Nearly a year ago, General Motors recalled the 2014-2015 Chevrolet Impala for a problem affecting the car's passenger detection system, which activates and disables the passenger-side airbags, depending on whether an adult is riding shotgun. Now, Impala models from 2009 and 2010 may be experiencing similar problems with their passenger detection systems that could increase the risk of injury to all occupants--not just passengers--during a crash.
GM is recalling more than 289,000 of those vehicles to address the issue, which stems from a wiring flaw. Specifically, GM says that the wires of its passenger presence sensor module may come in contact with the front passenger seat frame, and over time, the repeated contact could damage the wiring.
In some cases, that damage might prevent the system from recognizing when the passenger seat is occupied, meaning that the airbag would be disabled. Depending on the nature and extent of the damage, the problem could short out the airbag fuse, which would disable all airbags and seatbelt pretensioners in the vehicle, not just those on the passenger-side. That could dramatically boost the risk of injury to both drivers and passengers in the event of a collision.
The recall is limited to 2009-2010 Chevrolet Impala vehicles built between April 25, 2008 and February 16, 2010. GM estimates that 289,254 vehicles registered in the U.S. are affected
GM will mail recall notices to owners, asking them to take their vehicles to dealerships for service. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, "dealers will double wrap the wires with anti-abrasion tape and replace damaged wires as necessary, free of charge".
If you believe that you own one of these vehicles and have further questions, you're encouraged to contact Chevrolet customer service at 1-800-521-7300 and ask about recall #36110. If you prefer, you can also call NHTSA's Vehicle Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236 and ask about safety campaign #16V507000.