The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has denied General Motors request to not replace airbags in over 6-million trucks and SUVs.
Last year, in June 2019, GM petitioned the NHTSA for the fourth time, seeking to be absolved of any request to replace potentially faulty airbags in it’s popular full-size trucks and SUVs. The vehicles produced on the GMT-900 platform and sold between 2007 and 2013 include the Chevrolet Silverado, GMC Sierra, and the Tahoe/Suburban/Yukon/Escalade SUV models.
Those vehicles were produced with airbags manufactured by Takata and identified as defective by Takata and the NHTSA. Those airbags can inflate with too much force and send metal shrapnel into the passenger compartment. Over two dozen people have been killed by Takata airbags and hundreds injured.
But General Motors, reluctant to spend $1.2 billion replacing the airbags in over 6-million sold vehicles, has petitioned the NHTSA to exclude those models from being recalled. GM has filed for four years, starting in 2016, to prevent a recall.
The NHTSA has moved slowly to rule, gathering facts and encouraging public comment on the issue. GM even went so far as to test 4,270 inflators by exposing them to added humidity and temperature cycles. The company, in it’s petition, claimed their unique setup and equipment was actually safe, despite Takata claiming otherwise.
But today, the NHTSA said “No” to GM and ruled the company must replace the airbags.
“GM petitioned NHTSA for a decision that, because of differences in inflator design and vehicle integration, the equipment defect determined to exist by Takata is inconsequential as it relates to motor vehicle safety in GM’s GMT900 vehicles, and that GM should therefore be relieved of its notification and remedy obligations under the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1966 and its applicable regulations. After reviewing GM’s consolidated petition, supporting materials, and public comments, NHTSA has concluded that GM has not met its burden of establishing that the defect is inconsequential to motor vehicle safety, and denies the petition”
General Motors responded by stating:
“The safety and trust of those who drive our vehicles is at the forefront of everything we do at General Motors. Although we believe a recall of these vehicles is not warranted based on the factual and scientific record, NHTSA has directed that we replace the airbag inflators in the vehicles in question. Based on data generated through independent scientific evaluation conducted over several years, we disagree with NHTSA’s position. However, we will abide by NHTSA’s decision and begin taking the necessary steps.”
If you own a 2007-2013 full size pickup or SUV based on the GMT-900 platform, look for a recall notice and get your airbag replaced as soon as possible.