Airbag system defect prompts Chevy Impala recall

Wire chafing can improperly suppress the front passenger airbag in an accident.

General Motors has recalled more than 289,000 Chevrolet Impala sedans from the 2009-2010 model years.

A GM employee earlier this year submitted a Speak Up for Safety report claiming intermittent loss of cluster gauges and a possible malfunction of the passenger presence sensor (PPS).

An investigation into past issues with the PPS module found that GM had identified wire chafing problems during the production process in early 2010. The company decided to add abrasion-resistant tape at the time, helping prevent wire damage, however vehicles built before February 10, 2010, lacked the additional protection.

Investigators spotted a significant increase in warranty claims related to PPS wiring for vehicles assembled without the abrasion-resistant tape. The company consequently decided to launch a safety recall.

Wire chafing can prevent the PPS system from recognizing that the passenger seat is occupied, improperly suppressing the passenger airbag in a crash. The defect can also cause problems with the instrument cluster and, in "rare circumstances," short the airbag fuse and disable all airbags and seatbelt pretensioners.

Service technicians will double-wrap the wires with anti-abrasion tape and replace any chaffed wires as necessary.

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