Why GM just recalled nearly half a million SUVs
On August 11, 2022, General Motors (GM) announced a recall affecting nearly half a million newer SUVs. The “Third Row Seat Belt Buckle Retention” recall not only raises serious immediate safety implications, but also raises longer-term questions about how we view the future of safety features. automotive safety.
What caused GM’s recall?
It’s all about the rivets.
Imagine that you fasten your seat belt. You grab the part with the metal locking plate and plug it into the loop. You hear a reassuring click and assume you are safe. But what if those buckles weren’t properly secured?
This recall involves the rivets that secure the third row seat belt buckles to the mounting brackets underneath. These rivets may not have been properly manufactured or installed. If these rivets do not function as intended, third row seat passengers may not be properly restrained in the event of a collision.
How do rivets work?
Rivets are old technology; The Egyptians used them 5,000 years ago to affix handles to clay pots. From the Eiffel Tower to tanks, rivets are everywhere. You might even be wearing some right now if you’re wearing jeans. Although there are different types of rivets, the basic idea is that they have a “head” and a “tail” and act similarly to a nut and bolt in that they join two things together.
Crushing the rivet from each end (a process known as upsetting) expands its tail into a head and, unlike the more temporary union of a nut and bolt, permanently marries whatever is between the two. The result is a bond that can withstand both tensile and shear loads. If it goes well…
Why did this recall take place?
It’s not entirely clear. consumer reports states that “Third row seat belts may have been installed incorrectly at the factory.” GM, however, in its Technical Service Bulletin (TSB), a document containing repair advice for dealership technicians, explains that “The left or right third row seat belt buckle assembly may not have been properly formed during the manufacturing process”.
While we haven’t seen anyone else connect the dots yet, there may be a connection between this incident and last year’s recall #N202313000 “Third Row Seat Belt Damage.” This recall involved the same models and also involved third row seat belt assemblies.
While this may be a coincidence, it reminds us that even though blind-spot monitors and lane-keeping technologies are becoming commonplace, sometimes it’s the simplest things that can go wrong at the factory level.
What the recall means to you
Even with over-the-air updates, some hardware issues will require us to return our vehicles to the dealership for the foreseeable future. The current TSB gives the impression that the parts are not yet widely available: “the bulletin will be updated when the remedy and the required parts are available.”
He also advises dealers to tell owners of affected units not to allow anyone to use the third-row seats until repairs are made. Since it’s usually children who sit in the third-row seats, it’s even more horrifying to think of one of those seatbelt assemblies failing to restrain an occupant. Which leads to…
How to Determine if You’re Driving a Recalled SUV
Certain 2021-2022 Cadillac Escalade and Escalade ESV, 2021-2022 Chevrolet Suburban and Tahoe, and 2021-2022 GMC Yukon and Yukon XL are affected by GM recall #N222372380. Note GM parlance: only “certain” vehicles.
To find out if yours is one, start by finding your Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). Then enter your VIN in the National Highway Safety Administration recall website. If your vehicle is part of the recall, schedule an appointment with a GM dealer where: “Dealers will inspect the rivet head formation on the left and right third row seat belt buckle assemblies and replace the assemblies seat belt buckle if necessary.
Moving forward beyond the reminder
Although this seems like an easy fix, the fact that the parts are currently unavailable is disconcerting. They are rivets after all, not computer chips. Considering the six-figure price tag of these SUVs, it seems odd that there weren’t quality assurance checks in place to prevent this.
Ultimately, this reminder serves as a reminder to keep your contact details up to date with manufacturers and check for news frequently. Be sure to ask the dealership for a loaner vehicle or other accommodations to reduce your inconvenience.
Whether it’s the latest technological innovations or age-old technology, you’re wrong. Education is one of the strongest automotive safety technologies available.