Air Bag Software Issue for GM Vehicles

Detroit, MI – Oct. 21, 2016 – The software in the air bags of certain General Motors vehicles was the cause for the recall of about 4.3 million vehicles recently, according to the Detroit Free Press. The problem with the software is that, in certain circumstances, the electronic component tasked with deployment of the air bag will go into test-mode. If that was to occur, the result would be that the air bags would not deploy during a collision. For obvious reasons, that could translate to a major problem for the driver and passengers. Additionally, the seat belts may malfunction. So far, the defect has been linked to three injuries and even one death.

The Defect

Unlike many other recalls, the defect is a problem with the software as opposed to any hardware components. There is a sensing and diagnostic module that regulates both air bag deployment and seat belt pretensioners. Seat belt pretensioners are the part of your seat belt that is perhaps most responsible for saving lives. When you are in a collision, the sensors will trigger action by a concealed piston. The piston will fire into spool at the center of your seatbelt, which will, in turn, tighten around the wearer of the seat belt. Being pulled tightly against the car seat does a couple of things. For starters, it positions the passenger for the best use of the air bags. Also, it prevents the passenger from “submarining,” according to How Stuff Works. Submarining is the dangerous act of a passenger being pulled violently under the dashboard. The GM vehicles that are recalled include the 2014-2015 Buick LaCrosse, Chevrolet SS and Spark EV; the 2014-2017 Chevrolet Corvette, Trax, Caprice PPV, Silverado 1500, Buick Encore and GMC Sierra 1500; as well as the 2015-2017 Chevrolet Tahoe, Suburban, Silverado HD, GMC Yukon, Yukon XL, Sierra HD, Cadillac Escalade and Escalade ESV.

Timeline Of GM’s Response

In May of 2016, a 2014 Chevy Silverado crashed and the air bags inside did not deploy. General Motors reached out to auto parts manufacturing company, Delphi, right away. After months of vigorous testing and simulations, GM decided to recall the vehicles ahead of any more issues in early September. Luckily, the company is confident that the solution is not an overly complicated one.

The Solution

Owners of vehicles involved in the recall can stop by their local dealership to get the necessary software update, free of charge. General Motors will be contacting owners of affected vehicles to make sure they are informed. In a statement, GM maintained that the cost of this recall would not be a material one. The statement also said that GM would include information in their third-quarter earnings report which is expected to be released sometime around the end of October. That’s good news for General Motors, because in 2014 it had to pay nearly $2 billion in damages, compensation, fines and settlements for another recall involving the ignition switch.

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