Transmission issue fuels GM midsize car recall

DETROIT -- General Motors is recalling nearly 474,000 Chevrolet, Pontiac and Saturn cars to fix a transmission problem that can cause the cars to roll away unexpectedly.

The recall affects 2007-2010 Chevrolet Malibus, Pontiac G6s and Saturn Auras in the United States, Canada and Mexico. All the cars have four-speed automatic transmissions.

The problem results from tabs on the transmission shift cable end that may fracture and separate in the cars. Such a fracture can put the transmission shift lever out of sync with the actual position of the transmission gear. For example, the transmission might look like it is in park but could be in another gear.

This could cause the car to roll away unexpectedly and cause a crash. GM said the problem has caused at least four accidents but no injuries.

Dealers will put a retainer over the end of the cables or replace them. Owners will be told by letter when to set up appointments with dealers.

There were a total of 7,547 of the affected models registered on Long Island as of April of last year, according to data prepared for Newsday by the Michigan auto data provider R.L. Polk & Co. The problem was discovered as GM gathered data for a U.S. government investigation of a similar problem with transmission cables on the same cars.

GM spokesman Alan Adler said that as part of the recall, dealers will put retainer covers over both ends of the cables to fix both problems. In some cases, the whole cable will have to be replaced. The government began investigating the cars last year after getting reports of seven crashes and one injury.

In March 2009, GM recalled about 277,000 vehicles for a similar shift lever problem.

At that time the recall involved 2009 model year versions of the Buick Enclave; Chevrolet Cobalt, HHR, Malibu and Traverse; GMC Acadia; Pontiac G5 and G6; and the Saturn Aura and Outlook. Only 75,000 of the vehicles had been sold, with the rest still at dealerships.

With Tom Incantalupo

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