GM: Our Takata Airbags Are Better Than Those Other Takata Airbags

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
gm our takata airbags are better than those other takata airbags

A crop of General Motors pickups and SUVs left the factory with potentially deadly Takata airbags, but the automaker has won approval to delay their recall.

According to The Detroit News, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has allowed GM to defer repairs on 2.5 million vehicles so it can test the lifespan of the faulty parts. Naturally, there are conditions attached.

The GM vehicles make up a small part of the massive Takata recall, which so far has seen about 70 million vehicles recalled to fix airbag inflators that could explode, leading to serious injury or death. The ammonium nitrate propellant in the inflators breaks down over time — a problem compounded by heat and humidity. So far, the issue has been linked to 11 deaths and hundreds of injuries.

The NHTSA said today that it would grant GM “a short deferral” of its obligation to fix the airbags. Takata airbags are found in certain 2007 to 2011 GM vehicles, including the Chevrolet Silverado, GMC Sierra, Chevrolet Tahoe, Chevrolet Suburban, Cadillac Escalade and GMC Yukon.

In September, the automaker petitioned the road safety regulator in the hopes of conducting long-term tests with the help of a third-party research firm. The tests aim to nail down the safe service life of the Takata components. GM has claimed the inflators in its vehicles are safer than the others, thanks to a more robust design.

If the agreement sounds dicey, make no mistake — the NHTSA has eyes on GM’s experiment and can pull the plug at any time. The automaker must also deliver monthly updates.

“If at any point there is any evidence of a testing or field rupture, NHTSA can immediately act to reject the petition and compel the recall,” NHTSA spokesman Bryan Thomas told The Detroit News. “GM is continuing its work to design replacement inflators in the interim.”

GM feels that even the highest-risk vehicles are safe until the end of 2019, and wants a chance to prove it. The study should be complete by August of next year.

Earlier this year, a dire-sounding NHTSA bulletin targeted Honda and Acura models from the early 2000s, explaining that those vehicles faced a much higher risk of airbag rupture. Since then, a California woman died as a result of an airbag rupture in one of the flagged vehicles.

[Image: RL GNZLZ/ Flickr ( CC BY-SA 2.0)]

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  • MatadorX MatadorX on Nov 22, 2016

    Ehhh I don't see the difference between owning a Takata equipped domestic car that HAS been forced to be recalled, and one that hasn't. Keep in mind these guys aren't like Honda/Mazda/Toyota, who are bending backwards to fix the situation, get parts made, contact owners, and install the new part. The domestics couldn't give less of a care. From what I gather, until the wreckage that is Takata is purchased and resumes production, the recalled parts will be on indefinite back-order, with the idea that "well, we notified the consumer, so who cares if the parts take years to show up, we are covered from lawsuits...." Meanwhile my 08 Milan has been waiting for something....anything...communication wise from Ford as to timeline for getting the passenger bag fixed...for over a year. That alone was enough to steer my latest $25k vehicle purchase elsewhere. ...And no if you were wondering this doesn't just affect some odd-ball Mercury. List of cars affected, that Ford has made ZERO effort to begin actually replacing the air bag or even getting the parts made: All Mustangs 05-11 All Rangers 07-11 All Edge/MKX 07-10 And of course all Fusions, Milans, MKZs 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011. That many many millions of cars/affected owners. Likely many times the total volume of all affected Mazdas, however unlike Ford they actually care about their customers and are getting the cars fixed. Why so many love Fords is beyond me. The company clearly cares little about long term retained ownership.

    • See 2 previous
    • Psychoboy Psychoboy on Nov 23, 2016

      @Art Vandelay I've not seen that at any of my local dealers. Any used cars that were on the recall list either got fixed, or parked until parts were available. Existing customers' cars were fixed, parked and given a rental/loaner, or released with a written warning about the open recall. Now that parts supplies are keeping up with demand, all the loaners are home and Honda is back to begging customers to get their cars fixed. Most dealerships are sitting on dozens of airbags that have been ordered for cars and have been waiting a month or more for the customer to come back.

  • SoCalMikester SoCalMikester on Nov 23, 2016

    well, my JTKKT VIN toyota scion xA keeps trucking along. no recalls of any sort, whatsoever. JDM baybee. boring and slow, but this could well could be the last car i ever own as a primary car. Im in to scooters (japanese megavespas) as a primary form of transport, so im happy

  • GregLocock Two adjacent states in Australia have different attitudes to roadworthy inspections. In NSW they are annual. In Victoria they only occur at change of ownership. As you'd expect this leads to many people in Vic keeping their old car.So if the worrywarts are correct Victoria's roads would be full of beaten up cars and so have a high accident rate compared with NSW. Oh well, the stats don't agree.
  • Lorenzo In Massachusetts, they used to require an inspection every 6 months, checking your brake lights, turn signals, horn, and headlight alignment, for two bucks.Now I get an "inspection" every two years in California, and all they check is the smog. MAYBE they notice the tire tread, squeaky brakes, or steering when they drive it into the bay, but all they check is the smog equipment and tailpipe emissions.For all they would know, the headlights, horn, and turn signals might not work, and the car has a "speed wobble" at 45 mph. AFAIK, they don't even check EVs.
  • Not Tire shop mechanic tugging on my wheel after I complained of grinding noise didn’t catch that the ball joint was failing. Subsequently failed to prevent the catastrophic failure of the ball joint and separation of the steering knuckle from the car! I’ve never lived in a state that required annual inspection, but can’t say that having the requirement has any bearing on improving safety given my experience with mechanics…
  • Mike978 Wow 700 days even with the recent car shortages.
  • Lorenzo The other automakers are putting silly horsepower into the few RWD vehicles they have, just as Stellantis is about to kill off the most appropriate vehicles for that much horsepower. Somehow, I get the impression the OTHER Carlos, Tavares, not Ghosn, doesn't have a firm grasp of the American market.