UPDATE Oct. 10, 2011: This is an update to our previous story on the GM/Saturn safety advisory for Ion power steering, seen below. 

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced that it will deepen its investigation of the 2004-2007 Saturn Ion’s power steering failure issues by starting an engineering analysis of the vehicles.

While Saturn is now a defunct brand, several news agencies say that parent company

Consumer Recall Safety - Saturn Ion Power Steering

The NHTSA has upgraded its investigation to an engineering analysis of the Saturn Ion power steering issues.

General Motors might have to announce a recall passed down from the NHTSA depending on their conclusions on the “frequency, scope and safety consequences of a sudden loss of steering assist in the subject vehicles,” says the government statement.

The NHTSA’s Office of Defects and Investigation said that their office and GM have received a combined total of 4,335 complaints regarding power steering failure in the Ions and is aware of two reports of crashes.

The New York Times reports that a GM representative said the NHTSA did not insist on a recall of the Ion in 2010 because there wasn’t enough proof of a defect. The NHTSA continued collecting information, however, and has now decided to begin an engineering analysis after opening its recall query last December to see if GM should have initiated a recall.

See the complete update here.

—Original Story—

Saturn owners nationwide have been left in the dark regarding safety and warranty issues since the division was disbanded by GM last year. This month, General Motors sent out letters to Saturn owners advising them of the potential for power steering failure on the Saturn Ion – but didn’t officially recall the car.

Consumer Recall Safety - Saturn Ion

The Saturn Ion has not been recalled yet, but could be after the NHTSA's engineering analysis.

Back in March, General Motors Co. said it was voluntarily recalling 1.3 million compact cars, including the company’s popular Chevrolet Cobalt model, because the cars’ power steering could fail. Within a few months, GM’s Facebook page had quite the little uproar on their hands, with Saturn owners demanding that their car be added to the recall, as numerous people had reported the same exact problem in their Ions.

With Saturn a now-defunct brand, it had been unclear whether GM would take responsibility for issuing future Saturn recalls and performing technical service.

In the mail today, I received a letter detailing the above advisory on my 2005 Saturn Ion regarding the power steering failure. But while it mentioned the power steering failure, there was no terminology within the letter mentioning an actual recall for the Saturn.

The March recall affected a large number of vehicles in the US, including the 2005-2010 Chevrolet Cobalts, 2007-2010 Pontiac G5s, 2005-2006 Pontiac Pursuits sold in Canada and the 2005-2006 Pontiac G4 sold in Mexico.

The NHTSA had opened an investigation Jan. 27 into about 905,000 Cobalt models in the U.S. after it received more than 1,100 complaints of a lost of power steering assist, 14 crashes and one injury.

Until GM publicly issues a press release regarding the expansion, it will be unknown how many Saturns will be included in the advisory and the amount of, if any, complaints, reports, and injuries that were a result of the defect.

The letter I received in the mail was very specific about not taking the vehicles to the dealer. Bolded and underlined, in the middle of the first page it reads,

Do not take your vehicle to your GM dealer as a result of this letter unless you believe your vehicle has the condition as described above.”

General Motors is providing owners with “additional protection for the power steering assist control module. If this condition occurs on your 2005 Saturn ION within 10 years of the date your vehicle was originally placed in service or 100,000 miles, whichever occurs first, the condition will be repaired for you at no charge.”

The letter provides some information on reimbursement if you’ve already had to have the issue repaired. That information must be submitted to GM by August 31, 2011.

If owners have any other questions, they may contact the Saturn Customer Assistance Center at 1-800-972-8876.