This week General motors announced it was recalling 3,000 of its 2012 Buick Verano, Chevrolet Cruze and Chevrolet Sonic model vehicles due to a problem with the air bag.
GM made the announcement after announcing they had already been in discussions with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration about the problem. The problem causes air bags to NOT fully inflate in the event of a crash. No incidents or injuries have been reported as a result of the fault air bag.
GM said the problem stemmed from a faulty machine used in the manufacture of the vehicles themselves. GM said it had identified the problem machine and corrected the issue in the factory but was concerned that some vehicles may have been released before the repairs to the machine were made. Hence the recall.
GM announced it was recalling more than 12,5000 of the 2013 Cadillac XTS because of a problem with the rear head restraint. In that case the restraint would not lock in the upright position, causing passengers to lack the proper head security in the event of a vehicle collision.
GM has had a series of recalls lately, all without a single injury as a result of faulty equipment. So far, they’ve been lucky. The NHTSA allows manufacturers five days from the date they identify a problem to issue a recall. If the company fails to meet that deadline they run the risk of being handed a hefty fine. This prompts the manufacturers to move quickly when a problem is identified, but it does nothing to help manufacturers identify the problems in the first place.
For the most part automobile manufacturers must rely on customer complaints or reports from the mechanics who service these vehicles for detection of a problem. Otherwise they won’t know there is a problem until something fails to work as it is supposed to. In the case of faulty air bags this could result in an injury or even, worse case scenario, a fatality. And that could cost the company even more in the long run.