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

General Motors recalls over 33,000 cars over risk of flat tires

Warren, MI – March 11, 2021 – General Motors  (NYSE:GM) has recalled 33,838 vehicles whose tires may rupture out on the road. The recall includes the following models:

  • 2020 Buick Enclave
  • 2020 Cadillac Escalade
  • 2020 Cadillac Escalade ESV
  • 2020 Cadillac XT4
  • 2020 Cadillac XT5
  • 2019-2020 Chevrolet Blazer
  • 2018-2021 Chevrolet Express
  • 2019-2020 Chevrolet Silverado 1500
  • 2020 Chevrolet Suburban
  • 2020 Chevrolet Tahoe
  • 2020 Chevrolet Traverse
  • 2019-2020 GMC Acadia
  • 2018-2021 GMC Savana
  • 2019-2020 GMC Sierra 1500
  • 2020 GMC Yukon
  • 2020 GMC Yukon XL

Recall summary  

Before being placed in service, tires are “cured,” or given final shape, using a mold and a rubber “bladder.” The tires in question were accidentally cured for longer than necessary, making them prone to rupture and failure.

While the tires are being recalled by GM, they are part of a larger problem with Continental brand tires. This recall expands an earlier GM recall in November 2020 and includes more models that may be equipped with defective tires.

In its turn, Mercedes-Benz has also just announced that it would inspect over 2,500 cars due to the same issue. To read about warning signs that may indicate that the tires are defective, please see the recent article we wrote about that recall.

Risks

The defective tires may suddenly go flat. Additionally, the outer tread – which is the part that touches the road –  could separate from the rest of the tire. Both conditions could cause the driver to lose control of the car and crash.

The repair

GM dealers will inspect and, if necessary,  replace vehicles’ tires for free. Notifications with more information will be sent to owners around April 12.

Recent Chevrolet recalls, GMC recalls

GM recalled nearly 6 million vehicles equipped with potentially dangerous Takata airbags in February. The airbags’ inflators may break apart after a crash and kill or injure the occupants of the car with sharp metal fragments.

The recall spanned several GM brands, including Chevrolet and GMC. 

Is your vehicle part of this recall?

Over 33,000 vehicles are included in this GM recall. To see if your [type of vehicle] is one of them, use MotorSafety’s free vehicle lookup tool.

Rebecca RandGeneral Motors recalls over 33,000 cars over risk of flat tires

General Motors vehicles recalled for seat belt issue

Warren, MI – December 31, 2020 – General Motors (NYSE:GM) has recalled 624,216 vehicles due to a seat belt issue in the front-row center seat. The seat belt may not properly secure the occupant in the seat, increasing the risk of injury in a crash.

The recall includes:

  • 2019-2021 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 trucks
  • 2019-2021 GMC Sierra 1500 trucks
  • 2021 Chevrolet Suburban SUVs
  • 2021 Chevrolet Tahoe SUVs
  • 2021 GMC Yukon XL SUVs
  • 2020-2021 Chevrolet Silverado 2500 trucks
  • 2020-2021 Chevrolet Silverado 3500 trucks
  • 2020-2021 GMC Sierra 2500 trucks
  • 2020-2021 GMC Sierra 3500 trucks

Recall summary  

Seat belt brackets are designed to secure the seat belt to the seat frame. In recalled vehicles, the supplier of the front-row center seat failed to attach the brackets to the frame of the seat correctly.

As a result, the seat belt may be “loose or detached from the seat frame.” Passengers may also hear a rattling sound emanating from the seat. 

The issue was first caught by the manufacturer in August 2020. There are no injuries associated with this recall.

Other GM recalls

December saw a GMC Sierra and Chevy Silverado recall due to an issue with roof-rail airbags, as well as a massive, six-million car recall due to faulty Takata airbags’ inflators that are prone to hurling “sharp metal fragments” into the car occupants in a crash. The latter includes Chevrolet Suburban and Tahoe SUVs. However, the trucks involved in both recalls are older models and not the same ones that are being recalled this time around.

Risks  

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “Motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of death among those aged 1-54 in the U.S.”  Seat belts can sharply reduce the risk of death or injury in a crash but they must be able to secure each occupant in the vehicle. If not, the passenger or the driver may be injured inside the vehicle or thrown from the vehicle during a crash.

The repair

To fix the issue, dealers must inspect the seat belt bracket attachments on both sides of the front-row center seat and will reassemble them as necessary. The repair will be free of charge.  General Motors expects to begin the recall on February 1, 2021.

Is your vehicle part of this recall?

Over 624,000 vehicles are included in this General Motors recall. To see if your car is one of them, use MotorSafety’s free vehicle lookup tool.

Ken BoydGeneral Motors vehicles recalled for seat belt issue

Sierra and Silverado trucks recalled for airbag inflator issue

Warren, MI – December 22, 2020 – General Motors (NYSE:GM) has recalled 9,279 vehicles that operate with roof-rail airbags. The airbags connect to the inflation system using an end cap and the cap may malfunction. The recall includes:            

  • 2015 GMC Sierra 1500, 2500 and 3500 trucks
  • 2015 Chevrolet Silverado 1500, 2500 and 3500 trucks
  • 2016 GMC Sierra 1500 trucks
  • 2016 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 trucks     

Recall summary  

The vehicles in this recall are equipped with roof-rail airbags (RRAB). These airbags deploy from near the roof and downward, to protect occupants from a side-impact crash. 

  • Each RRAB operates with an inflator, which inflates the airbag with compressed gas during a crash. An end cap keeps the compressed gas in the airbag.
  • A supplier’s manufacturing error caused moisture to corrode inside the inflator vessel near the end cap.
  • In the recalled cars, the inflator end cap may detach from the inflator, and compressed gas may propel the end cap into the passenger compartment. The end cap may injure occupants or distract the driver and cause a crash.

GM is aware of two cases of end caps detaching.  No injuries have been reported.

Note that this recall is different from the massive recalls for defective Takata airbags in 2015 or the recent recall of Nissan Sentras, also related to airbags.

GMC Sierra and Chevrolet Silverado vehicles have had other recall notices in recent years. Recalls have been made for ignition locks, brakes, seats and for seat belt issues.

Risks 

A detached end cap may fly forcefully into the vehicle and hit an occupant, causing an injury. The end cap detachment may also distract the driver.

The repair

To fix the issue, dealers will inspect each RRAB and replace modules that appear to be dangerous. The repair is free of charge. General Motors expects the recall to begin on January 10, 2021.

Is your vehicle part of this recall?

Over 9,200 vehicles are included in this Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra recall. To see if your car is one of them, use MotorSafety’s free vehicle lookup tool.

Ken BoydSierra and Silverado trucks recalled for airbag inflator issue

General Motors issues another round of recalls for brake assist system

Pleasanton, CA – November 25, 2020 – General Motors (NYSE:GM) has recalled 14,620 vehicles that operate with either 5.3L or 6.2L V8 engines. In each case, the  power of the mechanical vacuum pump  – which helps the engine with several key functions, including braking – may decrease. This may negatively affect the brake assist system. The recall includes:

  • 2018  Cadillac Escalade sedans
  • 2018 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 trucks
  • 2018 Chevrolet Tahoe SUVs
  • 2018 GMC Sierra 1500 trucks
  • 2018 GMC Yukon SUVs

Recall summary  

Among other functions, the mechanical vacuum pump provides power to the brake assist system. Due to a design error that was not addressed during a previous recall for the same issue last year, “the output” of the pump can drop over time, making the power brake assist system less effective.

There are several factors that alert the driver to the brake assist issue:

  • The brake pedal may vibrate when the driver applies the brakes
  • Braking requires more effort
  • A ticking sound is emitted from the engine compartment when the brakes are applied
  • The driver may see a “Service Brake” message pop up on the dash

Risks 

If the brake assist is not operating correctly, the driver must press on the brake pedal with more effort and depress it further to be able to stop the vehicle.

This change in braking ability increases the risk of a crash. Drivers may not be able to brake quickly enough to slow or stop the vehicle. GM notes that the problem is more apparent at low speeds when a driver applies soft pressure to the brakes.

The repair

To fix the issue, dealers will need to inspect the Electronic Brake Control Module and reprogram the system. The recall free of charge and began on November 16.

Is your vehicle part of this recall?

Over 14,000 vehicles are included in this General Motors recall. To see if your car is one of them, use MotorSafety’s free vehicle lookup tool.

Ken BoydGeneral Motors issues another round of recalls for brake assist system