General Motors has announced plans to recall some 91,007 Pontiac Solstice and Saturn Sky Roadsters built for the 2006-2010 model years. Documents from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reveal that one the airbags in those vehicles may be disabled, increasing the risk of injury to occupants during crashes.
The problem affects the front passenger-side airbag and is linked to the passenger airbag suppression (PPS) system, which was manufactured by IEE Sensing Inc. That system determines whether an adult is sitting in the passenger's seat and turns on or off the airbags accordingly.
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Unfortunately, one of that system's key sensors can become damaged over time. NHTSA's defect notice explains:
"The PPS uses a flexible sensor mat inside the passenger seat. Occupant pressure on the seat in the same location can, over time, bend and damage the sensor’s printed conductor. In severe cases, this damage can cause an open circuit in the sensor. While the sensor circuit is open, the PPS module will indicate to the vehicle’s sensing and diagnostic module (SDM) that a fault exists in the PPS system, and the SDM will—by default—suppress the front passenger airbag during a crash."
If that were to happen, it would dramatically boost the risk of injury to a front-seat passenger during a collision. The issue affects the 2006-2010 Pontiac Solstice and the 2007-2010 Saturn Sky.
NHTSA reports that GM hasn't yet identified a fix for the problem. When it does, and when that fix is approved by NHTSA, GM will mail recall notices to owners.
In the meantime, owners of these vehicles can contact Pontiac customer service at 1-800-762-2737 or Saturn customer service at 1-800-553-6000 for additional information--just be sure to reference recall #17036. Owners can also call NHTSA's Vehicle Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236 and inquire about safety campaign #17V061000.