General Motors ordered dealers to stop selling the 2013 and 2014 versions of its most popular car, the Chevrolet Cruze sedan, because of a problem with air bags made by the Japanese supplier Takata, whose products are already the subject of a large recall on other vehicles.
GM said about 33,000 Cruzes may have a faulty driver’s side air bag inflator - the potential result of the wrong part being used.
“We are working diligently with the supplier of the defective part to identify specific vehicles affected and expect to resume deliveries by the end of this week, once those vehicles are identified,” said a GM spokesman, Greg Martin.
Takata devices are already the subject of a recall involving millions of vehicles made by Ford, Chrysler, Honda, Mazda, Nissan, Toyota and BMW. The Takata-produced inflator in those vehicles may contain propellant that can explode in certain situations.
The problem announced Wednesday by GM involves a different aspect of Takata’s inflators — how they are assembled. It was unclear how use of the wrong part would affect the air bag.
“Theirs is a chemistry issue, and ours is a mechanical issue,” said another spokesman for GM, Jim Cain.
A spokesman for Takata in Tokyo, Toyohiro Hishikawa, said the company was unaware of General Motors’ decision and could not comment. He said that Takata was a long-term supplier of the automaker.
It is one of the busiest times of the year for auto dealers, as car buyers flock to showrooms ahead of the summer season. The Cruze is GM’s best-selling car, with 32,393 Cruzes sold last month in the United States, up 41 percent from the previous year.
For now, Cruzes will remain on the lots of dealers. Cain said GM was discussing what to do about affected Cruzes that have already been sold.
As GM faced the air bag problem Wednesday, it also became clear there was a second case in which the company knew it had a safety problem but did not act decisively. That echoed its recent recall of millions of small cars, including the Chevrolet Cobalt, because of a faulty ignition switch that could shut off the engine, disabling the air bags and resulting in a loss of power assist to the steering and brakes. That defect has been linked to 13 deaths.
The newly disclosed case involves the ignition on many of the same vehicles. However, the problem is different. It involves whether the ignition key can be pulled out of the steering column without the automatic transmission being in park or with the engine running. That violates a federal safety standard designed to prevent vehicles from rolling away.