General Motors (GM) Safety Cars

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GM Has a Patent for an External Pedestrian Air Bag

GM Has a Patent for an External Pedestrian Air Bag

Is it too little, too late?

Over the month of December, GM was granted more than 80 patents and, according to the Detroit Free Press, one of them was a patent for an external airbag that’s designed to “provide protection to a pedestrian.” GM isn’t the first company to take this route in order to protect those outside the vehicle, with Volvo being the first brand that comes to mind with a similar system that was introduced in Europe. Unfortunately, Volvo says it comes in second to crash prevention technology like that found as standard or optional equipment on most modern cars.

The patent, according to FREEP, describes the airbag being located in the fender area, ahead of the side doors but adjacent to the hood. One would assume the airbag would deploy milliseconds before impact and encase the whole front end or, at the very least, cover the windshield. Why the windshield? Well, according to Maeva Ribas, the manager of design analysis at The Carlab, it’s not the initial impact that’s fatal to pedestrians, but the secondary impact that occurs as pedestrians pass over the hood and hit the A-Pillars or the other areas around the windshield.

And, to be clear, GM isn’t exactly sure what it wants to do with the technology. Tom Wilkerson, the safety communications spokesman for GM, said, “The pedestrian protection airbag could become an important engineering solution in the future.” While another spokesperson, Patrick Morrissey, said: “It’s a promising technology, but we have no specific production plans at this time.”

As you can see, it’s certainly something that GM is looking into, but it’s not necessarily something you’ll find on your 2020 Chevy Impala. As of now, GM has some 40,000+ patents on file, and this one could very well fade into the abyss, being used only as a method of protecting design options down the road. With that in mind, I wouldn’t rule it out quite yet – In 2015 alone, more than 5,000 pedestrians were killed by cars in the U.S. And, in 2016, the figure raised to nearly 6,000 – the largest increase in pedestrian fatalities on record. So, it’s an ongoing problem and, while the U.S. isn’t as strict as it could be on pedestrian protection, other markets are, and the U.S. could very easily follow suit.

What do you think? Should automakers focus more on preventing the collision altogether or should the focus be on preventing injury in the event of an accident? Should both technologies be put to use? Let us know in the comments section below.

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Final Death Toll From GM's Defective Ignition Switches is Debatable

Final Death Toll From GM’s Defective Ignition Switches is Debatable

General Motors has claimed that 124 deaths were the result of faulty ignition switches. The number is almost 10 times more than the 13 deaths the company admitted to about a year ago, but 214 short of the total 338 death claims filed. The findings come from an internally appointed review team that considered over 4,300 death and injury claims.

As you might expect, not everyone is satisfied with GM’s findings. The Detroit News spoke with the executive director of the Center for Auto Safety, Clarence Ditlow, who said the “burden of proof on the individual consumer was always too high,” and that it was impossible for some would-be claimants to produce sufficient documentation.

“The entire program was designed to get [sic] help get Congress and the Justice Department off GM’s back,” Ditlow told The Detroit News. “The one thing is clear that we will never know how many people were killed or injured because it goes back so far.”

In addition to the death claims paid, the General Motors compensation fund will also pay out 274 injury claims, but says there are still a few left to review. Of the 4,342 total claims filed, 338 of which were for deaths, about 91 percent were rejected. So far, GM has paid about $280 million in claims and expects that number to climb to $625 million. Several claims have been rejected or not yet accepted.

Continue reading for the full story.

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General Motors Recalls 15K Trucks For Leaky Brakes

General Motors Recalls 15K Trucks For Leaky Brakes

General Motors is again issuing yet another recall – this time for 14,838 Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon mid-sized pickup trucks. The safety recall centers on the brakes of the 2015 model year trucks, as the front brake calipers might leak brake fluid, compromising the truck’s braking performance.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says the trucks involved in the recall were built from January 6, 2014 to December 24, 2014 – or basically the entire year. The issue stems from imperfections inside the metal caliper body that lead to air pockets forming in the brake fluid. Over time this can lead to fluid leaking from the caliper body.

Obviously a decreased volume of brake fluid leads to poor braking performance, which could potentially lead to a wreck due to extended stopping distances.

Like with all recalls, the automaker will inspect the effected parts and replace them if necessary, free of charge to the customer. In GM’s case, it will begin notifying customers of the effected vehicles July 10, 2015. For customers who want more information on the recall, they can contact Chevrolet at 1-800-222-1020 or GMC at 1-800-462-8782, specifying recall number 14888.

Continue reading for the full story.

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Car Infographics: Obama's Cadillac One is a Tank!

Car Infographics: Obama’s Cadillac One is a Tank!

Aspiring presidential candidates are already busy gearing up for the 2012 elections with hopes of becoming the most powerful man in the U.S. It’s a dirty job, but somebody has to do it, and luckily they have a presidential limo that can withstand the job.

At first glance, the Cadillac One just looks like a modified Cadillac DTS, but General Motors did not actually assign the presidential state car a specific model name. This may be due to the fact that it carries many different components from many different GM models, including Cadillac Escalade headlights, side mirrors, and door handles; Cadillac STS sedan taillights and back up lights; and what looks to be the GMC Topkick commercial truck’s chassis and driveline. GM went through a lot of trouble building the perfect presidential vehicle, but what happens to the car after the base build is what makes it capable of keeping our president utterly and unbelievably safe.

For starters, the car’s chassis has a 5" reinforced steel plate that runs underneath the car in case a bomb finds its way there. Then the entire bodywork is a combination of dual hardness steel, aluminum, titanium, and ceramic which breaks up projectiles upon impact. The doors and gas tank are armour plated, but the gas tank also receives a specially designed foam that prevents it from exploding. The tires are Kevlar reinforced and are shred and puncture resistant. If anyone successfully tears them apart, the steel rims underneath the tires will allow them to get the Cadillac One to safety.

The Cadillac One also has a number of accessories that enable it to solve problems quicker than they come around, including night vision cameras, pump action shotguns, tear gas cannons, and blood. Yes, that’s right. The Cadillac One is equipped with bottles of the president’s blood just in case he gets hurt and needs a blood transfusion. Take that, suckers!

Check back with us soon to find more interesting tidbits as part of our Car Infographics series.

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Largest Recalls in History: Who made #1?

Largest Recalls in History: Who made #1?

Toyota got a lot of crap last year for the millions of vehicles that were recalled due to problems with unintended acceleration, but where would the company fall in a list of the top automotive recalls? Our next piece in the Car Infographics series answers that very question with the largest recalls in our automotive history.

It happens more often than we would like, but recalls are just a part of the automotive business that we all have to become accustomed to. After all, these machines are man-made and as we all know, people can very easily make mistakes. So who tops the list?

Let’s step back to Toyota for a moment. In 2010, the company had to recall 5.3 million vehicles due to reports of the driver side floor mats getting wedged underneath the gas pedal, causing unintended acceleration. Models involved in this recall included the likes of the Camry and Prius, as well as other models ranging from 2004-2010. 5.3 million is a large number, but Toyota only captures the #4 spot.

Hit the jump for the top three position fillers.

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General Motors to recall 26,751 vehicles over faulty rear-axle cross pins

General Motors to recall 26,751 vehicles over faulty rear-axle cross pins

And here we thought that recalls were left behind in 2010. How silly of us. 2011 is barely a month old and we already have our first recall of the year.

Taking in the honor is General Motors who is recalling 26,751 SUVs and trucks from its 2011 model line-up. According to GM, the problem concerns a defect in the rear-axle cross pins, which were not heated properly and, as a result, could fracture and get displaced within the rear axle, creating an interference condition and, eventually, causing the rear axle to lock. This, in turn, could affect the driver’s ability to maintain directional control of the vehicle and a crash could occur without warning.

Affected GM models of the recall include the 2011MY Cadillac Escalade, Escalade ESV, Escalade EXT, Chevrolet Avalanche, Colorado, Silverado, Suburban, Tahoe, GMC Canyon, Sierra, Yukon and Yukon XL vehicles.

As is the case with all recalls, General Motors has instructed their dealerships to install a new rear axle cross pin to any affected vehicle at no cost to the owner. As expected, GM’s dealers will install a new rear axle cross pin free of charge, with the safety recall to begin before the end of the month.

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General Motors starts recalling over 1.5 million vehicles globally over malfunctioning wiper fluid heating system

General Motors starts recalling over 1.5 million vehicles globally over malfunctioning wiper fluid heating system

General Motors is in the process of beginning a global recall of GM cars and trucks over what is feared to be a glitch in the cars’ and trucks’ windshield wiper fluid heating system. According to GM, the malfunction could potentially lead to the system igniting a fire and, as such, the company is doing a pre-emptive strike on the dangerous issue by recalling over 1.53 million vehicles all over the world.

Among the brands that fall under this massive recall include Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, GMC, Hummer, and Saturn models.

This isn’t the first time General Motors has diagnosed a potential problem in their vehicles’ fluid heating system. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, GM faced a similar problem two years ago when fires resulting from an electrical short cut in the system were reported.

And to make things worse for the company, their supplier, Micro-Heat, is already out of business after having filed for bankruptcy in 2008, which, incidentally was shortly after GM decided to drop them as a supplier after the first recall happened.

So what exactly happens to all of these 1.53 million vehicles (1.36 million of them are in the US)? GM will be permanently disabling and will be completely removing the heated-washer fluid module from all the affected vehicles. On top of that, they’re also giving each affected owner a $100 refund for taking out the module completely.

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GM to recall a number of 2010 Cadillac SRX crossovers due to potential engine problems

GM to recall a number of 2010 Cadillac SRX crossovers due to potential engine problems

Octane ratings are more than just stickers posted on gas pumps; they have a pretty important purpose too, and one that - if not used the right way - could lead to problems for the 2010 Cadillac SRX crossover.

According to General Motors, the SRX, which comes with a turbocharged 2.8-liter V6 engine, could have a pretty embarrassing chink on its armor wherein putting in gasoline with an octane rating that’s lower than 91 could lead to some pretty serious problems causing pre-ignition. As such, GM is trying to nip the problem in the bud by recalling about 547 SRX crossovers that have been tagged by the NHTSA as potentially having this deficiency.

So if you happen to own a 2010 Cadillac SRX crossover, you might want to head over to your GM dealership to have your Engine Control Modules reprogrammed at no cost.

NHTSA press release after the jump

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Video: The evolution of General Motors’ crash test dummies

You gotta love those crash test dummies. Not only do they play an integral part in ensuring that the vehicles we drive are up to par with today’s safety standards, but contrary to what the name suggests, these crash test dummies are anything but stupid.

General Motors has a bunch of these state-of-the-art proxy humans in their Anthropomorphic Test Device Laboratory, and as they so generously show us in this latest VoltAge video, modern crash test dummies now come with their own recording device that is about the size of a cellphone. What this does is removes the burdensome old practice of having these devices put on the test car’s exterior, resulting in a complicated wiring system.

Apart from that, these modern test dummies are also more sensitive to their predecessors, which is a good thing because it allows company’s like GM to gather more pertinent data that could end up being used to determine a vehicle’s safety standards.

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Video: A brief introduction on GM's new 'Enhanced Vision System'

Video: A brief introduction on GM’s new ’Enhanced Vision System’

GM’s next-generation heads-up display technology will accomplish one of two things. The first thing is that it could revolutionize car safety by essentially allowing drivers to be able to see out of their own windshield on any condition. On the other hand, similar to just about every concept car we see these days, GM’s Enhanced Vision System could also end up in the same boat, never leaving the research and concept line of GM’s human/machine interface department.

In this video, GM’s Thomas Seder introduces the new technology and describes in great detail what it’s all about, including the technology’s capacity to be able to augment objects in the real world and highlight them so that the driver has a better understanding of where he is at all times.

While the video does a good job of describing the technology in broad strokes, it still left us with more questions than answers on whether this new system has a real place out there on the road or if it’s nothing more than a forward-thinking technology that’s more concept than it is feasible.

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GM recalling 857,735 vehicles

Like a McDonald’s cup of coffee, General Motors may have a problem with making its fluid too hot. GM is now recalling 857,735 vehicles because the heated windshield washer fluid system. A short-circuit in the system may cause other electrical features to malfunction, create an odor or cause smoke, increasing the risk of a fire, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said on its website.

The recall involves the 2007-2008 model year Chevrolet Silverado, Tahoe, Avalanche and Suburban, Cadillac Escalade, Escalade ESV and Escalade EXT, GMC Acadia, Sierra, Yukon, Yukon XL and Saturn Outlook; 2006-2008 Hummer H2, Cadillac DTS and Buick Lucerne; and the 2008 Buick Enclave. The fix will be an in-line fuse that will prevent the short circuiting.

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