Nov. 23 (UPI) -- General Motors will recall more than 7 million SUVs and pickups for defective airbags after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration rejected GM's claim that the recall wasn't necessary.
The NHTSA ordered the recall for defective airbags from the now-bankrupt Takata company of GMT900 vehicles with model years between 2007 and 2014, including the Cadillac Escalade, Chevrolet's Avalanche, Silverado, Suburban and Tahoe and the GMC Sierra and Yukon.
GM had disputed whether the problem with these vehicles was serious enough to result in what will be the largest auto recall in U.S. history. Already, 63 million airbags have been replaced in cars from various makers across the United States.
A propellant in Takata airbags was found in 2014 to degrade after exposure to extreme weather, causing the bags to overinflate. Some airbags exploded, sending metal particles similar to shrapnel into the passenger compartment, killing at least 18 people and injuring many more, the NHTSA said in its recall letter.
"NHTSA concluded that the GM inflators in question are at risk of the same type of explosion after long-term exposure to high heat and humidity as other recalled Takata inflators," the agency said Monday.
GM already had recalled almost 800,000 vehicles with Takata airbags, but had held out against recalling the GMT900 models because they were built with a different kind of inflator than cars in the earlier recalls.
"Although we believe a recall of these vehicles is not warranted based on the factual and scientific record, NHTSA has directed that we replace the airbag inflators in the vehicles in question, GM said in a statement. "However, we will abide by NHTSA's decision and begin taking the necessary steps."
Airbags in affected vehicles will be replaced at no charge by GM dealerships. Vehicle owners will be notified by mail if their vehicle qualifies for an airbag replacement. They also can enter a VIN number on the NHTSA website to see if their truck or SUV is included in the recall.