GM has issued an airbag recall for 410,000 2015 and 2016 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickup trucks over concerns that the roof rail airbag inflators may malfunction. The roof rail airbag is sometimes called the side curtain airbag. It is mounted in the roof liner and intended to eject downward to cover the side windows in the event of a crash.
The roof rail airbags in the affected vehicles may deploy without warning or eject parts into the cabin of the pickup truck. People who were affected by the roof rail airbag or those who own or leased a 2015 or 2016 Chevrolet Silverado or GMC Sierra pickup truck may be eligible for compensation through a GM Roof Rail Airbag Lawsuit.
GM Pickup Truck Airbag Recall
In July 2021, General Motors issued a recall for certain models of Chevy and GMC pickup trucks because of the potential for malfunction of the roof rail airbag module (RRAB) which may result in unexpected deployment or the side curtain airbag.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA), the roof rail airbag inflator side wall may rupture, or the end cap may detach from the inflator. This may result in unexpected airbag deployment, or sudden release of compressed gases which may eject or propel the components into the passenger cabin. A failure of this type may be catastrophic and increase the risk of crash, injury, or death.
Truck Models Included in Recall
The GM roof rail airbag recall was prompted by reports of three unoccupied Silverado pickup trucks in Texas and Florida which experienced ruptured airbags.
GM determined that the malfunction was caused by corrosion due to moisture introduced into the inflator during manufacturing and worsened by high heat temperature and temperature changes in hot regions.
Vehicles involved in the recall include:
- 2015-2016 Chevrolet Silverado 1500, 2500HD and 3500HD pickup trucks
- 2015-2016 GMC Sierra 1500, 2500HD and 3500HD pickup trucks
NHTSA has noted that no crashes have been blamed on the airbag failure thus far and drivers have not been advised to stop driving their vehicles, however sudden deployment, and ejection of airbag parts into passenger compartment may increase the risk of accident or result in serious harm due to flying debris.
GM Response to Roof rail Airbag Risk
A recall was issued by GM in July 2021 for an estimated 410,000 GMC and Chevrolet pickups. This followed a stop-sale order and recall affecting a smaller number of trucks which had been issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NTHSA) in November 2020. The 2020 recall identified a problem with the RRAB inflator end cap but did not determine the origin of the problem and was limited to about 10,000 vehicles.
GM’s initial response included notification of recall to an apparent 9,300 owners beginning in January 2021. The company indicated that dealerships would replace the roof rail airbag on affected vehicles. In 2021, GM expanded the previous recall with announcement of the RRAB issue extending to an estimated 410,000 vehicles and identified a moisture concern within the air bag inflator.
GM has offered a similar roof rail airbag inflator module replacement for the vehicles identified in the 2021 recall but have not addressed other concerns. People who purchased a GMC or Chevrolet vehicle affected by the recall may have seen decreased vehicle value due to concerns of safety. In addition, the delay in recalling 400,000 of the pickups with faulty airbag inflators may have been placed at additional risk due to delay of adequate response.
Prior Recalls of GM Vehicles
The July 2021 recall has estimated that it involves 410,000 vehicles in the U.S. A previous recall for the same roof rail airbag problem was issued in December 2020 but included only an estimated 9,300 vehicles. This recall is the latest in a number of problems involving airbags around the country but is not caused by the Takata airbag or the SDM Calibration problem cited in other recalls and lawsuits. It is a new, and separate issue.
General Motors has notified vehicle owners but consumers may also check if a certain vehicle is included at the NHTSA website by entering their vehicle identification number (VIN). If eligible, GM has indicated that they will replace the airbag inflator but has not announced any additional remedies.
People who have been injured or placed at risk by a vehicle subject to improper airbag inflation, deployment or failure and people who have owned or leased a 2015 or 2016 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickup truck may be eligible for compensation beyond the roof rail airbag replacement that has been offered by General Motors.