General Motors (GM) will recall 5.9 million vehicles in the U.S. to replace potentially dangerous Takata airbag inflators.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced the decision on Monday, November 23, and comes despite claims by GM that the airbags in its vehicles are safe.
The NHTSA’s decision is part of the largest multi-automaker recall in history. The complex operation involving most of the major automakers began in 2009 after it was discovered that Takata airbag inflators could degrade over time and, if activated, explode and spray sharp metal fragments inside the vehicle, causing injury or even death to its occupants.
Following the NHTSA’s announcement this week, GM is now preparing to recall various pick-up trucks and SUVs manufactured between 2007 and 2014. They include the Chevrolet Silverado 1500, 2500, and 3500 pick-ups, the Chevrolet Suburban, Tahoe, and Avalanche, the Cadillac Escalade, GMC Sierra 1500, 2500, and 3500, and the GMC Yukon.
The NHTSA has given GM 30 days to send it a plan on how the automaker intends to organize the recall. Anyone who believes they may have an affected vehicle can visit the NHTSA’s website for the latest information. General Motors’ customer support page is here.
Tens of millions of vehicles made by 19 different automakers have been recalled over the last decade to replace Takata airbags after it was found that the propellant used to make them inflate can deteriorate over time. In the U.S., this is likely to take place more quickly in locations that experience high temperature fluctuation and extreme humidity.
“NHTSA concluded that the GM inflators in question are at risk of the same type of explosion after long-term exposure to high heat and humidity as other recalled Takata inflators,” the agency said in a statement released on Monday.
GM responded: “Based on data generated through independent scientific evaluation conducted over several years, we disagree with NHTSA’s position,” adding, “However, we will abide by NHTSA’s decision and begin taking the necessary steps.”
GM had earlier stated that Northrop Grumman had performed testing on more than 4,000 of its inflators by subjecting them to humidity and temperature cycling in a lab setting, but it saw no explosions or unexpected behavior.
The NHTSA has previously confirmed that 18 people in the U.S. have been killed following the activation of a defective Takata airbag, with an additional 12 deaths around the world linked to the issue. In addition, at least 250 people in the U.S. have allegedly been injured by exploding Takata airbags.
Michigan-based Joyson Safety Systems acquired Takata’s assets after the Japanese company filed for bankruptcy in 2017.