Feds investigating possible air bag failures in GM vehicles

DETROIT — The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is investigating complaints that air bags installed on thousands of General Motors vehicles may not deploy properly in a crash.

The agency’s investigation encompasses nearly 750,000 Chevrolet, Cadillac and GMC vehicles from the 2020 and 2021 model years, and the majority of suspected vehicles are full-sized pickup trucks and sport utility vehicles, the Detroit Free Press reported.

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According to documents posted Tuesday on the NHTSA website, the agency has fielded 15 complaints to date of air bag malfunctions, including six crashes that resulted in eight injuries, the newspaper reported.

“Six crash incidents have significant frontal collision damage where driver frontal air bags failed to deploy,” the agency documents stated.

Although GM issued a service bulletin alerting vehicle dealers to the problem in March, a formal recall has not been issued.

Per the bulletin, rust particles can reportedly accumulate on a driver’s air bag connection terminal, causing the safety feature’s malfunction light to come on and potentially disable the air bags from inflating in the event of a crash.

Specifically, the NHTSA probe affects:

• Chevrolet Silverados

• GMC Sierras

• Chevrolet Tahoes

• Chevrolet Suburbans

• GMC Yukons

• Cadillac Escalades

• Cadillac CT4 sedans

• Cadillac CT5 sedans

• Cadillac XT4 SUVs

In a statement obtained by The Associated Press, GM contradicted the safety agency’s complaints, saying it has no knowledge of air bags failing to inflate on roadways due to the problem. The company said its own engineering analysis found that the air bags will inflate in a crash even if the malfunction light is on.

“To the extent there are vehicles in the field that experience this condition, those vehicles will be repaired under warranty,” the company stated.

-- The Associated Press contributed to this report.