GM Seatbelt Recall

Posted By The Carlson Law Firm || 25-Sep-2012

While Japanese automaker Toyota has been at the center of a recall saga for more than a year, other auto giants have not escaped controversy. Joining the list of recall alums is General Motors (GM). In late October 2010, the parent company for such trusted brands as Buick, Chevy and Cadillac announced the recall of more than 300,000 of their 2009-2010 Chevrolet Impala sedans. The rationale behind the recall was faulty seat belts.

According to the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA), GM sought the recall because these select Impala models were not in compliance with Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard requirements regarding self-belt assembly anchorages. According to the NHTSA summary, the front safety belt webbing might not be adequately secured to the lap belt. This could cause problems in the event of a crash. The real issue, however, is the delay in notifying the NHTSA and the public.

When GM reported its safety belt issue this fall, the automaker indicated that the first indications of a problem occurred in the summer of 2009. Nine warranty repairs had occurred on the seat belt assembly at that time. Following some additional warranty claims, GM investigated the issue and subsequently sought the voluntary recall.

NHTSA and Vehicle Recalls

Born out of the Highway Safety Act, the NHTSA has addressed vehicle safety standards for almost 50 years. The agency has recalled hundreds of millions of cars for a variety of reasons.

The recall process begins with either a voluntary report or a NHTSA investigation. In cases in which manufacturers discover safety defects or risks, Federal regulations mandate notifying the NHTSA within five business days. A recall must also be initiated. In the absence of compliance, automakers face civil penalties.

Alternatively, in the event of a series of consumer complaints and a noted trend, the NHTSA can undertake an investigation. A recall might follow.

Once a manufacturing defect has been determined, auto manufacturers are required to remedy the problem, free of charge, to vehicle owners. Car makers and manufactures can also be held liable for injuries or damages caused by faulty design or construction through product liability claims.

The NHTSA monitors corrective action plans so that the recall campaigns can be closed when appropriate. The ultimate goal is to ensure that manufacturers produce roadworthy vehicles. While some owners might be suffering from a bit of recall fatigue, the fact that fewer lives are being lost on our nation’s roadways reflects the importance of the NHTSA’s work.


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