General Motors is recalling nearly a million cars because defective driver airbags can explode and injure or possibly kill the driver.
The automaker told the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in March 2023 that it had been notified of a crash involving a 2017 Chevrolet Traverse in which the front driver’s airbag inflator reportedly ruptured during deployment, GM said in a safety report filed with the agency. The driver suffered facial injuries in the crash, according to NHTSA.
GM and NHTSA inspected the vehicle and confirmed that the front driver airbag ruptured during deployment. Air bag inflators made by the same company were involved in two previous allegations of defective inflators in 201[ads1]5 Chevrolet Traverse vehicles, GM said.
An inflator rupture could cause metal fragments to pass through the airbag and into the vehicle’s interior, causing injury or death to those in the vehicle, GM said. “Out of an abundance of caution,” GM chose to recall 994,763 vehicles in the 2014 through 2017 model years “that may have received a suspect air bag inflator,” the company said.
What else is under recall? See USA TODAY’s recall list here
1.1 million Tesla vehicles recalled in China due to acceleration and braking problems
Which GM vehicles are among the nearly 1 million recalled?
- 2014-2017 Buick Enclave – 244,304 SUVs
- 2014-2017 Chevrolet Traverse – 457,316 SUVs
- 2014-2017 GMC Acadia – 293,143 SUVs
Each had a front driver airbag module with an ARC inflator installed as original equipment. The driver’s airbag inflator may explode during deployment due to a manufacturing defect.
Owners will be notified by letter starting June 25, but no solution is available yet. GM will send another letter when a remedy is ready. The automaker said it will offer “courtesy transportation” on a case-by-case basis to owners who fear driving vehicles that are part of the recall.
Regulators are calling for a recall of 67 million potentially dangerous airbags
The GM recall is just part of a much larger action involving airbag inflators. NHTSA has instructed ARC Automotive Inc. of Knoxville, Tennessee — maker of the inflator used in airbag modules in the GM recall — to recall 67 million inflators in the U.S. because they can explode and throw shrapnel.
At least two people have been killed in the United States and Canada and seven others have been injured as a result of defective ARC inflators, Stephen Ridella, director of NHTSA’s Office of Defects Investigation, wrote in a letter to ARC.
One of the two deaths was a mother of 10 who was killed in what appeared to be an otherwise minor crash in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula in the summer of 2021. Police reports show a metal inflator fragment struck her neck in a crash with a 2015 Chevrolet. Travers SUV.
The letter, posted Friday, comes after an eight-year investigation in which NHTSA tentatively concluded that the ARC front driver and passenger pumps have a safety defect. “Airbag inflators that project metal fragments into the vehicle’s occupants, instead of properly inflating the deployed airbag, create an unreasonable risk of death and injury,” Ridella wrote in the letter.
GM is just one of more than a dozen automakers — others include Chrysler, Kia, Hyundai and Volkswagen — that have used ARC blowers.
A legal battle could ensue as ARC responded to the agency that any airbag problems are related to isolated manufacturing problems. ARC Vice President of Product Integrity Steve Gold wrote on May 11 in response to Ridella, that NHTSA’s position is not based on any objective technical or engineering conclusion of a defect, “but rather conclusory statements regarding presumed blockage of the inflator orifice from ‘weld slag.'”
The next step in the process is for NHTSA to schedule a public hearing. It could then take the company to court to force a recall.
Contributor: Associated Press.
Follow Mike Snider on Twitter: @mikesnider.