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Why Are Some Chevrolet Colorado ZR2’s Side Airbags Deploying When Off-Roading?

Truck / 24 Comments

And while tackling easy off-road trails at that.

There's an interesting investigative report from Jalopnik claiming that some Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 owners are experiencing side curtain airbag deployments while partaking in what's considered to be light off-roading. Remember, the hot-selling Colorado ZR2 is a tough as nails off-roader, so tackling some light off-road trails shouldn't be a big deal.

Jalopnik spoke with someone who personally witnessed a side airbag deployment. He was participating in an off-road course to raise money for an autism charity but was not driving the ZR2. Instead, he filmed it as it attempted to maneuver its way over a rock and an incline, and then suddenly everyone heard a loud pop followed by a scream.

The pop was the side airbag and the scream came from a shocked ZR2 passenger. Fortunately, no one was hurt and even OnStar called immediately to make sure everyone was okay. But what was not normal is the fact the side airbag deployed in the first place. According to the witness, there was "no jarring, no bump or any impact of any type (triggered it)."

Apparently, this is not the first time this has happened to ZR2s. Chevrolet acknowledged to Jalopnik that it was "aware of this situation happening on rare occasions. The reason it would occur is that head-curtain airbags are designed to deploy if the sensing system predicts that the vehicle is about to roll on its side."

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Fair enough, but affected owners are claiming this thinking runs counter to what the ZR2's promoted capabilities. If it can't handle slight inclines and basic rock crawling without the sensors triggering the side airbags, then what's the point of off-roading? And remember, following any airbag deployment no matter where it's located inside the vehicle, there are going to be some pricey repairs. In the case of this ZR2 owner, the seatbelts are now locked up, the headliner is damaged, and the airbags need replacing. Obviously, he wants GM to pay the repair bill.

In the meantime, his ZR2 is at his Chevrolet dealership being assessed by a third party. Jalopnik's report on this issue is quite extensive, such as when a Colorado, in this case the Z71 model, also spontaneously deployed its "side curtain airbags while driving on a groomed fire road at breakneck speeds ranging from five to seven miles an hour."