General Motors has announced a recall of select 2011-2013 Chevrolet Caprice and 2008-2009 Pontiac G8 vehicles. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, some of those cars may suffer from a problem with their front seat belts that could prevent the devices from working properly during a collision.
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The problem stems from components manufactured by German supplier ZF. In a report posted by NHTSA's Office of Defects Investigation, the agency notes that those components can be unknowingly damaged by passengers during normal use of a vehicle. NHTSA explains:
"In certain seating positions, the safety belt’s flexible steel cable (or “tensioner cable”) can be located in a forward position allowing the occupant to sit on top of it while entering the vehicle. This action can bend the steel cable over the seat side shield, which over time may cause the cable to fatigue and separate."
The tensioner cable is what helps hold passengers in place during accidents. If it should break, it won't be able to do its job, increasing the risk of injury to those in the driver's and passenger's seats during accidents.
The recall is limited to vehicles manufactured during specific windows of time:
- 2011-2013 Chevrolet Caprice vehicles built between October 15, 2010 and October 22, 2013
- 2008-2009 Pontiac G8 vehicles built between July 25, 2007 and February 18, 2009
All told, the recall affects 47,042 cars registered in the U.S.
After owners receive recall notices from GM, they'll be able to take their vehicles to an appropriate dealership, where the seat belt tensioner assembly will be replaced at no charge. NHTSA notes that the repair will also use a more flexible cable and reposition it to minimize wear.
If you own one of the vehicles above and have questions, you're encouraged to call Chevrolet customer service at 800-222-1020 or Pontiac customer service at 800-762-2737 and ask about recall #15206. If you prefer, you can also call NHTSA at 888-327-4236 and ask about safety campaign #15V399000.