General Motors under investigation over airbags that don’t work

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Words: Matthew Hansen
15 Apr 2021

General Motors has found themselves in hot water, over allegations of airbags in its vehicles that are not deploying in the event of a crash.

America’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has launched an investigation into a selection of new or near-new GM vehicles; all of which being large SUV and pick-up style utilities.

These include Chevrolet’s Silverado, Tahoe, and Suburban, plus GMC’s Sierra, Yukon, and Yukon XL, and Cadillac’s Escalade and Escalade ESV. NHTSA’s investigation is particularly concerned with models produced in 2020 and 2021.

As it stands, NHTSA claims to have evidence of six crashes occurring in the US with the aforementioned vehicles, where their airbags failed to activate despite severe frontal damage. It adds that it’s also intercepted nine complaints about airbag warning lights appearing on the clusters of the vehicles concerned.

It’s understood that the fault may have to do with rust particles appearing in the connection terminal of the driver airbag inflator. While this has mostly been linked to the appearance of malfunction lights appearing on the dashboard, it’s thought it may also have something to do with the outright failures.

GM’s statement on the matter was brief. “The safety of our products is the highest priority for the entire GM team,” it said. “We are cooperating with NHTSA in their investigation and we are conducting our own investigation into these complaints as well.”

Thankfully, the NHTSA investigation has yet to find any fatalities caused by the alleged problem.

Out of the aforementioned GM models, only the Chevrolet Silverado is sold in New Zealand; appearing on our roads after a comprehensive right-hand drive conversion at General Motor Specialty Vehicles in Clayton, Victoria.

Just last month, GMSV confirmed the Silverado Trail Boss for the local market. Arriving in the third quarter of 2021, it pairs a familiar 6.2-litre V8 with a lift kit, Rancho monotube shocks, and more. It will be priced from $119,900.

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