This week, General Motors (GM) recalled nearly a half-million Cadillac, Chevrolet, and GMC vehicles due to a seat belt problem. The belts in the third row of affected vehicles may not properly restrain passengers during a collision, greatly increasing the risk of injury or death. Some GM drivers have reported that pieces of the buckle assembly in their vehicles have come off entirely. 

GM Seat Belt Recall

The following SUV models are included in the massive recall: 

  • 2021-2022 Cadillac Escalade
  • 2021 Cadillac Escalade ESV
  • 2021-2022 Chevrolet Suburban
  • 2021-2022 Chevrolet Tahoe
  • 2021-2022 GMC Yukon
  • 2021-2022 GMC Yukon XL

In documents filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), GM attributed the seat belt problem to a faulty rivet stating, “if the third-row seatbelt assembly is not properly riveted, it may not properly restrain occupants in a crash, increasing the risk of injury.”  GM says that the third-row seat belt buckle assembly “may not have been properly formed during the manufacturing process.” Additionally, the company also insists that the operators at the seatbelt maker’s plant may not have followed manufacturing processes correctly and thus may have “inadvertently missed the rivet forming operation.”

The automaker’s latest recall affects 485,155 vehicles in total, covering 41,636 Cadillac Escalade; 25,158 Cadillac Escalade ESV; 84,338 Chevrolet Suburban; 176,981 Chevrolet Tahoe; 97,436 GMC Yukon; and 58,606 GMC Yukon XL vehicles with third-row seats. All affected vehicles were manufactured between November 12, 2019, and May 27, 2022.

Although GM says it is not aware of any injuries or collisions due to the seat belt error, the automaker has received multiple field reports about the problem. On May 14, a GM customer told a dealership about a defective seatbelt assembly in their 2021 Chevrolet Suburban. Four days later, a manager reported this to GM’s safety program. The company went on to launch an investigation into the issue on May 31. 

Field reports likely connected to the same safety belt defect were submitted to GM between October 2020 and June 2022. The automaker says it is aware of a total of eight incidents where the seat belt buckle assemblies separated, however, none of these resulted in injuries or accidents.

GM Seatbelt Fix

GM announced on August 11 that it will send recall letters to owners and lessees of affected vehicles starting September 26. The company has instructed dealerships to inspect the third-row seat belt buckle assemblies on recalled vehicles and replace them if necessary, at no charge. GM says it expects very few vehicles to fail these inspections.

GM Seatbelt Problems

According to data from NHTSA, seat belts were responsible for saving over 15,000 lives in 2017. Safety restraints and seat belts protect occupants from impacting the dashboard, windshield or being ejected from the vehicle during an accident. As such, they are critical for your safety and survival in an auto accident. Some examples of seat belt issues GM drivers should look out for include:

  • Defective seat belt buckles
  • Premature wear of the buckles
  • Materials breaking
  • Manufacturing defect
  • Improper welding
  • Warning light
  • Seat belt alarm failure

GM attributes the seat belt issues to faulty buckles. When seat belt buckles cannot latch into place or become dislodged, the belt may be unable to restrain passengers in their seats. A malfunctioning seat belt can thus be highly dangerous and greatly increase the risk of injury or death in an accident. If a seat belt breaks during a collision, the occupant may be thrown against the inside of the vehicle, or even completely ejected from the vehicle. Both scenarios can result in severe injury or death.

GM Airbag Problems

In June 2021, GM recalled certain 2021 Buick Envision, Cadillac CT4, CT5, Escalade, Escalade ESV, Chevrolet Tahoe, Corvette, Suburban, GMC Yukon, and Yukon XL due to airbag warning light errors. Several of these same vehicles are also included in the latest seat belt GM recall. According to the recall notice, the air bag malfunction indicator light in affected vehicles may illuminate inconsistently. 

In their formal complaint to NHTSA, one 2021 Chevrolet Tahoe driver noted a warning light that would come on intermittingly in their vehicle, despite repairs: “I have taken my Tahoe to the service department numerous times – as my truck has had a stubborn service safety restraint system warning error code that continues to come on and off. I have taken it to have all recalls serviced as per recall request.”

Airbag failure is another concern. Multiple drivers have also reported to NHTSA that the airbags in their vehicles did not deploy properly during collisions. Here is what one 2021 Chevrolet Suburban driver told NHTSA, “I was involved in a 40pmh frontal impact collision with another vehicle. The initial impact occurred on the driver’s side, front corner of the vehicle. The initial collision… knocked me unconscious for a short time. I then T-boned a truck and finally came to rest again against another vehicle. At no time did my airbags (front or side) deploy.”

The California Lemon Law Experts

Seat belt problems are not unique to vehicles produced by GM. In recent years, numerous other car manufacturers have also implemented recalls for vehicles with similar issues, including Ford, Hyundai, Jeep, Mercedes-Benz, Kia, and Toyota. No matter the make or model of your vehicle, if you are experiencing seat belt problems, you should consult with a lemon law attorney as soon as possible. A seat belt malfunction can cause serious injury or even death in an auto accident. You should not wait until you are in an accident to determine what your options could be.

California’s consumer protection laws cover any vehicle issue that affects its safety, value, or use. Seatbelt, airbag, and structural problems qualify. If you own or lease a vehicle with defective seat belts or some other concern, it could be a lemon. A lemon is a car that the manufacturer cannot repair despite multiple attempts under warranty. 

Consumers who own or lease lemons have legal rights and protections under both state and federal laws. If your vehicle is legally presumed to be a lemon, you could be entitled to a replacement vehicle, cash compensation, or a lemon law refund. This refund consists of all damages associated with your lemon, including your attorney fees. If you reside in California and want to know more about your eligibility and what you could receive in recovery, contact the Lemon Law Experts today.

The Lemon Law Experts have proudly served clients throughout the State of California since 2009. Our lemon law attorneys have been successful in helping clients across the state recover millions in cases against large auto manufacturers like GM. The Lemon Law Experts are highly prepared to assist you at every step of the process.

If you have any questions about your case, let us know. Through a free, no-obligation evaluation, one of our Lemon Law Experts will help you determine if you have a claim and what you could receive in a lemon law settlement. Get started today by giving us a call or filling out an online case evaluation on our website.