DETROIT -- General Motors on Tuesday said it will recall about 127,000 Chevrolet Corvette sports cars, the automaker's third major recall in less than a week and a blow to its claims of improved quality.
GM said it will fix the electronic steering column, which can remain locked while the vehicle is being driven. GM said it had no complaints that consumers experienced the problem with their Corvettes, and there are no confirmed crashes related to the condition.
The Corvette is equipped with an electronic column lock system which prevents the steering wheel from being turned when the ignition is off. The system is designed so that if the column fails to unlock when the vehicle is started, the fuel supply is cut off, GM said. But the fuel shut-off may not work if an electronic control malfunctions, and the vehicle could be driven with the steering system locked.
The recall includes approximately 127,000 Corvettes from the 1997-2004 model years, GM said.
Owners of the affected vehicles will be notified in the second quarter and instructed to bring the Corvette to a Chevrolet dealer, who will fix the problem at no charge.
GM has recalled a total of more than 2.4 million vehicles in two other recalls since last Friday. On Monday, GM said it would recall about 636,000 mid-sized SUVs following two reports of crashes related to electronics that could short-circuit when water leaks into a wiper module.
Last Friday, GM recalled about 1.8 million cars to fix an electrical defect that can spark fires in the steering column following 80 reports of problems.
GM said it had no reports of any injuries associated with either of those two problems.
The string of recalls follows assertions by the automaker that its quality has improved in recent years, backed by independent studies which showed higher quality scores.
"We're attempting to do our best to improve quality," GM spokesman Jim Schell said. "Some of these recalls are being conducted on vehicles that are over five years old, sometimes seven years old."
GM ranked sixth among automakers, and tops among U.S. brands, in vehicle quality in the 2003 J.D. Power and Associates Vehicle Dependability Survey, which polled 55,000 owners of 3-year-old vehicles.
But many consumers remain skeptical that GM's quality has rebounded from the dark days of the early 1990s, when the automaker almost went bankrupt.
About 40 percent of U.S. buyers do not consider buying GM vehicles, GM officials said in May last year when the automaker launched its "Road to Redemption" ads, which acknowledged GM's past quality problems while asserting that its new vehicles deserve a closer look.