Takata airbag problem returns: This time, it's 2015 GM vehicles

The latest Takata recall hits the 2015 Chevrolet Equinox, Malibu and Camaro vehicles as well as the Buick LaCrosse, Cadillac XTS and GMC Terrain.

(AP Photo/Carlos Osorio, File)
The North American headquarters of automotive parts supplier Takata in Auburn Hills, Mich. Seven more companies including electric car maker Tesla Motors could be facing recalls because they use air bag inflators made by Takata Corp.

The deadly problem with exploding Takata airbag inflators continues to spread to newer vehicles, this time hitting a small number of 2015 General Motors cars and SUVs.

GM is recalling more than 400 vehicles because the side airbag inflators could rupture and send shrapnel into drivers and passengers, according to the company and documents posted Saturday by the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The GM recall is the latest in a problem that continues to widen with no end in sight. U.S. regulators have warned that more manufacturers and newer models are likely to become involved. Eight people have been killed worldwide because of the faulty inflators and more than 100 have been hurt.

In May, Takata and NHTSA reached an agreement for the airbag maker to declare 33.8 million airbag inflators defective. Not only did the announcement doubled the number of vehicles with potentially-dangerous inflators, but it also made the recall the biggest one for any consumer product in the US.

So far, about 23.4 million Takata driver and passenger air bag inflators have been recalled on 19.2 million U.S. vehicles sold by 11 different companies, including Honda and Fiat Chrysler.

The inflators use ammonium nitrate to create a small explosion that inflates the air bags in a crash. But Takata has said the chemical can degrade inside inflators that are exposed to high temperatures and airborne humidity for prolonged periods. That can cause the chemical to burn too fast, blowing apart a metal canister designed to contain the explosion.

The latest recall covers certain 2015 Chevrolet Equinox, Malibu and Camaro vehicles as well as the Buick LaCrosse, Cadillac XTS and GMC Terrain. GM told NHTSA that on Oct. 5, one side airbag inflator exploded with too much force in testing at a Takata plant in Mexico. Takata notified GM on Oct. 6, and GM traced the inflators to 414 vehicles in North America. The company decided on the recall on Oct. 9, according to the documents.

"No other lots of air bag inflators are suspect," GM spokesman Alan Adler said in an e-mail.

Dealers are contacting the vehicle owners and GM already is shipping replacement inflators that weren't part of the faulty lot. The company will make loaner cars available to owners, who should get to a dealer as soon as possible to get the cars repaired, Adler said. Dealers also will arrange to pick up the vehicles and take them in for repairs, Adler said. No crashes or injuries have been reported with the recalled vehicles, he said.

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