The Office of Defects Investigations (ODI) is an office within the NHTSA which investigates serious safety problems in the design, construction or performance of vehicles. The NHTSA is authorized to order manufacturers to recall and repair vehicles, if the ODI finds a safety issue. NHTSA investigations for the 2008 Chevrolet Impala, both ongoing and closed, are listed below:

  1. INVESTIGATION: Passenger Air Bag OCS Algorithm

    NHTSA Defect Investigation #DP14001

    • Status:
      PENDING
    • Date Opened: July 22, 2014
    • Date Closed: N/A
    • Recall: No recall yet

    Component(s): Air Bags
    Air Bags:Frontal:Sensor/Control Module

    Summary: On November 14, 2013, the Petitioner, Mr. Donald Friedman of Xprts, LLC (Santa Barbara, CA), petitioned the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to open a defect investigation concerning the operation of the passenger air bag Occupant Classification System (OCS) software logic and algorithm.The Petitioner alleges that a defect results in the inaccurate suppression of the front passenger airbag moments prior to a frontal impact/crash on model year (MY) 2004-2010 GM models.See the vehicle owner questionnaire (VOQ) filed under ODI No. 10568388 for further information on the petition.The petition was based on a crash occurring in Texas and involving a MY 2008 Chevrolet Impala which was occupied by an elderly couple each weighting approximately 170 pounds; both occupants were belted.In the crash, the Impala veered off the left inner lane and across the left shoulder lane and impacted the median concrete Jersey barrier multiple times.The vehicle impacted the barrier with a force sufficient to cause the vehicle to run up/climb the barrier and to deploy the front driver airbag; the passenger airbag was not deployed due to OCS suppression.Both occupants were injured, and the passenger developed additional medical complications post-crash.The petitioner alleges that the weight-based OCS algorithm used in the MY 2008 Chevrolet Impala is defective based on his assessment that, in this crash, it inaccurately changed the occupant classification and suppressed the passenger air bag in the moments prior to the frontal impact.In addition, the petitioner alleges that GM uses this type of OCS in other GM models since 2003, and that therefore all MY 2004-2010 GM models may be similarly defective.The petitioner cites an Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) report and FARS data to further support his allegation.ODI contacted the Petitioner for clarification, after which he provided additional information on February 14, 2014 and on May 8, 2014.ODI has reviewed the petition and subsequent information which includes the following documents and data related to the Impala crash: an air bag module event data record, an OCS data record, the police accident report, vehicle photos, accident scene photos, and medical records for the occupants.ODI also reviewed the IIHS Status Report and the FARS data analysis the petitioner provided.In addition, ODI has conducted an initial review of other internally available databases for information that may indicate a defect condition with the OCS, including VOQ reports on MY 2004-2014 Impala injury crashes that alleged an abnormal air bag deployment or a non-deployment, NHTSA's National Automotive Sampling System and Special Crash Investigations reports and cases indicating split deployments (where the driver's frontal air bag deployed but the occupied passenger's bag did not), and GM's Early Warning Reporting (EWR) data on death and injury for Impala vehicles.To date ODI has not identified reports indicating the presence of an OCS related defect in the MY 2004-2014 Impala.However, and in an abundance of caution, an evaluation of a limited scope of GM models, which will include a request for potentially related GM data on the MY 2007 to 2009 Impala, will be conducted to further evaluate the Petitioner's allegations.The ODI report cited above can be reviewed online at www-odi.nhtsa.dot.gov/owners/SearchNHTSAID under the following identification numbers:10568388