uncontrolled exploding airbags

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Thread: uncontrolled exploding airbags

  1. #1
    Walking
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    Thumbs down uncontrolled exploding airbags

    I’m driving a GMC Sierra 2009.

    A few months ago I had the problem that the side airbags exploded without any impact to the car while driving (approx 30-40km/h).
    The side airbags exploded and the seat belt retractors blocked.
    Nothing happened to the front airbags.
    The car was not hit and did not hit anything. A colleague sitting on the passenger seat was hurt.

    The damage was repaired under warranty (at the GMC dealer I bought the car from).

    Unfortunately it looks like they just replaced the damaged parts without investigating the reason for the uncontrolled explosion of the airbags.
    A few weeks later the side airbags exploded again! (approx 40 km/h, the car was not hit and did not hit anything)
    This time I had my two kids sitting on the second seat row and fortunately they were sitting with their heads towards the center of the car because they were watching a movie on the portable DVD player placed on the center armrest/console.
    I don’t want to imagine what would have happened if they were sleeping laid towards the doors as usual. (side airbags are neck breakers for sleeping kids!)

    I went again to the same GMC dealer.
    The dealer ‘investigated’ the problem and found out that the side airbags are deployed and the airbag control light is on. (wow, that’s really ‘rocket science’ to find out!)
    The dealer told me that it’s my problem and no warranty case and if I don’t like his statement I’ve to complain at GMC. (what I’m doing since more then 2 month now)
    And I was told that the reason why the warranty is denied is confidential.
    That looks more to me as if the dealer has no clue at all why the airbags exploded!

    I asked some simple questions to GMC:
    - please announce me a contact person that is able, willing and competent enough to handle such an issue
    - the car is still under warranty, is that correct?
    - the airbags are additionally under repair warranty, because replaced recently, is that correct?
    - please provide a detailed list of all approved warranty repairs re my car
    - please let me know what GMC is going to do now

    GMC was not yet able or willing to answer the questions.

    After six weeks the statement from GMC:

    - The damage is not under warranty because the car is modified.
    - The modification indeed occurred before the first airbags explosion, but this time it’s no warranty because repairs under ‘car warranty’ are coming without ‘repair warranty’ and the replaced parts are not longer covered by the ‘car warranty’ and not covered by the ‘repair warranty’.
    - GMC is not able to provide the explanation why the airbags are exploding because it is confidential.
    - GMC assumes that the installed tires (different to the original brand) can lead to uncontrolled airbags explosion.
    - GMC assumes that the installation of other shocks (Rough Country) can lead to uncontrolled airbags explosion.
    - GMC assumes that the installation of a roll bar can lead to uncontrolled airbags explosion.
    - GMC assumes that the use of a portable DVD player in the car can lead to uncontrolled airbags explosion.
    - GMC assumes that the use of a mobile phone charger in the car can lead to uncontrolled airbags explosion.
    - GMC assumes that the installation of additional lights can lead to uncontrolled airbags explosion.
    - GMC assumes that driving on unpaved tracks can lead to later uncontrolled airbags explosion on paved roads.

    Of course I asked GMC some more questions:
    - Are the above GMC statements really true? If not, what is the right explanation?
    - If the statements are true, why are no warning placards installed and why is nothing mentioned in the manual?
    - What happens if I use a more powerful device then a mobile phone charger in the car? Will then the whole car explode?
    - What is the electronic link between the tires (brand) and the airbag system?
    - How can the car ‘remember’ the drive on an unpaved track and more important what leads to the airbags explosion a few days later on the paved road??
    - Why are all other car manufacturers in the world (including Great Wall/China and Tata/India) able to install functional airbag systems and GMC is not?

    …and of course no answer from GMC.
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  3. #2
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    Re: uncontrolled exploding airbags

    Depends on the extent of the modifications

    The side airbags may deploy in a rollover and if the vehicle is extensvely modified (and not done properly) then an unexpect deployment may happen without the vehicle actually rolling over.

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    6.2 Liter LS9 Supercharged V8 fp115's Avatar
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    Re: uncontrolled exploding airbags

    The first question is what did you do to your truck? Sounds like tires, shocks and roll-bars could definitely be the culprit, from what I can see here.

    If you put tough off-road tires, it can give off too many G-forces that can simulate a crash or the extra vibration can also make it seem like it is rolling over. Rollbars will only make the entire body more rigid and unable to flex with the extra vibration. The shocks would change the ride enough so that the airbag's factory calibration would not understand a crash versus normal driving.

    As for driving on unpaved roads, doing so may have some structural effects, by things either getting dislodged, something becoming stiffer/softer, or breakage.

    Yes it sucks, but you can expect that changes like this will affect your warranty.

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    6.2 Liter LS9 Supercharged V8 MrCritical's Avatar
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    Re: uncontrolled exploding airbags

    Heard of a Honda Ridgeline doing basically the exact same thing.

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    Re: uncontrolled exploding airbags

    Quote Originally Posted by fp115 View Post
    The first question is what did you do to your truck? Sounds like tires, shocks and roll-bars could definitely be the culprit, from what I can see here.

    If you put tough off-road tires, it can give off too many G-forces that can simulate a crash or the extra vibration can also make it seem like it is rolling over. Rollbars will only make the entire body more rigid and unable to flex with the extra vibration. The shocks would change the ride enough so that the airbag's factory calibration would not understand a crash versus normal driving.

    As for driving on unpaved roads, doing so may have some structural effects, by things either getting dislodged, something becoming stiffer/softer, or breakage.

    Yes it sucks, but you can expect that changes like this will affect your warranty.
    Let me get this straight? A GMC SIERRA a truck thats suppose to be professional grade??? Cant handle off roading , TRUCK tires or even a ROLLBAR or it will blow its airbags. The accessories that have been going on trucks for decades?? That is sad. No wonder GMC response is Confidential.

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    Re: uncontrolled exploding airbags

    How many trucks do you think are out there that have the same or similar modifications. Lift, tires, wheels, etc.. And how many of those have had air bag deployments?

    The vehicle roll over sensor is used to supplement the side Supplemental Inflatable Restraint (SIR) System. The sensing and diagnostic module (SDM) uses the input from the vehicle roll over sensor to assist in determining the severity of a vehicle roll over or near roll over condition. If the SDM determines a deployment is warranted, the SDM will cause current to flow through the deployment loops deploying the roof rail air bags.
    I'd look into the rollover sensor, and how it is mounted. The SDM could also be at fault, and probably should have been replace when the first deployment event took place.
    -GM ASEP Graduate, 2 years experience.
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    Re: uncontrolled exploding airbags

    Contact NHTSA.
    Contact GM.

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    Re: uncontrolled exploding airbags

    I agree that trucks have had larger tires, different shocks, etc for decades. Unless it was off roaded HARD, airbag deployment for no reason is totally unacceptable.
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    R2-D2 Astromech Droid Premium Member Neanderthal's Avatar
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    Re: uncontrolled exploding airbags

    Quote Originally Posted by F14CRAZY View Post
    I agree that trucks have had larger tires, different shocks, etc for decades. Unless it was off roaded HARD, airbag deployment for no reason is totally unacceptable.
    That vehicle would be out of our stable so damned fast the car salesman wouldn't have time to say, "What will it take to get you into this car TODAY?"

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    Re: uncontrolled exploding airbags

    The vehicle has sensors that are very finely tuned and lifting them will change the way the stability control system responds. I've seen installs on lift kits that require the stability control system to be recalibrated for this very reason.

    Quote Originally Posted by F14CRAZY View Post
    I agree that trucks have had larger tires, different shocks, etc for decades. Unless it was off roaded HARD, airbag deployment for no reason is totally unacceptable.
    Right, and for decades trucks were unsophisticated, didn't have airbags, and were a whole heck of a lot more dangerous to their occupants than trucks are today. A lot of engineering goes into them which means that a little more forethought should go into hacking them up and modifying them. There can be consequences.
    Last edited by Slideways; 09-26-2010 at 06:33 PM.

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    6.2 Liter LS9 Supercharged V8 fp115's Avatar
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    Re: uncontrolled exploding airbags

    Quote Originally Posted by intrepidcub View Post
    Let me get this straight? A GMC SIERRA a truck thats suppose to be professional grade??? Cant handle off roading , TRUCK tires or even a ROLLBAR or it will blow its airbags. The accessories that have been going on trucks for decades?? That is sad. No wonder GMC response is Confidential.
    What does that have to do with anything. If he did not make modifications, the truck would work as intended, but the modifications could have diverse effects on the sensors causing it to deploy airbags. Point fingers all you want, at the end of the day, when you do a modification, it is no longer covered under warranty.

  13. #12
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    Re: uncontrolled exploding airbags

    As far as I know, the side airbags should explode only due to a rollover or side impact.
    That usually doesn't happen driving my little kids daily to school

    GMC accepted the warranty at first occurence because the incident has nothing to do with the modification. (it was not an issue at all)
    Of course it is embarassing to have the same problem only a few weeks later.
    That means that the damaged parts were replaced, but the problem not fixed.
    Additionally it looks like GMC has no clue how to fix the problem or they are not willing to investigate it.

    GMC strategy is to ignore the problem - who cares if a customer is driving since months without fuctional airbags and seat belts.... nobody at GMC!

    GMC customer service just closed the first case number without any action and result, because they have to maintain the statistics regarding "solving problems in a timely manner"
    ...I've got a new case number, but the service is as lousy as it was before.

    GMC didn't even proposed any kind of solution or compromise.
    They want me to pay the replacement of the damaged parts (I would do that), but they cannot tell if the airbags will explode again or not....

    It's ironic that in a GMC the airbags can rather kill then protect you
    ...at least they explode at low speed.

    Maybe I should ask GMC for a discount if I'll buy the airbags monthly

  14. #13
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    Re: uncontrolled exploding airbags

    Quote Originally Posted by Neanderthal View Post
    Contact NHTSA.
    Contact GM.
    Thanks, NHTSA is a good idea!

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    Re: uncontrolled exploding airbags

    Lets see a full picture of your truck with the modifications. I have seen side airbags go off in a local truck that was off roading at a high speed locally causing the rollover sensor to trigger blowing the side airbags. As the GM engineer told us on his investigation it takes a lot to trigger the rollover sensors.

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    Re: uncontrolled exploding airbags

    It's not clear to me whether you have a lift or whether you have just installed different shocks and tires. In any event, as part of your notification, you should also notify the lift manufacturer and the installer (if not you) of the issue. They need to at least be aware of it.

    As for the lights, in the owners manual for my 08 Colorado, there is a warning about installing additional electronic and electric equipment. I don't know if that same caution applies to you but good customer service would have the servicing facility point that out (if it does) which you don't indicate happening.

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