By James Raia
The faulty Takata airbag catastrophe keeps getting worse. General Motors announced it will recall about seven million pickup trucks and SUVs worldwide to replace the potentially dangerous bag inflators made by the bankrupt Japanese company.
About six million of the vehicles scheduled for recall are located in the United States.
The recalled vehicles include: full-size pickup trucks and SUVs from the 2007 through 2014 model years, including the Chevrolet Silverado 1500, 2500 and 3500 pickups.
The Silverado is GM’s top-selling vehicle and the second-best-selling vehicle in the U.S. Also covered in the recall are the Chevrolet Suburban, Tahoe and Avalanche, Cadillac Escalade, GMC Sierra 1500, 2500 and 3500, and the GMC Yukon.
It took the agency more than four years to arrive at its decision.
The automaker petitioned the agency four times since 2016 to avoid recalls, contending the airbag inflator canisters have been safe on the road and in testing.
But the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) denied the petitions, saying the inflators can still explode.
The manufacturer reported it will not contest the decision, with the cost of the recall an estimated $1.2 billion. The total is about one-third of GM’s net income to date this year.
Owners complained to the NHTSA that the company was placing profits over safety.
Exploding Takata inflators caused the largest series of auto recalls in U.S. history, with at least 63 million inflators recalled. The U.S. government reports more than 11.1 million had not been fixed since September statistics were released. About 100 million inflators have been recalled worldwide.
Takata used volatile ammonium nitrate to create a small explosion to fill air bags in a crash. But the chemical can deteriorate when exposed to heat and humidity, and they can explode with too much pressure, blowing apart a metal canister and spewing shrapnel.
The NHTSA said the recall means all Takata ammonium nitrate inflators in the U.S. will be recalled.
Earlier this year the agency decided against a recall of inflators with a moisture-absorbing chemical called a desiccant. NHTSA said it would monitor those inflators and take action if problems arise.
Drivers can check if their vehicles have been recalled via the website link: https://www.nhtsa.gov/recalls and keying in their 17-digit vehicle identification number.