Independent testing revealed a safety problem.

Cadillac is recalling more than 20,000 CTS all-wheel-drive and CTS-V models from the 2009-2010 model years because of a defective knee bolster on the front passenger side.

In an accident the front passenger’s legs could be injured if he or she is small in stature, not wearing a safety belt, and the seat is adjusted to the full forward position.

A contractor for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration conducted a frontal barrier test last April in a spot test of maker certified vehicles. The independent firm concluded that the limit of 1,530 pounds on the right femur was exceeded by 1%. GM objected to the test. A retest in August showed a 3% violation of the forces required by FMVSS 208. At that point Cadillac had no choice but to recall the its flagship car that has been a considerable source of momentum in the market.

Dealers will replace the glove compartment assembly and, in some vehicles, modify the instrument panel magnesium beam, which sounds like a complex repair, but repair instructions have not been released to dealers yet. Any recall on a luxury vehicle is bad, but fixes involving interiors are right in front of the world’s most demanding customers, and a source of dissatisfaction if they aren’t performed perfectly.

A GM spokesman said the fix should take one hour or less, depending on when the Cadillac was built. This service will be performed free of charge as required by U.S. law. The safety recall is expected to begin on or before October 20, 2010 when replacement parts become available. In the interim, dealers cannot sell new or used vehicles affected by the recall, which extends to 2010 CTS and CTS-V models produced through May of this year.

Owners may contact Cadillac at 1-866-982-2339 about GM safety recall number N100292. Owners may also contact NHTSA’s Vehicle Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236 (TTY 1-800-424-9153), or go to NHTSA Campaign ID number 10V414000.

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