Death sparks massive GM recall of Chevrolet Silverado, GMC Sierra trucks

September 09, 2016 by Jerry Hirsch, @Jerryhirsch

General Motors is recalling millions of pickup trucks and sport utility vehicles it has sold recently in the U.S. because a software glitch can prevent the front airbags from deploying in a crash.

The automaker said Friday it knows of one death and three injuries linked to the problem.

The recall affects 3.64 million vehicles sold in the United States, including the 2015-2017 model year Chevrolet Tahoe, Suburban and Silverado HD; GMC Yukon, Yukon XL and Sierra HD; and Cadillac Escalade and Escalade ESV, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Other affected vehicles include the 2014-2016 model year Buick LaCrosse and Chevrolet SS and Spark EV and the 2014-2017 model year Chevrolet Corvette, Trax, Caprice PPV and Silverado 1500; Buick Encore; and GMC Sierra 1500.

GM said the sensing and diagnostic module, or SDM, in these vehicles contains a software defect that may prevent the deployment of the front airbags and seat belt pretensioners in certain situations.

The automaker learned of the problem in May when a report was filed in GM’s “Speak Up for Safety” system detailing a crash involving a 2014 Chevrolet Silverado truck in which the driver’s frontal airbag and seatbelt pretensioners were said not to have deployed.

A GM safety investigator obtained records from the truck’s electronic data recorder, or EDR. GM shared the data with Delphi, the auto parts and electronics supplier that provided the system, according to a NHTSA report. GM then identified and retrieved additional EDR records from other incidents involving similar vehicles with similar allegations.

By last month GM had enough data to start road testing the problem at its Milford Proving Grounds in Michigan. GM and Delphi discovered that the SDMs have a diagnostic “oscillation test” routine in their software than can be improperly activated in rare circumstances, interfering with the proper functioning of the safety system.

GM plans to tell its customers to take their vehicles back to their local dealers. Technicians will correct the problem by updating the SDM software. Vehicles that have had a previous air bag deployment will have the SDM replaced. Owners won’t be charged for the work.


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