The recall affects certain 2012 Chevrolet Express and GMC Savana vans, and Chevrolet Suburban and GMC Yukon XL SUVs.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said on its website Saturday that a gear shaft can break, causing a loss of steering. GM says no crashes or injuries have been reported.
The problem was discovered in testing by the company that makes the gear shafts. GM says failure won't happen until the vehicles have been in service for at least 5 months under severe use.
The vans carry up to 15 passengers and are used widely by churches and airport shuttle services.
GM dealers will inspect the steering gear shaft and replace it if necessary.