GM Takata recall

The Takata airbag saga continues to expand. General Motors is the latest in a growing line of automakers affected by defective Takata airbag inflators since the National Highway Transport Safety Administration (NHTSA) declared that all Takata passenger-side inflators which use ammonium nitrate as propellant should be replaced.

The affected 2007-2011 models include the Chevrolet Silverado 1500, Avalanche, Tahoe and Suburban, GMC Sierra 1500, Yukon and Yukon XL, Cadillac Escalade, Escalade EXT, Escalade ESV and the 2009-2011 Silverado, Sierra 2500 and Sierra 3500. All-in-all, 1.9 million vehicles are said to be affected, which has led the company to issue a preliminary recall.

Why preliminary? According to GM, it may not be necessary to recall all 1.9 million 2007-2011 trucks and SUVs named in the recall, because the inflators used in their trucks and SUVs were designed with different venting for hot gases that are released when the airbag deploys.

These inflators also come with unique propellant wafer configurations and machined steel end caps, and are packaged in the dashboard in such a way as to minimise exposure to climate control moisture. More importantly, GM claims, the vehicles were designed to minimise the maximum temperature the inflators are exposed to, such as large interior volumes and standard-fit solar-absorbing windscreens and windows.

SRS-Airbag

Additionally, Reuters reports reports that GM plans additional testing to ensure that its vehicles are safe. “GM believes that the vehicles it manufactured with these inflators do not contain a present defect which poses an unreasonable risk to motor vehicle safety,” said the company in a document filed with the NHTSA.

However, GM’s position is the opposite of the regulators’, which states that all Takata front inflators without a drying agent must be recalled. “The science clearly shows that these inflators become unsafe over time, faster when exposed to humidity and variations of temperature,” said NHTSA spokesman Bryan Thomas.

Recalls are staggered over time with priority given to states which experience extended high levels of heat and humidity, which have been linked to inflator failures.

The Reuters report says GM’s recall was the largest of six separate ones made public by the NHTSA yesterday. Volkswagen AG recalled 217,000 vehicles, Mercedes-Benz USA recalled 200,000 vehicles (with its van unit recalling a further 5,100 vehicles), BMW recalled 92,000 vehicles and Jaguar Land Rover recalled 54,000 vehicles.