Feds Investigate General Motors Seatbelt Pretensioner
A GM seatbelt pretensioner recall is under an upgraded investigation by the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) after vehicle owners continued to complain about flexible steel cables that separated. According to a report in Carcomplaints.com, about 2.8 million model year 2009-2016 General Motors vehicles are included in this expanded investigation even though the 2014 seat belt pretensioner recall included only 1.4 million of these model year 2009-2014 vehicles.
Details of the NHTSA Investigation
The seatbelt pretensioner recall was issued to repair problems with fatigue and separations of the flexible steel cables that connect the front outboard seatbelts to the seat-mounted belt pretensioners. The initial GM investigation was opened to look into warranty and complaint data related to seatbelt anchor cable separations and replacements in vehicles that were recalled in 2014.
Safety regulators confirm that the failure rate is very low for vehicles covered by the 2014 recall, but that consumers might not recognize the cable fatigue damage from the visual cues that come with routine vehicle use. Although the cable separation rate is very low, GM owners have still complained about problems in the vehicles that were not included in the 2014 recall. Also, complaints have been received about several more GM models that were covered by multiple similar recalls.
NHTSA says it has upgraded the GM investigation to more closely evaluate the seatbelt conditions. Their work will involve collecting seatbelt samples from a wider range of recalled and peer vehicles for more detailed analysis and testing.
Dangers of Seatbelt Defects
When a seat restraint system doesn’t work as intended, it could result in major injuries or even fatalities. If you are involved in a car crash where you or a loved one was injured because of seatbelt failure, it is important that you contact an auto defect law firm that has significant experience handling such cases and conducting independent investigations into auto defect issues. It is important to remember that police agencies often may not have the knowledge or the resources to conduct investigations relating to defective auto parts.
So, they may in haste determine that someone was not wearing a seatbelt when in fact the seat restraint system may have failed and ejected the victim from the vehicle. In such cases, the body of the ejected person must be examined for evidence of seatbelt bruising and marking. The webbing needs to be microscopically examined for grabber marks, bloodstains and other signs that would indicate that the seatbelt was in use at the time of the crash. An experienced auto defect lawyer will be able to advise victims and their families regarding the best course of action in such cases.