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GM Recall Issued for Defective Third-Row Seat Belts

Niel Stender

A GM recall has been issued on their full-size SUVs around a defect with third-row seat belts on the outboard positions.

Defective Third-Row Seat Belts

Passengers relegated to the cramped way-way back in General Motors’ lineup of land-yacht sized SUVS may have something else to complain about, aside from eating their knees. A GM recall has just opened up, detailing a defect in the third-row seat belt installation, specifically the outboard positions.

2021 Cadillac Escalade - cadillac.com
2021 Cadillac Escalade - cadillac.com

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recall report filed on March 18, this GM recall affects close to 95,000 full-size SUVs under the General’s corporate umbrella. The number of impacted vehicles is as follows:

2021 GMC Yukon Denali - gmc.com
2021 GMC Yukon Denali - gmc.com

Only model year 2021 is included in this list, but if the vehicle does not have a third-row of seats or was built after November 18, 2020, it is not affected by this recall. General Motors estimates one percent of the vehicles were built with the defect.

What is the Issue with the Seat Belts?

2021 Cadillac Escalade rear seats - cadillac.com
2021 Cadillac Escalade rear seats - cadillac.com

The potential issue would have occurred during factory assembly. In some cases, one or both of the outboard seat belts were “inadvertently entrapped in or misrouted behind the outboard seat folding mechanism”. In this scenario, the seat belt can be damaged by the folding mechanism, which can in turn break during a crash. This of course represents a higher risk of injury.

GM discovered the problem in November 2020 during post-installation inspection at the factory. They’re instructing owners to look out for difficulty using the third-row seat belts and latching or operating the folding mechanism. General Motors dealers were notified of this recall on March 18, 2021. For impacted vehicles, they will inspect for damage and/or misrouting and either replace or reroute the seat belts.

GM’s Seat Belt Track Record

This is the latest in a string of GM recalls related to seat belt issues. In 2018, about 16,000 General Motors vehicles went under recall because seat belts were not switching into lock mode during child seat installation. Normally, when the seat belt is pulled all the way out and then released, it becomes “locked”. This is a common method for installing child seats because it keeps the seat snug against the vehicle.

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2010 GMC Acadia - carsforsale.com
2010 GMC Acadia - carsforsale.com

NHTSA opened an investigation in 2019 on 1.4 million GM crossovers – the Acadia/Enclave/Outlook lineup – with faulty seat belts. The catalyst was a recall on the same vehicles from five years earlier that was supposedly handled by GM. The steel cables connecting front seat belts to the vehicle were wearing out and then separating which is a major safety hazard. When reports surfaced in 2019 that the work related to this 2014 recall was not completed, an investigation was initiated.

2019 Chevrolet Silverado front seats - carsforsale.com
2019 Chevrolet Silverado front seats - carsforsale.com

Last year, over 600,000 GM pickups and full-size SUVs where recalled for an issue with the front-row seat belts. Affecting vehicles with a front-row bench, the center seat had instances where the seat belt bracket was improperly installed. This could cause insufficient restraint to a passenger in the event of a crash.

How Recalls are Being Handled

2021 Chevrolet Suburban - chevrolet.com
2021 Chevrolet Suburban - chevrolet.com

Notifications to owners are expected to begin in early May, instructing them to visit their dealer for the repair. The NHTSA safety recall report number is 21V-190 and vehicle owners can contact the manufacturers with questions at the following customer service numbers:

  • Cadillac: 800-333-4223
  • Chevrolet: 800-222-1020
  • GMC: 800-462-8782

The NHTSA site www.safecar.gov is another resource that provides open-recall information to consumers using the 17-digit Vehicle Identification Number.

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Niel Stender
Niel Stender

Niel got his start in the car world as a vehicle dynamics engineer with SVT at Ford. He still has dreams of running figure eights on the wet pad in an S197 GT500. These days, when not fending off karate kicks from the 3 tiny humans that run his household, he can be found on St. Louis backroads pretending to be Ken Block in his 6-speed Mazda 6.

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