GM Recalling 3.6M Cars For Airbag Issue Linked To One Death, Several Injuries

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Following the death of one person and the injuries of three others, General Motors has recalled more than 3.6 million vehicles over a software issue that could prevent the front airbags from deploying when needed. 

General Motors announced the voluntary recall of approximately 3,640,162 vehicles after determining that in rare cases, the car’s computers can go into test mode, meaning airbags would not inflate in the event of a crash.

According to GM, the sensing and diagnostic module, which controls the airbag and deployment, contains a software defect that “may prevent the deployment of frontal airbags and pretensioners in certain rare circumstances when a crash is preceded by a specific event impacting vehicle dynamics.”

The recall covers model year 2014 to 2016 Buick LaCrosse, Chevrolet SS, and Spark EV; model year 2014 to 2016 Corvette, Trax, Caprice PPV, and Silverado 1500, Buick Encore; and GMC Sierra 1500; and model year 2015 to 2017 Tahoe, Suburban and Silverado HD, GMC Yukon, Yukon XL, and Sierra HD, as well as Cadillac Escalade and Escalade ESV.

GM told the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in a notice [PDF] that it became aware of the issue in May when a report was filed in the company’s Speak Up for Safety system related to a crash involving a 2014 Chevrolet Silverado truck in which the driver’s frontal airbag and seatbelt pretensioners were alleged not to have deployed.

GM opened an investigation into the issue on June 7 and assigned a product investigator on June 8.

The carmaker’s investigator obtained records from the electronic data recorder of that vehicle and others, and provided the information to the sensing and diagnostic module (SDM) supplier. Further analysis and road tests of vehicles in August led the supplier and GM to initiate the recall.

While GM doesn’t disclose in its notification how many injuries and deaths have been linked to the issue, the Detroit News reports that one fatality and three injuries have been reported.

Owners of affected vehicles will be notified and dealers will update the SDM software. Vehicles that have had a previous air bag deployment will have the SDM replaced.