Last week, both Ford and General Motors announced major defects affecting millions of cars and trucks produced by the automakers. Unfortunately, both of these recently announced defects represent serious safety risks. In fact, the GM airbag defect has already been attributed as a contributing cause of at least one death. While the Ford defect has not been blamed for any fatalities, the automaker does say that at least one accident producing three serious injuries was reported to the company.
GM Airbag and Seatbelt Glitch Blamed on Faulty Software
The GM airbag problem should not be lost in the continued coverage of the Takata airbag inflator issue because this is a distinct problem. Unlike the inflator problem which is caused by ammonium nitrate’s long-term exposure to high-humidity environments, this problem has been attributed to a programming error in the vehicle’s software. According to a September 9, 2016, statement from GM, one of the sensing diagnostic modules in affected vehicles has a firmware problem that will prevent front air bags from deploying in the “rare circumstances when a crash is preceded by a specific event impacting vehicle dynamics.”
If this statement of the problem was not quite non-specific enough, NHTSA’s summary of the problem in its confirmation letter sheds only slightly more light on what can go wrong. NHTSA summarizes the problem as “certain driving conditions may cause the airbag sensing and diagnostic module (SDM) software to activate a diagnostic test. During this test, deployment of the frontal airbags and the seat belt pre-tensioners would not occur in the event of a crash.” Essentially, some types of driving may trigger a vehicle diagnostic mode that deactivates important safety features. There is no word on exactly what conditions will cause the diagnostic mode to activate and the only remedy offered by the company is a vehicle software update or module replacement. Affected vehicles include:
- Buick Encore 2014-2017
- Buick Lacrosse 2014-2016
- Cadillac Escalade 2015-2017
- Cadillac Escalade Esv 2015-2017
- Chevrolet Caprice Police Pursuit 2014-2017
- Chevrolet Corvette 2014-2017
- Chevrolet Silverado 1500 2014-2017
- Chevrolet Silverado 2500 2015-2017
- Chevrolet Silverado 3500 2015-2017
- Chevrolet Spark EV 2014-2016
- Chevrolet SS 2014-2016
- Chevrolet Suburban 2015-2017
- Chevrolet Tahoe 2015-2017
- Chevrolet Trax 2014-2017
- GMC Sierra 1500 2014-2017
- GMC Sierra 2500 2015-2017
- GMC Sierra 3500/2015-2017
- GMC Yukon 2015-2017
- GMC Yukon XL 2015-2017
More than 3.5 million vehicles are affected by the recall. Drivers of these vehicles are urged to seek repair as soon as practicable. This defect has already resulted in one death and three injuries.
Ford Door Latch Recall to Expand
In major recall announcement on September 6, 2016, Ford indicated that it would further expand its door latch recall. The door latch recall has plagued certain Ford vehicles since 2014. The most recent recall expansion adds more than an additional 1.5 million vehicles to the recall. Due to customer complaints to NHTSA, at least 3 million vehicles has been covered under previous door latch recalls.
According to NHTSA’s September 7, 2016, recall acknowledgment letter, the defect is caused by, “A component within the door latches [that] may break, preventing the doors from latching and/or leading the driver or a passenger to believe a door is securely closed when, in fact, it is not.” Essentially this defect could result in a scenario where a door opens when the vehicle is being driven. Aside from the shock of a door opening unexpectedly, this defect increases the risk of an accident and risk of vehicle control. Furthermore, if the driver or passenger is not properly buckled in, he or she could fall from the vehicle.
Vehicles affected by this expanded recall include:
- Ford C-Max 2013-2015
- Ford Escape 2013-2015
- Ford Focus 2012-2015
- Ford Mustang 2015
- Ford Transit Connect 2014-2016
- Lincoln MKC 2015
Ford is offering to replace the defective latches, but parts shortages may mean that customers will have to choose between driving a recalled vehicle and letting it idle in the driveway. Ford is not excepted to begin notifying customers about the risk until the beginning of October.
Injured by a Serious Vehicle Defect? Contact a Philadelphia Personal Injury Lawyer of The Reiff Law Firm
If you have suffered a life-changing injury due to a defectively designed or manufactured car, truck, or another vehicle the Philadelphia car accident lawyers of The Reiff Law Firm may be able to fight for you. For more than three decades, the Philadelphia personal injury attorneys of The Reiff Law Firm have fought strategically and aggressively for injury victims. To schedule a free and confidential consultation, call our Philadelphia-based law firm at (215) 246-9000 or online today.