Chicago: To fix a defective steering column, Japanese automaker Nissan has recalled nearly 271,000 sport utility vehicles (SUVs) in the United States and Canada. The step was taken in the wake that the defect can cause crack when exposed to road salt.

Inspection and repairs will be conducted free of charge.

In a filing with US safety regulators, Nissan said, “An assembly hole can allow road salt and snow to collect in the steering assembly and cause corrosion.”

"The strut housing may crack and pull away from the inner hood ledge assembly," Nissan said.

"This may lead to grinding noises, increased steering effort, and possibly the steering column to break, resulting in the loss of steering control, which could result in a crash," it added.

A Nissan spokeswoman told that nearly 163,000 Pathfinders were recalled in the United States and 63,000 were recalled in Canada.

A further 33,000 QX4s were recalled in the US and 12,000 in Canada.