GM recalls nearly 1 million vehicles for air bag defect

WASHINGTON — General Motors said on Friday it will recall nearly 1 million sport utility vehicles in the United States because the driver’s airbag inflator may explode during deployment.

The recall covers 994,763 Buick Enclave, Chevrolet Traverse, and GMC Acadia vehicles from the 2014 through 2017 model years with modules produced by ARC Automotive Inc. Dealers will replace the driver’s airbag module.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said a driver in Michigan of a 2017 Chevrolet Traverse was in a crash in which the front-driver airbag inflator ruptured during deployment causing facial injuries.

An April 25 inspection confirmed that the front driver airbag inflator ruptured in the vehicle.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) demanded the recall of 67 million air bag inflators because it believes there is a safety defect, but auto supplier ARC Automotive Inc rejected the U.S. regulator’s request, documents released on Friday show.

The auto safety agency said the inflators pose an unreasonable risk of death or injury.

Even as ruptures mount, “ARC has not made a defect determination that would require a recall of this population,” NHTSA said in its demand letter to the Tennessee-based company. “Air bag inflators that project metal fragments into vehicle occupants, rather than properly inflating the attached air bag, create an unreasonable risk of death and injury.”

GM said it was still investigating the issue with the assistance of a third-party engineering firm. “GM is taking this expanded field action out of an abundance of caution and with the safety of our customers as our highest priority,” the Detroit automaker said.

GM said it was aware of two prior ruptures of ARC-manufactured airbag inflators in 2015 Chevrolet Traverse vehicles, and GM conducted two earlier small recalls of about 3,000 ARC inflators.

All three rupture events in Chevrolet Traverse vehicles involved the same inflator variant.

ARC noted in a letter made public Friday that no root cause for those ruptures has been identified by ARC or GM. ARC said it was assessing the scope of GM’s recall. 

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