The Office of Defects Investigations (ODI) is an office within the NHTSA which investigates serious safety problems in the design, construction or performance of vehicles. The NHTSA is authorized to order manufacturers to recall and repair vehicles, if the ODI finds a safety issue. NHTSA investigations for the 2009 Chevrolet Cobalt, both ongoing and closed, are listed below:

  1. INVESTIGATION: Electric Power Steering Failure

    NHTSA Preliminary Evaluation #PE10005

    Component(s): Steering:Electric Power Assist System

    Summary: In a March 1, 2010 letter, General Motors Corporation (GM) provided a defect information report to NHTSA regarding a problem that could result in sudden loss of power steering assist in certain model year (MY) 2005 through 2010 Chevrolet Cobalt and MY 2007 through 2010 Pontiac G5 vehicles equipped with electric power steering (EPS).The letter indicates that the loss of steering assist could occur at any time while driving and that, once assist is lost, a message is displayed on the Driver Information Center (DIC) and a chime sounds to inform the driver.The letter further states that steering control is maintained in manual mode, "but would require greater driver effort at low vehicle speeds."In the next ignition cycle, power assist is typically regained and the DIC message is no longer displayed.GM's letter identifies the root cause of the EPS failure as the EPS motor and indicates that production of a new motor started in December 2009.GM's recall repair procedure instructs dealers to replace the EPS motor in all recalled vehicles. ODI's analysis of all information available related to sudden loss of EPS assist while driving in the MY 2005 through 2009 Chevrolet Cobalt vehicles shows current complaint and warranty rates of 323/100,000 vehicles and 0.4% respectively.In response to ODI's request for information, GM identified 81 complaints where a crash was claimed that may be related to loss of EPS assist.ODI's analysis of all crash claims was based on verifiable factors such as; whether a loss of EPS was indicated at the time of the crash by a chime or malfunction indicator lamp or if a EPS related component malfunction was identified after the crash occurred.With this method ODI identified 36 possible crashes related to EPS failure.GM assessed crash claims based on the available facts and excluded crash claims that indicated that the vehicle was travelling at speeds in the range of 30 mph or greater.GM said that it believes if power assist is lost while a vehicle is moving at speeds in the range of 30 mph or greater there is a small difference in steering efforts perceived in subjective evaluations at those speeds and it is unlikely to lead to loss of vehicle control. Based on GM's safety recall, this investigation is closed.

  2. INVESTIGATION: Fleet Vehicle Recall Completion Audit

    NHTSA Defect Investigation #AQ10001

    • Status:
      CLOSED
    • Date Opened: November 18, 2010
    • Date Closed: December 28, 2015
    • Recall: No recall issued

    Component(s): Unknown Or Other

    Summary: On November 18, 2010, NHTSA's Recall Management Division (RMD) opened an audit query (AQ10-001) to investigate recall remedy completion by rental car companies on safety recall campaigns.It was expected to provide the agency an indication of how completely and how quickly rental car fleets perform necessary recall-related remedies on the vehicles owned and then rented/leased for use on the roadways.RMD queried three (3) major motor vehicle manufacturers (Ford, Chrysler, and General Motors) and requested data regarding completion figures for fifteen (15) discreet safety recalls.Analysis of this data demonstrated that rental car recalls completion was neither complete nor consistent.The rental car companies representing the largest market share in the industry were then queried as to their respective policies for the rental, lease, and sale of vehicles with open recalls.The data and responses from the manufacturers and the rental car companies can be found in the document repository by accessing the ""Associated Documents" link above.In December 2015, Congress enacted the Fixing America's Surface Transportation (FAST) Act.One section of the Act prohibits rental car companies from renting, leasing, or selling motor vehicles subject to open safety recalls.With the passage of the FAST Act and its prohibition, there is no continuing need for the agency to investigate rental car recall completions.Accordingly, this investigation is closed.The agency reserves the right to open any future investigations, including audits of individual recalls, or groups of recalls, or rental car companies, to examine more closely safety recalls performance and completion issues in this area.