Imagine turning your car’s steering wheel, or giving it a gentle tug, and having it break away from the steering column. Now you’re speeding along holding the suddenly useless wheel. It sounds like a vision from a cartoon, or every driver’s nightmare. And it happened to at least one driver of a 2011 Chevrolet Cruze compact car last month, and General Motors Corp. is recalling 2,100 of the cars as a result.
While the recall affects a relatively small number of vehicles, it is an unpleasant development for Chevrolet, which has been riding high on the success of its new small car. Chevrolet sold 50,205 Cruzes through the end of March. That’s well short of the 76,821 units Toyota sold of the Cruze’s main rival, the Corolla, but it is ahead of the 37,379 Cobalts Chevy sold in the same period. The Cruze replaced the Cobalt and is supposed to be a departure from that uninspired model.
In documents filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the car maker said it traced the problem with that particular car to a case in which the wrong wheel was put in a car and replaced later in the assembly process with the correct one. But the new wheel wasn’t attached properly, the car maker says.
When the wheel separated from the steering column, the driver was able to get the car to the side of the road safely, and the company says it has tested other cars from the production run and found no similar problems. General Motors says it believes this was an isolated incident.
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