General Motors (GM) has recalled 4.3 million vehicles for a software problem that can prevent airbags from deploying in a crash. The defect, which affects all of GM’s current full-size pickups and SUVs, is linked to one death and three injuries. The repair involves updating software in the sensing and diagnostic module that controls airbag deployment and does not require replacement of any physical parts for most vehicles. The recall covers the following vehicles: 2014-16 Buick LaCrosse, Chevrolet SS and Chevrolet Spark EV; 2014-17 Chevrolet Corvette, Trax, Caprice and Silverado 1500, Buick Encore and GMC Sierra 1500; and the 2015-17 Chevrolet Tahoe, Suburban and Silverado HD, GMC Yukon, Yukon XL and Sierra HD, and Cadillac Escalade and Escalade ESV.
More than 3.6 million of the vehicles are in the U.S., and there is no link to the industry’s ongoing global recalls for explosive airbags made by Japan’s Takata Corp. It is GM’s largest recall this year. GM, in a statement, said the software can prevent airbag deployment “in certain rare circumstances when a crash is preceded by a specific event impacting vehicle dynamics.” The airbag control modules were supplied by Delphi Automotive, which said it produced them “in compliance with GM’s product specifications and validation criteria.” Delphi, in a statement, said it was cooperating with GM’s recall.
GM said it was alerted to the problem in May by way of Speak Up for Safety, a program encouraging employees to report potential dangers that was established in response to GM’s 2014 ignition-switch recalls. The report said the airbags and seat-belt pretensioners in a 2014 Silverado did not deploy in a crash. GM said it began investigating the issue on June 7. It provided data from the crashed Silverado to Delphi on June 28 and spent several weeks in July gathering reports of similar incidents and allegations. The company conducted three days of road tests at its Milford, Mich., proving ground before deciding on Aug. 31 to conduct a recall. The ignition-switch recalls also involved airbags failing to deploy, resulting in at least 124 deaths and 275 injuries, but in those vehicles the problem was caused by power to the vehicle being cut off inadvertently rather than a software problem. Due to GM’s mishandling of the ignition-switch defect, GM’s handling of safety issues is being monitored by former federal prosecutor Bart Schwartz.
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