The passenger airbag suppression system recall has been a long time coming and owners of the Pontiac Solstice and Saturn Sky fought long and hard to get the National Highway Traffic Safety Association and General Motors’ attention.
However, one man took it upon himself to do something about the widespread issue owners were dealing with for years. Troy Lyman, a web developer at a California naval base and owner of a Saturn Sky, began to comb through forums to see the problem wasn’t specific to only a few cars. Lyman decided to do what he does best: compile the data.
Automotive News documented the long road to a recall Lyman and others fought for over years of data collection and reporting. In the end, Lyman crafted a 67-page report and submitted it to the NHTSA, filled with photos, technical illustrations, documentation and even complaints the NHTSA had already received.
The NHTSA quickly opened an investigation. Eight months after the fact, GM recalled the Solstice and Sky roadsters for the airbag defect.
“I heard it went pretty high up within GM because I got some feedback at one point that they thought I was a lawyer for a client,” Lyman said. “Most of it was stuff they already had in their system. It was just a matter of putting it all together.”
GM ultimately decided the failure was not typical wear and tear of the vehicle, noting the Cadillac CTS and other non-GM vehicles had been recalled for an identical problem with the passenger airbag sensor.
“What triggers a safety recall is when there’s a pattern of defects and an unreasonable risk to safety,” GM spokesman Tom Wilkinson, said. “In the end, it came down to a decision by our safety and field action team. Because it was a two-seat vehicle, it was felt that there was significant risk if the mat malfunctioned, and one the customer cannot avoid by having the passenger sit in the back seat.”
We actually covered Lyman’s report last year when it was brought to our attention long before GM officially recalled the Pontiac and Saturn twins. And, because of his work, sensors will be replaced free of charge. If an owner has already had the issue taken care of, they may apply for reimbursement by GM with their receipt.