General Motors under investigation for airbag failures

Washington, D.C. – April 19, 2021 – The U.S. government’s highway safety regulator is investigating General Motors (NYSE:GM) over reports of airbag malfunction. The investigation cites 15 complaints and covers the following vehicles:

  • 2020 – 2021 Cadillac CT4
  • 2020 – 2021 Cadillac CT5
  • 2020 – 2021 Cadillac Escalade
  • 2020 – 2021 Cadillac Escalade ESV
  • 2020 – 2021 Cadillac XT5
  • 2020 – 2021 Chevrolet Silverado 1500
  • 2020 – 2021 Chevrolet Silverado 2500
  • 2020 – 2021 Chevrolet Silverado 3500
  • 2020-2021 Chevrolet Suburban
  • 2020 – 2021 Chevrolet Tahoe
  • 2020 – 2021 GMC Sierra 1500
  • 2020 – 2021 GMC Sierra 2500
  • 2020 – 2021 GMC Sierra 3500
  • 2020 – 2021 GMC Yukon
  • 2020 – 2021 GMC Yukon XL
  • 2020 GMC Sierra Denali
  • 2021 Chevrolet Suburban 1500
  • 2020 Chevrolet Silverado 4500HD
  • 2020 Chevrolet Silverado 5500HD
  • 2020 Chevrolet Silverado 6500HD

Complaints  

Of the 15 complaints consumers submitted to the regulator, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), six mention serious crashes where the airbags failed to deploy, while eight highlight injuries that occurred in connection with the problem.

One complaint from Dayton, Ohio graphically describes the consequences when one driver’s airbag failed to deploy in an accident, resulting in a serious head injury. During the accident, “something hit [the driver’s] face while the “steering wheel airbag” failed to deploy. The driver remembers crawling out of their overturned Cadillac Escalade and being taken to the hospital. Upon being discharged, the person experienced “loss of taste and smell” except for the “smell of brain matter” from “fluid” dripping down their nasal cavity.

Other complaints describe the airbags failing to deploy despite the driver hitting several trees

Cause of the problem

The administration’s investigation points to a bulletin GM posted for dealers and repair shops in March, addressing problems with the airbag warning light. The bulletin blames the problem on “rust particles in the connection terminal interface of the driver airbag inflator.”

However, according a statement obtained by the Associated Press (AP), GM said it was unaware of any airbags failing to deploy due to this problem, adding that its own analysis of the issue found that airbags would still deploy in a crash even if the malfunction light was on.

Warning signs

Some of the complaints describe the airbag and “service safety restraint system” warning lights coming on as often as “every two to three minutes when driving.”

Other GM airbag recalls

GM has recently recalled close to 6 million cars because of potentially lethal Takata airbags that may rupture when deployed. Separately, in April NHTSA launched another investigation after multiple car manufacturers – including GM – recalled airbags that were improperly folded during the installation process and could fail to deploy. The airbags were manufactured by Joyson, a successor of Takata.

It is not clear who produced the GM airbags at the center of the current investigation.

Is your vehicle part of this recall?

Over 749,000 vehicles could be recalled as a result of NHTSA’s investigation. To do a GM recall check, bookmark MotorSafety’s free vehicle lookup tool and come back to the site when more details become available.

Rebecca RandGeneral Motors under investigation for airbag failures