GM recalls 1.9M trucks, SUVs with Takata air bags
General Motors Co. said Thursday it is recalling 1.9 million 2007-11 full-size trucks and SUVs with passenger-side Takata air bag inflators, even though the company hopes to prove to federal regulators that the inflators in GM vehicles are safe and that the recall won’t be needed.
The Detroit automaker was one of seven in the past two days to add a total of nearly 4.4 million U.S. vehicles to the massive and still expanding Takata air bag inflator recall. Others adding recalls included Volkswagen AG, Ford Motor Co., Daimler AG , BMW, Jaguar Land Rover and Mercedes Benz. The figure includes the nearly 1.9 million cars recalled by Ford Wednesday.
The recalled vehicles — including certain Cadillac Escalades and Chevrolet Silverado and GM pickups — have Takata air bag inflators that could rupture because of propellant that can degrade after the vehicles have been exposed to long-term humidity and repeated hot-and-cold cycles. If an inflator ruptures, it can send metal shards into the vehicle, which could injure or kill an occupant. Shrapnel from exploding Takata inflators already has been tied to at least 11 deaths and more than 100 injuries worldwide.
GM said it believes its vehicles are safe to drive and is working with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on the next steps in the recall process, which the automaker labeled “preliminary.” The company says it has had no reports of inflators rupturing in the vehicles covered by the recall, even after an estimated 44,000 deployments and in tests of inflators recovered from vehicles on the road.
GM said this is because of the unique Takata inflator made for its trucks and SUVs. The carmaker says they include greater venting, that they are packaged in the instrument panel to minimize exposure to moisture and that the the vehicles have solar-absorbing windshields and side glass that minimize the maximum temperatures that could affect the inflators.
GM said it believes its testing of the Taktata inflators in its vehicles won’t show the type of propellant degradation that would be needed to cause an inflator to rupture before 2019, “if at all,” according to a document GM submitted to the agency.
“We expect to provide NHTSA with additional test data, analysis or other relevant and appropriate evidence in support of our belief that our vehicles do not pose an unreasonable risk to safety,” GM wrote in its recall notice to NHTSA.
NHTSA said GM will need to recall the vehicles.
“The science clearly shows that these inflators become unsafe over time, faster when exposed to humidity and variations of temperature. The recall schedule ensures the inflators will be recalled and replaced before they become dangerous, giving vehicle owners sufficient time to have them replaced before they pose a danger to vehicle occupants,” an agency spokesman said in a statement. “NHTSA will continue to evaluate all available research and will act quickly to protect safety.”
The pushback from GM comes as the automaker already is under a consent agreement with NHTSA after its 2014 recall of 2.59 million older Chevrolet Cobalts and other small cars with defective ignition switches linked to 124 deaths. The order, which includes items such as monthly meetings on vehicle safety issues and lists of vehicles the company is investigating for possible safety issues, was extended by NHTSA for a third and final year last month.
GM said it will continue to test and monitor Takata inflators and it has launched a third-party study to simulate long-term temperature cycles to assess inflator aging and to estimate their service life. The company also is creating a part return program to collect inflators and check those recovered, especially inflators from the high-humidity areas believed to be most at risk.
The company said it if determines at any time that the inflators are unsafe, it will take appropriate action with NHTSA.
The cars identified by the automakers Thursday were included in the massive recall of 35 million to 40 million air bag inflators announced by NHTSA at the beginning of May. The first 12 million makes and models of the recalled autos were identified by the agency last week.
NHTSA’s recall of the Takata air bag inflators will happen over multiple years because of limited replacement parts, and will be prioritized by the areas believed to be at the highest risk.
GM has set up a website (www.gmtakataairbag.com) where consumers can find more information. There is also a special customer service number at (866) 467-9700 for customers to call.
Air bag recalls
Since the recalled models vary by state and age, officials say that the best way to see if your car is affected is to go to Recalls Look-up (https://vinrcl.safercar.gov/vin/) and enter the vehicle identification number. It may take several weeks for all the newly recalled vehicles to be entered into the database.
Here are models covered by Thursday’s recalls:
General Motors Co.
Certain 2007-08 Cadillac Escalade, Escalade ESV, Escalade EXT, Chevrolet Avalanche, Silverado 1500, Suburban, Tahoe, GMC Sierra 1500, Yukon, and Yukon XL. 2007-11 Cadillac Escalade, Escalade ESV and Escalade EXT, Chevrolet Avalanche, Silverado 1500, Suburban and Tahoe, GMC Sierra 1500, Yukon and Yukon XL vehicles. 2009-11 Chevrolet Silverado 2500 and 3500 and GMC Sierra 2500 and 3500.
Ford Motor Co.
Certain 2007-11 Ford Ranger pickups; 2006-11 Ford Fusion, Mercury Milan and Lincoln Zephyr/MKZ vehicles; 2007-10 Ford Edge, Lincoln MKX vehicles; 2005-06 Ford GT vehicles and 2005-11 Ford Mustangs.
Certain 2004-2008 Audi A4 and 2005-2011 Audi A6 cars.
Certain 2010-11 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, 2009-11 Freightliner Sprinter, and 2009 Dodge Sprinter vans.
Jaguar Land Rover
Certain model year 2007-11 Land Rover Range Rover SUVs and 2009-11 Jaguar XF cars.
Certain 2007-11 X5 xDrive30i, X5 xDrive35i, X5 xDrive48i, X5 xDrive50i and X5M vehicles. 2009-11 X5 xDrive35d, 2008-11 X6 xDrive35i, X6 xDrive50i and X6 M vehicles, and 2010-11 X6 ActiveHybrid vehicles.
Certain 2008-11 C300 Sedan, C300 4matic Sedan, C350 Sedan, C63 AMG Sedan vehicles. 2010-11 GLK350, GLK350 4-Matic and E350 Coupe vehicles. 2011 SLS AMG, E350 Convertible, E550 Coupe and E550 Convertible vehicles.