Warren, Mich. – June 27, 2017 – General Motors has recalled more than 760 vehicles that may be equipped with unsafe front seat head restraints, according to documentation filed with the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. The campaign affects 2016-2017 Buick Envision sport utility models produced between May 16, 2017 and May 27, 2017. GM estimates that 45 percent of the cars named in the campaign contain the defective equipment.
The vehicles mentioned in the recall could feature front head restraints that do not comply with Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 202a, which mandates that all restraints attach securely to seat backs, according to the U.S. Government Publishing Office. Buick Envision models come with backseat tablet computer holders that hook to the front seat head restraints. These devices could prevent restraints from fully engaging with seat backs, posing a serious safety hazard to drivers. However, GM has not received any accident or injury reports connected the defect.
Timeline of Events
On March 21, 2017, a GM employee and Envision owners filed an internal report alleging that the tablet holder prevented the head restraint on his vehicle from connecting properly with the seat back. The car company launched an official investigation May 11. GM engineers corroborated the report with the dealer that had sold the vehicle. The dealership also confirmed the tablet holder had been installed in multiple Envision models, some of which had been sold.
GM reviewed the instructions provided to dealers and discovered that they most likely caused confusion at the point of installation. Specifically, many technicians probably failed to remove the button caps located on the arms at the base of the head restraints, creating a situation in which these fixtures would not lock in place with the addition of the tablet holder.
On May 17, the Brand Quality Manager for Buick notified dealers across the country of the problem and instructed them to remove restraint button caps when installing tablet holders. The GM Open Investigation Review evaluated the investigation and resulting fix June 5. On the June 8, the automaker’s Safety Field Action Decision Authority chose to conduct a voluntary non-compliance recall.
GM has distributed updated installation instructions. Dealers will reinstall the tablet holders in affected vehicles, free of charge, according to the NHTSA. The car company has yet to provide owner notification dates. However, those in need of immediate assistance can contact Buick customer service at (800) 521-7300 or call the NHTSA Vehicle Safety Hotline at (888) 327-4236.