The problem can make the shift lever look like it is in one gear when it actually in in another. GM said the problem has caused at least 28 crashes and four injuries but no fatalities over the last seven years.
The recall, which affects cars sold mostly in the U.S. but also in Canada, comes as the automaker faces investigation from the
GM has recalled more than 6.1 million vehicles in the U.S. this year, and accounts for almost half of all recalls made nationally this year.
The automaker had been fixing the Saturns if owners complained about the problem but it had not issued a recall to repair all the vehicles that could be affected. However, mechanically similar GM Chevrolet Malibus and Pontiac G6s were part of a recall for the problem in 2012.
GM said the transmission shift cable on the Saturns could wear to the point where it breaks. When that happens, the driver will think he or she put the car into park but it could actually be in neutral. If they have not used the parking brake, the car could roll away and crash.
GM said dealers will fix the problem by installing a new shift cable assembly and mounting bracket.
The Saturns recalled Tuesday are no longer in production. GM shuttered the Saturn brand in 2009 as it headed into its bankruptcy restructuring and federal government bailout.