GM seeks to delay Takata air bag recall of 1M trucks

Michael Wayland
The Detroit News

General Motors Co. is seeking a one-year delay from federal regulators of a planned recall of 980,000 vehicles with Takata air bag infiltrators.

In a Sept. 2 petition filed to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that was made available Friday, the Detroit-based automaker said the request will let the company and a third-party research firm complete a long-term study to better understand the service life expectancy of the parts. GM expects the study to be completed in August 2017.

“GM is taking a systematic, engineering-based approach to better understanding the performance of Takata inflators installed in GM vehicles, and GM continues to share this information with NHTSA on a regular basis,” GM spokesman Tom Wilkinson said in an email Friday.

The recall involves certain pickups and SUVs based on the GMT900 platform from the 2007-12 model years, including the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra, and Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban, Cadillac Escalade and GMC Yukon. The recall was scheduled to begin at the end of this year.

NHTSA will evaluate the petition and make a decision whether to grant or deny the petition no later than Nov. 16, following a two-week comment period that is expected to begin Sept. 20.

GM believes the vehicles are safe to drive and that the propellant in these inflators is “not currently at risk.” It believes these inflators will likely perform as designed until at least the end of 2019.

The vehicles were initially recalled as part of the massive Takata recall campaign, which began in 2013, and has grown to include nearly 70 million inflators in cars made by 17 manufacturers.

The impacted vehicles have Takata air bag inflators that could rupture because of a 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 throw metal shards that can kill or injure drivers and passengers. Shrapnel from exploding Takata inflators has been linked to at least 11 deaths and more than 100 injuries globally.

GM at the time 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.

It could cost GM $870 million if it has to replace 6.8 million Takata air bags overall in full-size trucks and SUVs, according to previous regulatory filings.

This petition was filed in accordance with NHTSA’s May 3 amendment to the Takata Consent Order and subsequent NHTSA guidance documents.

The agency has not received any other petitions from other carmakers to modify the Defect Information Reports that is due to be filed on December 31.

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Twitter: @MikeWayland