Chevrolet will fix the issue that causes Colorado ZR2 side airbags to deploy when being driven off-road.
Over the summer, we learned that Chevrolet’s vehicles might have a bit of a problem with the sensitivity of their side airbags. A video popped up showing that a Camaro doing donuts in a parking lot is enough for the side curtain airbags to think there is imminent danger of a roller and deploy.
As it turns out, the Camaro wasn’t the only one. According to Jalopnik, the Colorado ZR2 also suffers from this oversensitivity and fires off the side airbags and seatbelt pre-tensioners even with just a tiny bit of off-road jostling.
You can make the argument that a Chevy Camaro shouldn’t be doing donuts in a parking lot as it’s usually illegal, but the Colorado ZR2 is built for off-roading. It has off-road suspension, off-road tires, and is advertised as being an off-road capable truck. If it can’t drive offroad without the driver getting blasted in the side of the face from an inflatable bag, then Chevrolet has a really big problem.
But instead of a recall to fix the issue, Chevrolet is performing what it calls a “customer-satisfaction initiative.” Officially referred to as the “Unwanted Roof-Rail Airbag Deployments While Off-Roading” initiative, it will apparently act very similarly to a recall in that Chevrolet will contact ZR2 owners to schedule them for a repair that will prevent the side airbags from deploying with only the tiniest bit of jostling.
Jalopnik even emailed Chevrolet to get a bit of clarification on what the difference is, and received this in response:
"A safety recall is a regulatory requirement, issued when there is a defect that results in an unreasonable risk to motor vehicle safety. Customer satisfaction campaigns are issued to fix quality concerns that don’t rise to that threshold, but that we still want to fix for the benefit of the customer.”
If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s still not a recall because it didn’t come with an official statement from the NHTSA.
The not-at-all-a-recall affects 2017 to 2019 Colorado ZR2s only. Chevy dealers will reprogram the airbag sensors free of charge, and those who have already been forced to pay for their own repairs due to a random airbag deployment will be reimbursed by Chevy, but only if they can prove the airbag deployed incorrectly with data from the vehicle recorder.
It’s too bad that Chevrolet needed an expose in order to do the right thing, but that’s most of corporate America for you.