General Motors has issued a recall for 2013 and 2014 models of the Chevrolet Cruze. According to a bulletin from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the recall stems from a faulty driver-side airbag.
Sound familiar? It should. Over the past year, automakers around the world have recalled more than ten million vehicles due to malfunctioning airbags made by Takata. The airbags' problem is rooted in the propellant Takata used, which has caused some bags to rupture upon deployment, spraying vehicle occupants with shrapnel. Two incidents have been reported in Japan and six in America, with two deaths linked to the flaw.
But those airbags were made at the turn of the 21st century, and the associated recalls have tended to affect vehicles from the 2002-2007 model years. Surely, the Cruze recall is unrelated, right?
Yes and no. The airbags in the 2013-2014 Cruze also came from Takata. Though they may not have been manufactured at the same time as the others, the effect is essentially the same. According to a letter that GM sent to Nancy Lewis at NHTSA:
"Some of these vehicles may have a condition in which the front driver airbag inflator was built with an incorrect part that could cause the inflator to rupture during a deployment. In a crash, this may cause airbag components to separate and be propelled into the interior compartment, possibly striking occupants. Also, the airbag may not inflate. These effects could increase the risk of injury to the occupants."
Auto News reports that GM knows of at least one case of an airbag exploding on a late-model Cruze, and the owner of that vehicle has filed a lawsuit against the automaker. The incident caused GM to conduct a thorough investigation of the matter, and on Wednesday, the company ordered dealers to stop selling the Cruze. The stop-sale was lifted yesterday, as GM prepared to announce the Cruze recall.
NHTSA says that 29,019 vehicles are affected by the recall. GM hasn't yet indicated when it will notify owners of the problem, but once it does, Cruze owners will be able to take their vehicles to Chevrolet dealers, who will replace the driver-side airbag, free of charge.
If you have questions in the meantime, you're encouraged to contact Chevrolet customer service at 800-222-1020 and ask about recall #14305. Alternately, you can contact NHTSA at 888-327-4236 and ask about campaign #14V372000.