The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently opened an investigation into nearly three-quarter of a million GM trucks and SUVs after six crashes in which the driver’s airbag didn’t deploy.
The problem is said to be related to a malfunction indicator. The problem could affect 2020 and 2021 model year Chevy Suburbans, Silverados, and Tahoes; GMC Sierras and Yukons; and Cadillac Escalades, CT4s, CT5s, and XT4s.
NHTSA said in a notice on Friday that eight injuries have been linked to the issue, but zero fatalities. There are an estimated 749,312 vehicles possibly involved, according to the notice.
From that notice (emphasis mine):
Problem Description: Air bag malfunction indicator (MIL) illumination accompanied by diagnostic trouble codes B0001-1B or B0012-0D may result in a loss of air bag protection for the driver.
The Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) has received fifteen consumer complaints on alleged air bag system malfunctions on certain General Motors (GM) vehicles. Nine of the consumer complaints allege the illumination of an air bag malfunction indicator (MIL). Six crash incidents have significant frontal collision damage where driver frontal air bags failed to deploy. Additionally, all the complaints received by ODI involve either GM vehicles.
[A GM Technical Service Bulletin] also cites rust particles in the connection terminal interface of the driver air bag inflator as the cause of the air bag MIL illumination. Illumination of the air bag MIL under these circumstances may result in a non-deployment of the driver airbag during a frontal collision and increased risk of injury to the driver.
It’s easy to assume that legacy automakers making products they’ve made for decades and decades may, at this point, have things down pretty good but then something like this happens.
“ODI is opening this preliminary investigation to determine the scope and severity of the potential problem and to fully assess the potential safety-related issues,” the notice says.
I’ve emailed GM for comment and will update this post if it replies.