America's Biggest Automaker Has A Major Truck Problem

Recall / Comments

7 million trucks and SUVs are subject to a major recall.

The Takata airbag recall dates back to 2014 and has since become the largest and most complex vehicle safety recall in US history. These airbags, installed in vehicles mainly from 2002 through 2015, have faulty inflators and could explode, sending metal shards from a cartridge with propellant wafers into a vehicles' cabin. To date, 27 people worldwide have been killed, 18 of whom were in the US. The recall affected several major automakers, including Ford, Honda, Toyota, Mazda, Audi, BMW, and General Motors.

And now GM is being forced to add more vehicles to the recall list after the US government ordered them to do so. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) declared that GM must recall 7 million pickup trucks and SUVs worldwide to replace those likely dangerous Takata airbag inflators.

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These vehicles were built from 2007 through 2014 and include the Chevrolet Silverado 1500, 2500, and 3500, Chevy Suburban, Tahoe, and Avalanche, their GMC counterparts, and the Cadillac Escalade. This will cost the automaker about $1.2 billion, which is about one-third of its net income so far for 2020. But why is this happening now given that the Takata recalls have been ongoing for years? Because GM had been petitioning the NHTSA since 2016 claiming its own internal testing showed the airbag inflator canisters were safe.

A total of four petitions had been filed but the NHTSA ultimately denied them all this week. The government safety agency stands firm in its belief the inflators can still explode. Vehicle owners had been keeping track of GM's petitions (a total of four were filed) and have been concerned all along the automaker cared more about money than safety.

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"Based on this information and information provided to the petition's public docket, NHTSA concluded that the GM inflators in question are at risk of the same type of explosion after long-term exposure to high heat and humidity as other recalled Takata inflators," the agency said.

To date, at least 63 million inflators have been recalled and the NHTSA's internal data indicates over 11 million of those recalls have yet to be fixed. A total of 100 million airbag inflators have been recalled globally. But the good news is that following the NHTSA's decision this week, all Takata inflators in the US have now been recalled.

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