Dodge is recalling almost 242,780 Ram pickups because of a problem with the trucks' steering assembly.

The recall affects Ram 1500 trucks built in 2008 and Ram 2500 and 3500 heavy-duty trucks built between 2003 and 2011. Some trucks were equipped with the potentially faulty parts at the factory, and others may have had them installed during repair work.

According to a report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the left tie rod ball stud (a part that keeps the wheels firmly attached to the steering mechanism) is prone to fracturing. If it fails, the stability of the left front tire can be compromised and it can become difficult to control the steering direction of that tire.

Any time a car's steering control becomes compromised there is an increased risk of an accident.

According to the report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA, a failure is most likely to happen during slow "parking lot type maneuvers." A problem with the steering assembly would likely be accompanied by a vague sensation from the steering wheel, but a small fracture may not be perceptible to the driver.

Chrysler should be sending notices to affected owners soon, but anyone who suspects their truck may be impacted by this issue can contact their local dealer to schedule repairs or call Chrysler directly at 1-800-853-1403.

Dodge dealers will be able to inspect the steering assembly for any issues, and will replace any worn or damaged parts with new ones free of charge. Because the issue may have affected the trucks' alignment, the alignment would also be checked and corrected for free.

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J. Mark Sternberg is an automotive journalist, car enthusiast and writer with a degree from the University of Arizona. Mark is a devoted Formula 1 fan and also enjoys boating, flying and attending the occasional track day.

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