Another 5.8 million GM trucks and SUVs added to Takata airbag inflator recall

David J. Neal

What you need to know about Monday’s related announcements from General Motors and the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration about the latest recall from Takata airbag problems.

Vehicles recalled: In an email to the Miami Herald, General Motors said this covered 5.8 million vehicles, from model years 2007-2014, some but not all: Chevrolet Silverado 1500, GMC Sierra 1500, Chevrolet Tahoe, Chevrolet Suburban, Chevrolet Avalanche, GMC Yukon, GMC Yukon XL, Cadillac Escalade, Cadillac Escalade ESV, Cadillac Escalade EXT, and, from model years 2009-2014, some but not all Chevrolet Silverado 2500/3500 and GMC Sierra 2500/3500.

To see if a truck or SUV model is one of the ones involved, go to the NHTSA website and enter the VIN number.

No matter what you drive, do this a couple of times a year to make sure there’s not a recall you didn’t know about.

The problem: The same problem with the explosive airbag inflator that has caused the massive recall of Takata airbags across 19 automobile makes and 60 million vehicles.

As the NHTSA describes the issue “the propellant used in Takata’s air bag inflators degrades after long-term exposure to high humidity and temperature cycling. During airbag deployment, this propellant degradation can cause the inflator to over-pressurize, causing sharp metal fragments (like shrapnel) to penetrate the air bag and enter the vehicle compartment.”

That’s killed 18 people, the NHTSA says, and injured many others.

What happened Monday: General Motors presented a case that, in the above models, the design and installation of the inflators reduced the danger of the Takata airbag defect enough and petitioned to be excluded from the recall.

On Monday, the NHTSA announced, “GM has not met its burden of establishing that the defect is inconsequential to motor vehicle safety, and denies the petition.”

Also, Monday, GM posted a statement on its website: “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.”

What’s next: Owners can expect recall notification letters from General Motors, telling them to bring their vehicles in to a GM dealer’s service department so the problem can be addressed. Service departments should be notified already so if you don’t want to wait, call your service department of choice to schedule an appointment.

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