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Chevy Cobalt power steering scrutinized

The Chevrolet Cobalt could be the next car in trouble because of mechanical problems.

General Motors Co., which makes the compact car, said Tuesday that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has opened an investigation into complaints of failing power steering systems in the Cobalt, making it tougher to control at low speeds.

GM and the federal agency have received a total of 1,132 complaints about the car’s power steering system, including reports of 11 accidents, said Tom Wilkinson, a GM spokesman.

One of the accidents resulted in an injury, but Wilkinson said he had no further information on the incident.

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There is no recall of the car at this point, and Wilkinson said the company was cooperating with NHTSA in the investigation.

“This is a preliminary evaluation, just the first step taken when the NHTSA thinks there may be a problem,” he said. “The investigation could find nothing significant, or it could lead to a repair campaign or a recall, but at this point they’re just trying to see if there is a common problem in these complaints outside of normal wear and tear.”

About 905,000 Cobalts have been sold since 2005, Wilkinson said.

Some of the problems have occurred while the driver was parking the car, others while in traffic.

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“Most cars at highway speeds don’t even use power steering assist,” Wilkinson said. “It only really kicks in at low speeds, and that’s where the problems have been reported.”

Officials at the federal agency could not be reached for comment.

Wilkinson said the investigation was not out of the ordinary.

“Cobalt owners shouldn’t be worried. There are a number of these types of investigations opened and closed each month,” he said.

If Cobalt owners do have a complaint about power steering, or other issues, a report can be made to the agency at www.safecar.gov. Chevrolet is also accepting complaints at (800) 222-1020.

nathan.olivarezgiles@

latimes.com


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