The vehicles may have been built with a fractured park lock cable or a malformed steering column lock actuator gear, and could roll away after the driver has exited the vehicle, according to documents filed with the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
GM said most of the affected vehicles are believed to be still on dealer lots or in transit to dealers. It said it was not aware of any crashes or injuries related to the defect.
Only about one in 1,000 of the recalled vehicles are expected to have the defect, it said.
About 55,000 of the vehicles in the recall are in the United States, 6,310 are in Canada and 7,084 are exports, GM said.
Another 670 are in Mexico.
Affected vehicles include certain 2013-model Cadillac Escalade, Escalade EXT and Escalade ESV SUVs; Chevrolet Express vans, Silverado and Avalanche pickup trucks, and Tahoe and Suburban SUVs; and GMC Savanna vans, Sierra pickup trucks, and Yukon and Yukon XL SUVs, GM said.
If the steering column defect is present, a driver could shift from "park" while the key is removed from the ignition or the key is in the "off" position, GM said. The transmission also could be shifted out of "park" with application of the brake pedal while the key is in the "off" position, or the key may be rotated to the "off" position and removed while the shifter is not in "park."
GM said the steering column will be replaced if necessary at no cost to the vehicle owner. Letters are expected to be mailed to vehicle owners alerting them to the recall beginning Jan. 22.