Airbag bug forces GM to recall 4.3m vehicles – but eh, how about those self-driving cars, huh?

Software update is 'voluntary' so long as you're OK with death

A Corvette

General Motors (GM) says a software bug has left as many as 4.3 million of its cars and trucks with potentially defective airbags.

The US auto giant said that problems with the embedded software in the vehicles can cause the front airbags to fail to deploy in a crash. The bug resides in the software used to control the sensors that would tell the airbags when to deploy.

The full list of recalled cars and trucks includes the Chevrolet, GMC, and Cadillac brands:

  • 2014-2016 model years Buick LaCross; Chevrolet SS and Spark EV.
  • 2014-2017 model years Chevrolet Corvette, Trax, Caprice PPV and Silverado 1500; Buick Encore; GMC Sierra 1500.
  • 2015-2017 model years Chevrolet Tahoe, Suburban and Silverado HD; GMC Yukon, Yukon XL and Sierra HD; Cadillac Escalade and Escalade ESV.

"The sensing and diagnostic module [SDM] in these vehicles, which controls airbag and pretensioners deployment, contains a software defect that may prevent the deployment of frontal airbags and pretensioners in certain rare circumstances when a crash is preceded by a specific event impacting vehicle dynamics," GM says.

The US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says that rather than deploy the airbag, the software will instead default to a test state.

"In the affected vehicles, certain driving conditions may cause the airbag SDM software to activate a diagnostic test," the NHTSA says. "During this test, deployment of the frontal airbags and the seat belt pretensioners would not occur in the event of a crash."

The issue has reportedly already been implicated in one fatal crash and three others involving serious injuries.

GM says that users can check online to see if their car or truck is among the 2014-2017 models requiring a fix. The recall is voluntary and the fix will be offered free of charge.

Fingers crossed there are no programming cockups like this one when fabled self-driving cars arrive, eh? ®


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