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GM Recalls 400 Vehicles Due to Defective Takata Air Bags

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Exploding Takata air bag problems have plagued a number of automakers, including Honda, Toyota, Chrysler, Nissan, BMW, Ford, Subaru, and more. So far, GM had only a few vehicles on the list, but that list has recently expanded.

According to a recent U.S. News report, GM has added 400 of its vehicles to the massive Takata recalls, which has so far affected over 19 million vehicles sold in the U.S.

New GM Vehicles Added to Takata Recall List

Takata has been conducting tests on its airbags, and recently notified GM of a failed test that affected some GM vehicles. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), those currently on the list for repairs include:

• Chevrolet Silverado 2500 (2007-2008)
• Chevrolet Silverado 3500 (2007-2008)
• GMC Sierra 2500 (2007-2008)
• GMC Sierra 2500 (2007-2008)
• Pontiac Vibe (2003-2007)
• Saab 9-2x (2005)

This new recall, however, will affect more vehicles, including the following 2015 models:

• Buick LaCrosse
• Cadillac XTS
• Chevrolet Camaro
• Equinox
• Malibu
• GMC Terrain

These vehicles have front seat-mounted side impact air bags that may be defective.

Newer Model and Side Air Bags Now Under Suspicion

This latest recall is a reflection of the NHTSA turning its eagle eye on newer models of vehicles that may have Takata air bags. Prior to this, Takata has maintained that only older models with aged air bag inflators exposed to high heat and humidity were at risk of exploding upon deployment. Such explosions can send small pieces of shrapnel into the vehicle that cause hearing and vision loss, knife-like wounds, and uncontrolled bleeding leading to death.

A mid-summer report of a 2015 Volkswagen Tiguan that had a malfunctioning side air bag raised new questions about the safety of later-model vehicles with Takata products. So far, recalls have included only driver and passenger front air bags, but this was not only a newer-model vehicle, but the air bag that malfunctioned was a side air bag.

The NHTSA is investigating, and Takata is cooperating by conducting tests on the air bags. We’re likely to see more recall announcements as the investigation continues.

Is Air Bag Propellant Safe?

At the center of the air bag controversy is the chemical used in Takata air bag inflators. Takata started using ammonium nitrate in 2001, despite concerns expressed by some of its own engineers. The chemical is known to be unstable, particularly when exposed to high temperatures and humidities.

The NHTSA and Congress have asked for more data to confirm that this chemical is safe. If it is determined that it is too unstable, more recalls are likely to follow. Some replacement air bags may also contain this chemical, though many automakers are refusing to use Takata air bags in their replacements. They’re turning to those made by other manufacturers instead—manufacturers that don’t use ammonium nitrate.