General Motors has issued a recall for select Chevrolet Impala vehicles from the 2014 and 2015 model years. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administrations, some of those vehicles may have a problem with their occupant detection systems that could increase the risk of injury to some passengers.
The problem is rooted in the Impala's Automatic Occupant Sensing system, which turns the front passenger airbag on and off when it detects (or fails to detect) an adult occupant in that seat. NHTSA says that the AOS systems in some Impalas may be improperly calibrated, preventing them from switching off the airbag when there's an infant seat in the front passenger position. Should that happen, and should the airbag go off, it could cause serious, potentially fatal injury to the child.
The good news is that most drivers (we hope) understand that infant and child seats should never be placed in the front seat. That goes double for large vehicles like the Impala, which has plenty of room in the rear for safety seats.
More good news: attentive drivers will be notified of the problem beforehand, because the Impala's airbag status light will indicate that the front passenger airbag is still "on" when there's a child seat in the front.
The recall is limited to 2014 and 2015 Impala sedans built between April 15, 2013 and June 19, 2015. Furthermore, the recall only affects vehicles that came equipped with front vented-heated passenger seats. That's because, according to NHTSA documents, "The seat-assembly plant’s calibration process for the front vented-heated seats did not effectively account for humidity and build-material variation, which caused a calibration-learning error in certain vented-heated seats."
After receiving a recall notice in the mail, owners will be able to take their Impalas to a Chevrolet dealer, who will recalibrate the AOS settings for the front passenger seat at no charge.
If you have questions, you're encouraged to call Chevrolet customer service at 800-222-1020 and ask about recall #15400. If you prefer, you can also call NHTSA at 888-327-4236 and ask about safety campaign 15V465000.