Vehicle Occupant-Restraint Systems
The two most well-known and common occupant-restraint systems used in vehicles today are the airbag and seatbelt.
Both systems have evolved a great deal since their conception. The seatbelt for vehicles outdates the airbag by about 68 years, as it was created in 1885 by Edward J. Claghorn, with the objective of protecting taxi passengers in the event of a crash. Though these safety components were invented in the late 19th century, physicians did not start urging manufacturers to implement them into their vehicles until the mid-1930s. They did not become required by law in the United States until 1966, and by the mid-1970s most first-world countries required them in their vehicles.
Nowadays, seatbelts generally include a pretensioner, which essentially locks the belt in place if a crash were to occur.
On the contrary, the airbag wasn’t approved by the United States Patent Office until 1953, and later research found that this compressed air airbag would not work fast or efficiently enough to protect people.
There were many trials and tribulations with different variations of airbags, and they were not widespread in American vehicles until the 1990s.
Currently, airbags typically function by inflating when the vehicle’s crash sensors communicate to the Airbag Electronic Control Init that there has been a collision. Information on the severity of impact, angle, and type of collision is received by the Electronic Control Unit which then uses an algorithm to decide if the airbags need to be deployed.
Before these systems were streamlined, General Motors and Ford spent years lobbying against requirements for airbags.
They claimed that airbags were both inappropriate and unfeasible, which is an interesting stance for General Motors to have had, given the severity of their current airbag defect now.
General Motors Company
As one of the largest automobile manufacturers in the World and the largest automotive manufacturer in the United States, General Motors is also ranked among the country’s top 30 corporations by total revenue.
Formed in 1908, the corporation is well over 100 years old and has had to overcome many obstacles over the years to maintain its status as the leading automobile manufacturer in the country.
These past few years, however, General Motors seems to be facing one of its biggest barriers yet—thousands of consumers have been either injured or killed in collisions due to GM airbags that failed to deploy in these instances.
Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, General Motors, and GMC Airbag and Seatbelt Pretensioner Defect
The origins of these defects stem from a system which they both receive information from in the instance of a crash—the Sensing and Diagnostic Module.
This system commands the seatbelts to tighten and the airbag to deploy as soon as the control unit detects a crash. The problem here is more specifically with the way in which the system is calibrated, as it stops the airbags from deploying and the seatbelt pretensioners from deploying only 45 milliseconds after it detects a crash.
While the system may operate properly in certain situations, it fails to operate properly in collisions that last longer than that and that involve multiple impacts.
For instance, if someone were to collide with a curb before ramming into a tree, there is no evidence provided that the GM airbags would deploy, or the seatbelts will tighten given that the first collision was with the curb. This means that the consumer and passengers would not be protected from the second, more severe impact caused by the collision.
General Motors Class Action Lawsuit – GM Lemon Law Claims
General Motors has allegedly been aware of this airbag defect, considering that they released a related service bulletin in March of this year to dealerships around the country.
Unfortunately, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has noted that while the service bulletin was released to dealerships, there have been no recalls released to consumers. The bulletin itself states that due to the accumulation of rust particles on the airbag connection terminal, the airbag malfunction light could come on which would stop it from inflating in a crash.
General Motors apparently refuted the NHTSA complaints by saying that the airbag failure is independent of whether the malfunction light is illuminated or not and that they are not aware of any correlations between the two.
Many consumers do, however, feel that General Motors has known about the defect and has chosen to conceal it. A group of consumers decided to file a class-action lawsuit against the large corporation though none of their vehicles have experienced the defect. They mention that there are millions of vehicles out there that are unsafe due to the potential risk of airbag failure and there is evidence to suggest that GM should have known.
When the company was reformed in 2009, all the information from the Old GM was acquired, including the documents that mention the reckless decision GM made in using the SDM calibration in their vehicles.
The decision was made by GM after being warned by Delco that halting airbag and seatbelt deployment after only 45 milliseconds was both a dangerous and reckless design risk. Not only this, but the company should have known based on the number of related complaints, individual lawsuits, and investigations conducted.
The NHTSA database alone has over 800 related complaints, which are available to the public. Not only many owners of these vehicles just finding out about this defect, but General Motors continues to sell vehicles with these defects every day.
People across the country have not been made aware of a life-threatening malfunction in the vehicle’s safety system, which is another main point in the lawsuit.
What GM Consumers Are Saying
While none of the plaintiffs in this GM airbag class action lawsuit faced the dangers of this defect, there are many other consumers who did.
One NHTSA complaint states that both the driver and occupant were involved in a fatal collision where the airbags did not deploy, and the control module had no record of the collision.
A separate complaint notes a large collision during snowy weather involving 21 vehicles. One driver in this collision experienced both front and rear impact in this accident, but no airbags were deployed. The consumer’s brother and father were also involved in the accident and were driving two separate Chevrolet trucks—neither of their airbags deployed either.
One complaint, written on behalf of a Chevrolet Trailblazer owner, notes that their mother was involved in an accident where the airbags did not deploy—due to the speed of the vehicle and impact from the collision, the woman sustained fatal injuries.
A GMC Terrain owner mentions that he suffered head injuries from hitting his forehead on the steering wheel during a collision—he was rushed to the hospital immediately. Once released from the hospital 2 days later, the consumer reached out to GMC corporate about the airbag failure. GMC did not comment on the airbag failure and the consumer was notified that GMC had no further interest in the matter.
These are just four of hundreds of complaints regarding this safety issue that General Motors has still not acknowledged.
The following list includes vehicles that are potentially affected by this calibration defect, if you believe your vehicle has this defect—it could be a lemon!
Affected General Motors Vehicles
- Buick Enclave
- Buick Encore
- Buick Envision
- Cadillac Escalade
- Cadillac SRX
- Chevrolet Blazer
- Chevrolet Equinox
- Chevrolet Silverado
- Chevrolet Suburban
- Chevrolet Tahoe
- Chevrolet Trailblazer
- GMC Acadia
- GMC Sierra
- GMC Terrain
- GMC Yukon
Chevrolet, GMC, Cadillac, or Buick Lemon Law Claim? What to Do If You’ve Experienced Airbag or Seatbelt Pretensioner Defects
Maybe you have experienced airbag and seatbelt pretensioner issues with your vehicle, or maybe you have yet to experience these issues but are worried that you may soon. At The Lemon Law Experts, great help is just a phone call away!
Our team of California lemon law attorneys has been helping California consumers with their automobile lemon law claims for over a decade.
Below is a brief list of what you should do if you have experienced issues with your Airbag or Seat Pretensioner:
- Take your vehicle in for repairs at an authorized Chevrolet, GMC, Cadillac, or Buick dealership.
- Make sure all your concerns are noted accurately by the authorized service dealership on the repair records.
- Keep copies of all your repair records and receipts!
If you have taken your vehicle to the dealership for warranty repair work related to these issues on two or more separate occasions, you may have a lemon under California Lemon Law and you could be entitled to a refund!
Contact Us Today!
If you are interested in pursuing a potential lemon law claim, call our team of Lemon Law Experts today. We do not charge you for our representation and our consultations are always fast and free. At our law firm, California lemon law is all that we do.
We have the proven track record, results, and team to provide you with excellent lemon law representation to get you the results you deserve.