General Motors has issued a preliminary recall for certain 2007-2011 full-size pickup trucks and SUVs over the passenger-side front airbag inflators.
These vehicles are equipped with certain air bag inflators assembled as part of the passenger frontal air bag modules, and used as original equipment or replacement equipment. In the event of a crash necessitating deployment of the front air bags, these inflators may rupture due to propellant degradation occurring after long-term exposure to absolute humidity and temperature cycling.
An inflator rupture may result in metal fragments striking the vehicle occupants resulting in serious injury or death.
Here’s why the recall is preliminary and what it means for current owners.
Not An Immediate Recall
The recall is the result of defect information reports (DIRs) from airbag supplier, Takata, that were submitted to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) on May 16th, 2016.
The NHTSA has instructed Takata, which has been beleaguered in industry-wide recalls related to its inflators impacting millions of vehicles, to file DIRs for previously-unrecalled airbag inflators that use an ammonium nitrate propellant without a drying agent. NHTSA requires automakers named in Takata’s reports to initiate the recalls, and that’s what is taking place here. Despite filing this preliminary recall as per NHTSA’s guidelines, GM explicitly states that it does not believe that a safety defect exists at this time.
GM is planning on providing NHTSA with additional test data, analysis or other relevant and appropriate evidence in support of its belief that these GM vehicles do not pose an unreasonable risk to safety.
The NHTSA has concluded “that the likely root cause of the rupturing of most non-desiccated frontal Takata air bag inflators is a function of time, temperature cycling, and environmental moisture.”
Because of the large number of vehicles with Takata inflators and the limited number of available replacement inflators, the NHTSA has ordered a multi-year, risk-based schedule for inflator replacements that prioritizes vehicles and regions of the country that pose a higher risk to safety.
GM believes that its 2007-2011 trucks and SUVs do not pose an unreasonable safety risk at this time based on two reasons:
- No inflators have ruptured during an estimated 44,000 crash deployments
- An analysis of parts returned from the field
This can be explained by the unique Takata inflator made for GM’s vehicles and features unique to GM trucks and SUVs.
For example, the Takata passenger-side airbag inflators used in these trucks and SUVs are a variant engineered specifically for these GM vehicles, and include features such as greater venting, unique propellant wafer configurations and machined steel end caps. The inflators are packaged in the instrument panel in such a way as to minimize exposure to moisture from the climate control system. Importantly, these full-size trucks and SUVs have features and attributes that minimize the maximum temperature to which the inflator will be exposed, such as large interior volumes and standard solar-absorbing windshields and side glass.
What GM Is Doing
GM will continue to test and monitor the Takata inflators in its vehicles.
- GM has initiated a third-party environmental conditioning study that will simulate long-term temperature cycling to continue assessing inflator aging and estimate likely service life.
- GM is establishing a part return program that will collect and CT scan Takata inflators recovered from GM vehicles, primarily from the High Absolute Humidity areas believed to pose the highest risks.
- GM is continuing to closely monitor and study the performance of Takata airbag inflators in GM vehicles in the field.
If GM concludes at any time that these inflators are unsafe, the company will take appropriate action in cooperation with NHTSA.
This preliminary recall covers certain 2007-2011 pickups and SUVs, including:
- 2007-2011 Chevrolet Silverado 1500
- 2007-2011 Chevrolet Avalanche
- 2007-2011 Chevrolet Tahoe
- 2007-2011 Chevrolet Suburban
- 2007-2011 GMC Sierra 1500
- 2007-2011 GMC Yukon
- 2007-2011 GMC Yukon XL
- 2007-2011 Cadillac Escalade
- 2007-2011 Cadillac Escalade EXT
- 2007-2011 Cadillac Escalade ESV
The recall also covers certain 2009-2011 heavy duty pickup trucks, including:
- 2009-2011 Chevrolet Silverado 2500 and 3500
- 2009-2011 GMC Sierra 2500 and 3500
The recall applies to vehicles originally sold or ever registered in:
Arizona, Arkansas, Delaware, District of Columbia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia.
Vehicles not originally sold or ever registered in these states are not subject to this safety recall but may be covered under recall 16V-381 depending on the vehicle model year and the vehicle’s sale and registration locations.
Amount Of Vehicles Affected
Because the Takata DIRs are based on both vehicle age and the state in which the vehicle is or has been registered, the specific vehicles and total number of vehicles covered by this preliminary recall will be determined following an analysis of vehicle registration data.
The NHTSA lists the amount of vehicles being recalled as 500,000.
What Customers Should Do
General Motors will notify customers with vehicles involved in the recall regarding next steps and provide updated information via a customer website — gmtakataairbag.com — and other channels.
- Chevrolet Customer Service: 1-800-222-1020
- GMC Customer Service: 1-800-462-8782
- Cadillac Customer Service: 1-800-458-8006
- GM Recall Number: 49152
- NHTSA Toll Free: 1-888-327-4236
- NHTSA (TTY): 1-800-424-9153
- NHTSA Website: www.safecar.gov
- NHTSA Recall Number: 16V383000