General Motors is recalling nearly one million vehicles because faulty driver’s air bag inflators could explode and injure or possibly kill the driver.
The automaker told the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in March 2023 it had been notified about a crash involving a 2017 Chevrolet Traverse in which the front-driver air bag inflator allegedly ruptured during deployment, GM said in a safety report filed with the agency. The driver suffered facial injuries in the crash, according to NHTSA.
GM and NHTSA inspected the vehicle and confirmed the front driver air bag inflator ruptured during deployment. Air bag inflators made by the same company were involved in two previous allegations of ruptured inflators in 2015 Chevrolet Traverse vehicles, GM said.
An inflator rupture may cause metal fragments to pass through the air bag and into the vehicle interior, which may result in injury or death to those in the vehicle, GM said. “Out of an abundance of caution,” GM opted to recall 994,763 vehicles in the model years 2014 to 2017 “that may have received a suspect airbag inflator,” the company said.
What else is under recall? See USA TODAY’s recall list here
1.1 million Tesla vehicles recalled in China over acceleration, braking issues
What GM vehicles are among the nearly 1 million being recalled?
- 2014-2017 Buick Enclave – 244,304 SUVs
- 2014-2017 Chevrolet Traverse – 457,316 SUVs
- 2014-2017 GMC Acadia – 293,143 SUVs
Each had a front-driver air bag module with an ARC inflator installed as original equipment. The driver’s air bag inflator may explode during deployment, due to a manufacturing defect.
Owners will be notified by letter starting June 25, but no fix is available yet. GM will send another letter when a remedy is ready. The automaker said it will offer “courtesy transportation” on a case-by-case basis to owners who fear driving vehicles that are part of the recall.
Regulators demand recall of 67 million potentially dangerous air bag inflators
The GM recall is just part of a much larger action involving air bag inflators. NHTSA has directed ARC Automotive Inc. of Knoxville, Tennessee – maker of the inflator used in air bag modules in the GM recall – to recall 67 million inflators in the U.S. because they could explode and hurl shrapnel.
At least two people have been killed in the U.S. and Canada, and seven others have been hurt as a result of defective ARC inflators, wrote Stephen Ridella, director of NHTSA’s Office of Defects Investigation, in a letter to ARC.
One of the two deaths was a mother of 10 who was killed in what appeared to be an otherwise minor crash in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula in the summer of 2021. Police reports show that a metal inflator fragment hit her neck in a crash involving a 2015 Chevrolet Traverse SUV.
The letter, posted Friday, comes after an eight-year investigation in which NHTSA tentatively concluded ARC front driver and passenger inflators have a safety defect. “Air bag inflators that project metal fragments into vehicle occupants, rather than properly inflating the attached air bag, create an unreasonable risk of death and injury,” Ridella wrote in the letter.
GM is only one of more than a dozen automakers – others include Chrysler, Kia, Hyundai and Volkswagen – that have used ARC inflators.
A court battle could loom as ARC responded to the agency that any air bag problems are related to isolated manufacturing issues. ARC vice president of product integrity Steve Gold wrote in May 11 in response to Ridella, that NHTSA’s position is not based on any objective technical or engineering conclusion about a defect, “but rather conclusory statements regarding hypothesized blockage of the inflator orifice from ‘weld slag.’”
The next step in the process is for NHTSA to schedule a public hearing. It could then take the company to court to force a recall.
Contributing: The Associated Press.
Follow Mike Snider on Twitter: @mikesnider.