GM Recalls Pickup Trucks Due to Seat Belt Fire Fears

Laguna Hills, CA – Nov. 21, 2019 – Well over a half-million pickup trucks manufactured by General Motors LLC are poised to be pulled from the marketplace over safety concerns related to the front seat belt pretensioners. When passengers strap themselves in, a hot gas may emit from pretensioner bracket opening. This could cause a fire within the interior of the vehicle. The potentially compromised models in question include the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra.

Although GM has yet to announce when motorists will be officially notified of this safety issue by mail, the automaker intends to send mailers alerting registered owners shortly. Recipients are urged to have their cars examined by an area dealership so this problem can be resolved, if one exists. The repair comes at no charge.

The Defect

According to documents submitted to and distributed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, GM is recalling approximately 556,399 pickup trucks nationwide whose seat belt pretensioners – both on the driver and passenger side of the car – may be compromised. Upon the belt’s deployment from the assembly, a flammable gas may emanate out of the bracket aperture. Such a scenario may lead to a fire. All the suspect vehicles have carpet floor mats, which are not fire retardant. Those with vinyl floor coverings are not in any danger.

The specific automobiles included in the GM seat belt fire recall are the following:

  • 2019-2020 Chevrolet Silverado 1500
  • 2020 Chevrolet Silverado 2500
  • 2020 Chevrolet Silverado 3500
  • 2019-2020 GMC Sierra 1500
  • 2020 GMC Sierra 2500
  • 2020 GMC Sierra 3500  

Chevrolet Silverados represent the lion’s share of the GM seat belt fire recall at 355,878, based upon NHTSA records and estimates.

Timeline of Events

This issue first came to GM’s attention July 25, when corporate headquarters was briefed about a fire occurring within the cab of a GM-manufactured pickup truck. Internal fire investigators participated in the inquiry as well and determined approximately five days later that the problem may be linked to a similar event that involved the same make and model.

GM and the internal fire experts referred the case to GM’s technical center for follow-up analysis and a more in-depth breakdown as to the nature and cause of the conflagration and how best to resolve it. This subsequent investigation took place in September.

In mid-October, those leading the inquiry determined the most likely cause was a hot gas that vented from the pretensioner opening, which subsequently ignited carpet fibers found on the floor. These findings were then submitted to GM open investigation review board Nov. 4. Three days later, the automaker decided a safety recall was appropriate. No known crashes, deaths or injuries have been reported as a result of this seat belt glitch.

The Solution

While General Motors dealers have since been notified about this safety alert, motorists soon will be, according to the automaker’s  records. There’s no official date as of yet, but GM expects mailers being distributed sent out in the first or second week of December. Those informed are asked to bring their automobile to a local dealer. If deemed necessary after inspecting the suspect seat belt unit, the pretensioner aperture will be closed off, thus stopping the gas’s outflow.

For more information on the GM seat belt fire recall or additional recalls recently announced by the Detroit, Michigan-based automaker, please visit MotorSafety.org.

Sean ReyesGM Recalls Pickup Trucks Due to Seat Belt Fire Fears