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Feds, GM won't recall cracking dashboards

Published: Dec. 29, 2015 at 8:03 PM CST|Updated: Jan. 6, 2016 at 7:10 PM CST
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MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Despite an emerging pattern of complaints and General Motors' offer to cover the repair costs for a Mid-South consumer, the auto manufacturer says it has no plan to recall any of its vehicles for cracking dashboards.

GM offered to cover the estimated $1,082.78 repair of the cracked dashboard in Kyle Moncrief's 2011 GMC Yukon Denali after the Tate County, Mississippi, resident reported the alleged defect to the WMC Action News 5 Investigators.

"I opened it up, got in, cranked it up, and I heard the crack," Moncrief said, as he showed the crack running above his Denali's instrument panel. "I just happened to see this long, nasty crack."

The crack appears to have compromised the dashboard all the way to the passenger-side airbag. "If something were to happen...I was in a wreck, and the airbag were to deploy...there's shards of dash going through the cab."

His concerns prompted us to search the vehicle safety database of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the federal agency that regulates auto safety. According to the database, of the 13 complaints filed with NHTSA on the 2011 GMC Yukon Denali, eight concern cracked dashboards.

"There were more complaints," Moncrief said. "They were all in the same places, too. They were either over the instrument panel or over at the airbags."

And not just on the Yukon Denali, either.

We found cracked dashboard complaints on other GM models. The best example is the 2008 Chevy Tahoe. 34 of the 182 Chevy Tahoe complaints on record with NHTSA concern cracked dashboards.

There's even a Facebook page dedicated to the issue. GM owners post pictures of cracked dashboards in their Sierras, Tahoe LTZs, Chevy Avalanches and Chevy Silverados.

"It is a defect," Moncrief insisted, yet there has been no official defect investigation, no government recall, nor any voluntary recall by GM. "All you get is a run-around. I'm left with over a $1,000 bill to have it fixed," he added.

On Moncrief's behalf, we appealed to NHTSA, given the pattern of complaints in its safety database. "The frequency of complaints to NHTSA is not by itself a good indicator of a safety defect," said NHTSA spokesperson Kathryn Henry. "In this case, while we appreciate the frustration of the costs associated with this issue, we do not see evidence of a demonstrated safety risk."

We then appealed to GM in the hope it would consider a voluntary recall to address the concern. "Our engineers have investigated complaints of cracks in dashboards as described by WMC and concluded that they do not affect vehicle safety," said GM Communications spokesperson Tom Wilkinson.

But a week later, GM changed its mind. It notified Moncrief that it will cover the cost to replace his Yukon Denali's dashboard after all.
It has asked Landers Buick GMC in Southaven, Mississippi, to be the point dealership for Mid-South GM cracked dashboard complaints.

"They can contact us, and we'll go from there. It's going to be a case-by-case basis, the way GM's going to look at it," said the dealership's General Manager Randy Paton. "My suggestion is to put a dashboard cover in your car or maybe put a reflector in your windshield to keep your car cooler. That helps."

Moncrief said he's grateful GM stepped up to replace his dashboard, but he still believes it's a defect that warrants a federal safety investigation. "I still think that it's an issue for a lot of people," he said.

It's an issue for some Toyota owners, too. However, Toyota extended the warranty on its models whose dashboards are cracking. For the list of Toyota makes and models whose dashboards are covered under warranty, please click here.

The more complaints NHTSA receives about GM models, the more likely it may consider a defect safety investigation. GM owners with cracking dashboards can file a complaint with the agency or search its SaferCar.gov database right here.

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