Federal highway safety officials have reopened an investigation into a five-year old General Motors recall, which may have resulted in repairs that left more than a million vehicles at risk of experiencing seatbelt problems in the event of a crash.
The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) launched an investigation into the effectiveness of a 2014 General Motors (GM) seat belt recall repair, after several consumers reported the seat belt pretensioners are continuing to break and fail, despite following the remedy provided by automaker years ago.
In May 2014, the NHTSA recalled 1,339,355 General Motors vehicles, including Buick Enclave, Chevrolet Traverse, and GMC Acadia crossovers from model years 2009-2014, as well as Saturn Outlooks from 2009 and 2010, after recognizing the potential for the vehicles front safety lap belt cables to prematurely fatigue and separate over time.
At the time, NHTSA officials warned the flexible steel cable that connects the seat belt to the front outboard seating positions could weaken much sooner than anticipated and fail to properly restrain the seat occupant. This could increase the risk of injury to front seat passengers if an accident occurs.
Along with the 2014 recall announcement, General Motors also temporarily halted sales of new and used vehicles affected by this recall until the recall investigation was complete and a remedy could be provided.
As part of the seatbelt recall repair, the manufacturer called for dealers to inspect and replace the lap pretensioners as necessary, free of charge.
Despite the repairs, complaints continue to be reported to NHTSA officials of seat belt cables breaking. This has raised questions about the quality of the repairs performed during the 2014 recall.
NHTSA announced this week they would be reopening the investigation into the repair remedy provided by General Motors. The investigation was initiated following at least four consumer reports indicating their recalled vehicles were fixed by dealers under the recall campaign, and are still experiencing belt separation issues.
In one case, an Ohio resident reported to the NHTSA that the seat belt cable on his 2010 Traverse snapped as a passenger was fastening it. The vehicle was recalled under the 2014 campaign and allegedly fixed by a local dealer. The consumer told NHTSA officials he had contacted the manufacturer about the issue and was told the breakage was normal wear and tear.
NHTSA officials announced the agency will assess the effectiveness of the recall and evaluate the durability of the cables used in the replacement process. New information collected during the investigation will be released to the public as it becomes available.