It took 4 years, but the shoe finally dropped. Way back in 2016, General Motors filed a petition with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), stating, in effect, that GM should be excluded from Takata air bag recall on certain vehicles because its inflator design and vehicle integration rendered any defects produced by the equipment to be “inconsequential.”
Late last week, the NHTSA denied the petition.
In case you aren’t familiar with the Takata air bag recalls, let’s back up a minute.
Once upon a time, Takata was the major supplier of air bag inflators for pretty much every automaker in the U.S. However, it was discovered back in 2015 that the air bag inflators were defective, degrading after long-term exposure to high humidity and temperature cycling.
Due to the degradation, when the air bag deployed, it could act like a nail bomb, sending shrapnel into the cabin (and your face, head, neck, chest – you get the idea). There are 18 known deaths and hundreds of injuries relating to the ruptured inflators in the U.S. alone.
Five years later, the Takata recalls have become the largest recall in U.S. spanning 19 vehicle manufactures and more than 60 million airbag inflators.
With the denial of GM’s claim, there are 5.9 million vehicles that will be up for recall soon. They include the following vehicles from the 2007 – 2014 model years:
In a prepared statement, GM responded to the NHTSA petition denial with:
“The safety and trust of those who drive our vehicles is at the forefront of everything we do at General Motors. Although we believe a recall of these vehicles is not warranted based on the factual and scientific record, NHTSA has directed that we replace the airbag inflators in the vehicles in question. Based on data generated through independent scientific evaluation conducted over several years, we disagree with NHTSA’s position. However, we will abide by NHTSA’s decision and begin taking the necessary steps.”
So, there’s no word on when the recall will actually take place, but assume it will be soon.
Frankly, we knew this was coming, and we’re not sure why GM has been dragging its feet for four years while potentially putting customers’ lives at risk. And we’re really glad GM isn’t going to issue any additional appeals or petitions trying to circumvent the process.
If you own one of the affected trucks or SUVs, you’ll likely get a personal communication from GM in the next few weeks. However, if you want to be more proactive, you can visit the NHTSA’s section on the Takata air bag recall to check if your vehicle is affected as well as sign up for alerts about any future recall affecting your vehicle.
Oh, and if you like reading legalese, you can read the full claim denial on NHTSA’s website.
We also try to track the larger vehicle recalls, in our recalls section, so we’ll post there, too, as soon as we get the official notification.