General Motors (GM) is recalling almost 1 million Buick, Chevrolet, and GMC SUVs due to faulty airbag inflators that may rupture during a collision. The recall affects 994,763 vehicles, including the Buick Enclave, Chevrolet Traverse, and GMC Acadia from the 2014 to 2017 model years. The airbag inflators were manufactured by Tennessee-based ARC Automotive Inc. and carry the risk of exploding and spraying shrapnel at drivers and passengers.
Although GM said it was aware of two prior explosions of airbag inflators in 2015 Chevrolet Traverse vehicles, the company is still investigating the issue with the assistance of a third-party engineering firm. Owners of the affected vehicles may have their airbag inflators replaced at a dealership free of charge.
The recall comes after federal regulators demanded that ARC Automotive Inc. recall 67 million airbag inflators in the U.S. due to the risk of them exploding and causing serious injuries or fatalities. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has said that at least two people have been killed by the defective devices in the U.S. and Canada. One of these crashes involved a Michigan mother of 10 who was killed in her 2015 Chevrolet Traverse after shrapnel from the airbag inflator hit her neck.
The NHTSA has tentatively concluded that ARC Automotive Inc.’s front driver and passenger inflators are defective, following an eight-year investigation. However, ARC Automotive Inc. is denying that its design is defective and claims any problems are related to isolated manufacturing issues. The company’s refusal to issue a recall sets up a legal battle with regulators.
GM said it was taking this recall action out of an abundance of caution and with the safety of its customers as its highest priority. The automaker has issued two smaller airbag inflator recalls in the past and has assured customers that it is committed to providing safe vehicles.