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Taxi drivers target Holden, claiming steering fault

By Barry Park, 22 Apr 2016 News

Taxi drivers target Holden, claiming steering fault

Power steering systems that drivers say can load up unexpectedly have been fixed in the US. But not here.

TAXI drivers have ripped into Holden after reporting multiple instances of the steering locking up while they were driving a cabbie’s staple, the locally made Caprice large car.

What has angered them, though, is the fact that General Motors has recalled the US version of the long-wheelbase Holden Commodore – sold over there as the Chevrolet Caprice Police Pursuit Vehicle – to fix it for a similar problem.

While US road safety authorities have directed GM to fix the problem, Australian taxi drivers are claiming Holden has left them high and dry as they deal with steering that unexpectedly weighs up, forcing them to stop and restart the car to correct it.

According to the US recall, a connector between the Caprice's Korean-sourced electric power steering module and the torque sensor in about 6000 cars built since 2013 was corroding, and causing the power steering to fail. That in turn makes it more difficult for the driver to turn the wheel.

The recall report states that the problem was only happening when the cars were subject to “extended idling times and elevated temperatures experienced in typical police applications”. 

“A greater steering effort would be needed to control the vehicle if power steering is lost, increasing the risk of a crash,” the service notice said. 

In the US, GM has replaced the car’s steering gear assembly at no cost 

One Australian taxi driver, Dennis Hunter, claimed on ABC radio’s AM program today that the problem would cost him $1800 in repairs. 

Holden said in 2014 it had “proactively” investigated and advised customers of a “potential steering issue with VF Commodores and Caprices”. 

Today, Holden spokesman Sean Poppitt told Wheels:  “Of the close to 60,000 vehicles inspected, only just over 100 re-presented with this issue.”

He added: “Regardless, any issue [with Holden-badged vehicles] is treated extremely seriously and we encourage all of our customers with any concerns to see their Holden dealer so we can help.” 

Poppitt told ABC radio the fault that had surfaced in the US version of the Caprice was due to “extreme usage” that even a taxi driver could not replicate in Australia.

Another taxi driver, Daljeet Singh, told the ABC that the problem was more widespread than Holden claimed.

“There is a manufacturing fault,” he said.

“If it's happening to one guy, two guys, I can understand, you know, here and there, but if it's happening to 50 of my friends out of a 100 car group that means there is some problem.”