In a handful of cases, the automaker has found that improper threading of the belt can lead to a point of weakness that, in an accident, could cause the belt to disconnect from the car frame.
The seat belt itself is fine, but the “lap belt anchor pretensioner” – the metal ring that connects the seat belt to the car frame, located just behind the front door – wasn't threaded correctly in all Chevrolet Impalas. "There's no parts issues here at all," says Allen Adler, a GM spokesman.
The solution is simple: GM technicians have to rethread the belts.
“We know of no injuries or deaths related to this condition.” says Mr. Adler. Some 31 cases of incorrect threading have been reported to the company, all through warranty claims.
Owners of a 2009 or 2010 Impala should go to a dealer, who will inspect the threading of both the driver’s side and passenger’s side anchors. "As recalls go, this is one of the simpler ones to handle," Adler says.
There is no charge for the inspection or the fix.
GM will send notification letters to the owners of 322,409 Impala owners on or before Oct. 26, but there's no need to wait. "If they're concerned, drivers can certainly come in now," says Adler. Owners who don't come in will get reminder postcards every three months for the next year and a half.
Owners can contact Chevrolet at 800-630-2438 or online at www.GMownercenter.com.
Why does GM require their car owners to jump through all these hoops? Adler didn't address the problem directly, insisting that owners could avoid the hassle by waiting for GM's letter.
GM's website may require more substantive repair than the Impala's seat belts.