GM Recalls Millions of Vehicles for Possible Air-Bag, Seat-Belt Failures – Wall Street Journal

Posted: Saturday, September 10, 2016

The 2016 Chevrolet Tahoe Z71; Tahoes from 2015-2017 model years are affected by GM's latest recall.

General Motors Co.


recalled nearly 4.3 million vehicles globally with defective software that can cause air bags and seat belts to fail, a problem linked to one death and three injuries that the auto maker spotted through an internal program launched in the wake of its mishandling of a faulty ignition switch blamed for 124 fatalities.

A sensing diagnostic module in the affected vehicles can improperly activate a test under certain circumstances that prevents the safety devices from deploying, GM said in U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration filings disclosed on Friday. The affected vehicles include an array of pickup trucks, sport-utility vehicles and cars with model years ranging from 2014 to 2017, the company said.

GM said dealers would repair or replace the SDM software on owners’ vehicles free of charge. The company said the cost of the recall isn’t expected to be material and would be reflected in third-quarter earnings.

GM in May was alerted to the crash of a 2014 Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck in which air bags and seal-belt pretensioners allegedly failed as part of an internal program the company launched urging employees to speak up when spotting safety issues, according to documents filed with U.S. auto-safety regulators. GM started the program, “Speak up for Safety,” in 2014 after the auto maker failed for more than a decade to recall millions of older cars with defective ignition switches.

A GM spokesman said the car maker identified one death and three injuries related to the safety defect but didn’t have further details on the May crash.

After probing the incident throughout the summer and collecting data from the black boxes in the truck and other vehicles with similar alleged problems, GM decided at the end of August to conduct a safety recall, according to the regulatory documents. GM collaborated with Delphi Automotive


PLC, the supplier of the sending diagnostic module, on the probe, according to the documents.

“Delphi’s [sensing and diagnostic module] is used on select GM models and fully meets the performance specifications GM provided,” a Delphi spokesman said in a statement. “Any additional performance enhancements to the specifications are at GM’s discretion and we are fully supporting it in this process.”

The recall comes some two-and-half years after GM recalled roughly 2.6 million older cars with a defective ignition switch that can slip from the run position, cutting engine power and disabling safety features including air bags. GM has reached settlements related to the switch with the U.S. Justice Department, shareholders and thousands of consumers totaling more than $2 billion.

Chief Executive Mary Barra urged employees to sound alarms going forward when spotting possible safety problems and launched a program to recognize them for doing so.

The current recall affects certain 2014-2016 Buick LaCrosse and Chevrolet SS and Spark EV vehicles; and 2014-2017 Chevrolet Corvette, Trax, Caprice PPV and Silverado 1500 vehicles.

Other affected vehicles include 2014-2017 Buick Encore and GMC Sierra 1500 vehicles; and 2015-2017 Chevrolet Tahoe, Suburban, and Silverado HD vehicles; GMC Yukon, Yukon XL and Sierra HD vehicles; and Cadillac Escalade and Escalade ESV vehicles.

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