Airbag Beef: Transport Canada recalls GM 42,140 models in Canada for airbag defect, NHTSA takes aim at supplier

Toronto, Ontario — Bearing an unfortunate resemblance to the ever-lingering Takata airbag inflator recall, the U.S.’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is calling on ARC Automotive to recall its 67 million airbag inflators currently in active use.

This news comes as General Motors elected to recall 1,036,903 vehicles from U.S. and Canadian roads, with 42,140 of the affected models found on our side of the border.

Transport Canada, in its recall notice first posted last Wednesday, described the fault in ARC’s inflators similarly to other cases involving the safety component, writing that “the driver-front airbag inflator could rupture when the airbag deploys in a crash.

“If this happens, the airbag may not properly inflate and fragments could be propelled toward vehicle occupants.”

As it stands, the defect has been identified in models built between 2014 and 2017 and across GM’s extensive brand lineup, including the Buick Enclave, Chevrolet Traverse and GMC Acadia.

According to reporting from Repairer Driven News, ARC is currently facing a federal class action lawsuit for its use of phase-stabilized ammonium nitrate (PSAN) in its inflators, which has been the subject of scrutiny over its tendency to create violent explosions and has led to numerous driver deaths.

In fact, the Associated Press reports that at least two people have been killed in the U.S. and Canada, and seven others have been injured by the defective ARC inflators.

“GM is aware of two prior ruptures (allegations received: September 2, 2021 and February 18, 2022) of ARC-manufactured airbag inflators in 2015 model year Chevrolet Traverse vehicles, and GM conducted NHTSA Recalls 21V782 and 22V246 on the inflator production lots involved in these incidents,” reads part of the NHTSA’s recall report.

“All three rupture events in Chevrolet Traverse vehicles involved the same inflator variant (MC).”

Email correspondence released by the NHTSA shows that the investigation into ARC has been ongoing for the past eight years.

Steve Gold, ARC’s v-p of product integrity, offered a lengthy response to the NHTSA the day following its request to recall the company’s inflators.

“We disagree with NHTSA’s new sweeping request when extensive field testing has found no inherent defect,” he said.

Further to that, Gold claims that the NHTSA’s decision is not based on any sound engineering or technical conclusions, “but rather conclusory statements regarding hypothesized blockage of the inflator orifice from ‘weld slag’ and a subjective inference that a defect exists based upon the occurrence of seven field ruptures in the U.S.

“There is no legal basis for NHTSA’s ‘demand’ that ARC conduct a safety recall. NHTSA’s authority to require manufacturers to conduct safety recalls does not extend to manufacturers that supply original equipment for installation in new motor vehicles.”


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