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GM recalls 640,000 vehicles for carpet fire risk

General Motors notified dealers recently about a recall of 640,000 2019 and 2020 Chevrolet Silverados and GMC Sierras at risk of carpet fires, according to a November 14 NHTSA safety recall report. Included in the recall: the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra 1500 and the heavy-duty Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra 2500/3500 trucks.

“Following a crash that causes the seatbelt pretensioners to deploy, smoke or a burning odor from the area at the base of the B-pillar may be noticeable before a fire propagates sufficiently to be visible,” the report states. This applies only to listed models and year trucks with a carpeted interior; vehicles with a vinyl floor covering are not included.

The issue came to light after a July 2019 accident in which a fire occurred in a vehicle potentially originating in the area around a
front seatbelt pretensioner following its deployment. Just five days later, working with fire experts GM determined that there was sufficient evidence to continue with the investigation and come up with a safe repair.

In September a second vehicle was delivered to the GM Technical Center with a similar circumstance also culminating with a fire near the B pillar. GM voluntarily offered the recall option. Luckily in the several incidents that prompted the recall there were no injuries directly related to the faulty design.

Dealers will install a feature that will close off the opening in the pretensioner bracket so that exhaust gasses vent away from carpet material as designed. Of the number of vehicles recalled, GM calculates that only about one percent will have the actual defect in question. GM has instructed dealers to stop selling the vehicles until repairs are complete.

Last month corrections that prevent the pretensioner exhaust gases from coming in contact with the carpet were implemented at assembly plants in Silao, Mexico; Fort Wayne, Indiana; and Flint, Michigan.

Letters will be mailed to registered owners from GM soon. In the meantime, if you’re not sure if your truck is part of the recall you can contact your local dealer or use this recall search from the NHTSA with your VIN number. The vehicle VIN number is located on the lower left corner of your windshield on a small plate — it will be 17 characters long.

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