WASHINGTON -- General Motors is recalling about 1.5 million cars and minivans to repair a problem that makes steering difficult.
The recall covers 1996-98 Chevrolet Cavaliers, Pontiac Sunfires, Pontiac Trans Sports and Oldsmobile Silhouettes.
Others are 1996 Lumina minivans and 1997-98 Chevrolet Ventures and Pontiac Grand Prixs.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said dealers will replace the lower pinion bearing or, if damage is severe, the entire rack and pinion gear assembly. Retainer tabs on the bearing were not properly crimped, the agency said. When a retainer fails, ball bearings come out.
When a driver turns left, the pinion shaft is forced upward.
Over time, left turns become more difficult and steering more unpredictable, NHTSA said.
GM spokesman Jim Schell said the company was aware of 15 crashes possibly related to the problem. Three minor injuries were reported.
About 1.2 million of the vehicles are in the United States and about 300,000 elsewhere.
In another GM action, the company is recalling about 18,000 Chevrolet Express and GMC Savana vans from the 2003 model year so that dealers can replace any wheel bearing assembly that lacks a retaining nut.
Without the nut, the bearing could separate from its proper position. Then the antilock brake system would be disabled, the vehicle would slow down and it would pull in the direction of the damaged wheel, NHTSA said.
Here are other recalls reported by the agency.