Slowly but surely, General Motors is learning quite a few lessons from its recent ignition-switch recall fiasco. A recent timeline submitted by the company to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration showed that it took six years to issue a recent recall on several crossovers.

In March, GM recalled 1.18 million CUVs because the side impact airbag system could fail, including some 2008-2013 Buick Enclave and GMC Acadia models, as well as 2009-2013 Chevrolet Traverse (pictured above) and 2008-2010 Saturn Outlook models. The announcement was timed with GM CEO Mary Barra's video apology about the ignition switch recall.

The NHTSA document suggests that GM initially hoped to avoid a recall on the CUVs. On March 13, the company first wanted to cover the vehicles under a customer satisfaction campaign. These aren't monitored by the government, according to Automotive News. The next day, it updated the repair to a full recall after a call with the government regulator.

The recall wasn't the first indication of the airbag problem either. According to GM's timeline, in June 2008, it noticed "a significant increase in warranty claims for an illuminated airbag service light." An investigation showed the side airbag wires' connectors could wear and corrode, which would increase resistance in the wires. The additional resistance would first illuminate the "Service Air Bag" warning light, but at a high enough level, the airbags may no longer deploy. The automaker issued the first service bulletin about the possibility of failing side impact airbags on the CUVs in November 2008. More airbag-related bulletins were issued for subsequent model years of the crossovers.

According to Automotive News, there were no reported crashes or injuries related to the faulty side impact airbags in the affected models, and GM believed the service bulletins covered the problem. However, the company appeared reluctant to issue a recall for a problem that it knew about for years. With the automaker's vehicle safety under such scrutiny, it's a poor message to send. The entire nine-page NHTSA timeline is publicly available and can be downloaded as a PDF, here.


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  • 17 Comments
      Car Guy
      • 7 Months Ago
      Automakers are required to send documents on customer satisfaction campaigns to the government every month by the TREAD Act. This was required shortly after the Ford-Firestone scandal. So to say they are not monitored by the government is false.
      tiger
      • 7 Months Ago
      Chris, GM is not the only company that prefers campaigns over recalls and pushes for such. Why do you only call out GM? Toyota is a HUGE example of this. Again, get with the fair journalism.
      Bexly
      • 7 Months Ago
      I hate the reactionary "never buyin from them again!" crap, but this is just an extra nail in a coffin that was sealed by the ignition fault. I'm not even going to consider a GM vehicle for at least 10 or 20 years, I just can't see a way I'd feel safe in one after these stories.
        Larry Litmanen
        • 7 Months Ago
        @Bexly
        Bex, there's a generation of people out there who have been doing this. The thought of buying a GM car has never entered my mind.
      Larry Litmanen
      • 7 Months Ago
      Am i the only one to notice that these GM recall topics are very heavily policed. Comments get deleted left and right. I recall a major Barra story having like 12 comments out of 80+ posted originally.
        Jerry
        • 7 Months Ago
        @Larry Litmanen
        I know several of my comments have been deleted lol
        Arizonarelax
        • 7 Months Ago
        @Larry Litmanen
        Yea they are deleting comments all the time. AB is very scared - this is a very sad time we live in where you have to be told what you feel and can say, because "they" know better. Pretty soon we will be issued talking points.
      Arizonarelax
      • 7 Months Ago
      So if there is a take away from this GM nightmare, we as consumers are no longer buying a car with expectations the manufacturer will hold up to their part of the bargain. If you purchase a car, truck, etc., you are buying a car company. Will they be truthful, stand behind their products? Support you when their products fail? And of course keep repair costs reasonable? It is no longer as simple as "feeling" the emotion of wanting a car. Buyer beware, check the history of the company and spend your hard earned dollars wisely! On the flip side, maybe it is time we as consumers walk in with our own contracts holding the dealer and manufacturer accountable?
      Neez
      • 7 Months Ago
      "Customer Satisfaction Campaign"???? How are you supposed to know they don't work until they DON"T go off??
      mikemaj82
      • 7 Months Ago
      I just want to know when GM is going to recall the C6 Corvette for the airbag problem it had.
      Clipper44
      • 7 Months Ago
      GM drags their feet when they -know- their products have flaws which may kill you... allowing more people to become potentially hurt or even killed in the process. If that's not the mark of a company whose products people should avoid, I don't know what is. There is not one product this deathtrap-of-a-company makes that is exclusive to them alone.. there are comparable class-equivalents with every one of their cars.
      Bexly
      • 7 Months Ago
      I hate the reactionary "never buyin from them again!" crap, but this is just an extra nail in a coffin that was sealed by the ignition fault. I'm not even going to consider a GM vehicle for at least 10 or 20 years, I just can't see a way I'd feel safe in one after these stories.
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