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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Yesterday I took the ZR2 out on the sand in Imperial Dunes. Drove around, watched the buggies, got a little lost. On the way out, when the sand got really soft, the systems of the truck went kind of nuts, then the side airbags deployed without hitting anything.

I had aired down to about 15 PSI to stay on top of the sand, but the truck needed a healthy application of throttle to keep moving. I was in 4hi, off road mode, TC off and stabilitrak off, rear locker engaged. Other than what I considered high, but stable trans temps ( up to 240F ), everything seemed normal. After a mile or two, the dash display alerted me first to "steering power reduced", then a flurry of messages: "Lockers" ( as the rear locker turned off on its own ), "trailer braking system" (?), "Stabilitrak" ( that's all it said...) and a few others. I was trying to note all of them when the gauges started fluctuating wildly and the engine lost power and the truck sunk in the sand.

I turned the truck off, pulled out the knock-off maxtrax and shovel and proceeded to dig myself out. To control wheel speed on the trax, I put the truck in low. The front locker would not engage or even light up. I got out of the sand, put my toys away and continued to drive out. Headed up a non-descript, small dune, I gave the truck just enough power to get to the top and as I got there it sounded like a gunshot went off and someone punched me in the side of the head.

Both front curtain airbags had deployed and the seatbelts had tensioned. Onstar called, got annoyed when I told them I was not on a road for them to send assistance and I had not hit anything. I was unable to get the truck restarted, the interior and instrument lights would go out when I turned the key, but nothing else. I was also unable to turn the truck's key back to " off", it was stuck either in ON or ACC.

I had thought that all airbags were porous and deflated quickly after activation, but the side curtains are different. They stay fairly inflated for a few minutes and are kind of rigid. I wanted to get out of the truck after they went off, but for a minute I was trapped in there and had to cut the bag to deflate it. After looking over the situation, I got back in the truck and tried again. Can't start it, can't turn it off, don't really want to leave an unlocked, sort of on truck in the the dunes with all my stuff.

OnStar was unable to send recovery ( shocker!) but they did connect the call to Progressive, thinking this was now a disabled vehicle recovery issue. While I got passed around by Progressive from call center to call center, I pulled out my Bluetooth OBD code reader and Torque ( Android OBD app ) on my phone and cleared the codes ( I should have saved them, but...), which allowed the truck to start. I cut away the bags from the front windows, told Progressive that I would self-rescue and drove out.

So what now? The truck drives fine now that it's back on pavement. I've cut the airbags off and tucked the covers back over as well as I can. The front seatbelts are locked up, the passenger side is stuck in the retracted position, the drivers side extended.

I'll be having a long talk with GM about this incident. This is my daily driver, I don't want to have to deal with the extended loss of my new truck. I'm also of the opinion that I didn't do anything rough enough to this truck to cause this. In my opinion, it's a sensor failure of the truck. I'm also a little pissed about hearing loss in my left ear.
 

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Thats a nightmare from hell.
 

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There is video on YOUTUBE I saw awhile back where the same thing happened to someone else in a ZR2 riding in sand dunes.

Yeah I wouldn't be to happy either.
 

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i love all the advice

should have sat there and waited to get it towed.

i dont see gm at fault. they have no control over how people use/abuse their vehicles. safety systems probably did what they're designed to do.

try the comprehensive side of your insurance, thats what its for isn't it? onstar should have record of airbag deployment

extended loss of daily driver? suck it up. rental coverage?
 

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There is a video by GMGM i believe on the youtube that shows a white ZR2 doing high speed banked corners and the side curtains go off which can been seen from a drone following him and a camera inside the truck. Definitely no reason for them to deploy in that situation.

In that video it is suggested in the comments that there is a fuse for the side curtain bags that can be pulled when preforming such shenanigans however this should not be necessary. Air bags should not deploy when out having some fun, unless you actually crash.
 

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Whoops. That doesn't sound normal. Hope your ear stops ringing and you get some good explanation as to what went wrong. Keep us posted.
 

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There is a video by GMGM i believe on the youtube that shows a white ZR2 doing high speed banked corners and the side curtains go off which can been seen from a drone following him and a camera inside the truck. Definitely no reason for them to deploy in that situation.
Side airbags deploy when the system thinks the vehicle is rolling over. Absolutely a reason for them to deploy if someone is doing high-speed banked corners, the sensors detect a high angle and deploy to try and protect the occupants as it has no idea everything is fine and doesn't know the truck isn't rolling over.

Sounds quite a bit different than the OP's situation, though. As I was reading their post I was waiting for them to say they were side-hilling or doing something that would cause it to think the truck was flopping over but it sounds more like a wiring fault based on all the weird problems they were having that led up to that.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 · (Edited)
My ear feels like it's getting better. My guess is it's kind of bruised from either the noise or the slap in the side of the head.

Earlier in the day, I had done more side-hill kind of stuff, which is tough to avoid in dunes, even if they're small ones, but this climb was fairly straight up.

pltctycanyon, thanks for the helpful advice. I'd be happy to provide you with coordinates so that if you'd like to go out and wait for recovery that isn't coming in the sand dunes a few miles from the road, you can. At least with your 4x2, you're going to be stuck a lot closer to the road than I was, which will be helpful in getting someone to respond. Yeah, there are a few folks that do 4x4 recoveries in Glamis, but they're big $$ and a 5k lb truck in the dunes aren't really what they're good at. Regardless, neither Onstar nor Progressive were talking to those sorts of folks and I had no cell service once Onstar hung up.
I find it curious that you're under the impression that it's the function of the side impact systems to trigger without an actual rollover or an accident. I did not abuse my truck.

If GM is unwilling to repair this, I will of course be utilizing my insurance to repair the truck, or if the cost is low enough that it makes financial sense to pay for it myself rather than pay more for insurance, I'll do that.

I've seen the GM GM video and I'm happy to see his ZR2 is back in service, at least he's got new videos since the incident. Kelly Blue Book's long term test pickup had this happen to it at 5-7 MPH on a gravel road.

I'll update this post when I know more. Thanks everyone.
 

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Side airbags deploy when the system thinks the vehicle is rolling over. Absolutely a reason for them to deploy if someone is doing high-speed banked corners, the sensors detect a high angle and deploy to try and protect the occupants as it has no idea everything is fine and doesn't know the truck isn't rolling over.

Sounds quite a bit different than the OP's situation, though. As I was reading their post I was waiting for them to say they were side-hilling or doing something that would cause it to think the truck was flopping over but it sounds more like a wiring fault based on all the weird problems they were having that led up to that.
I'm saying no reason to deploy as in no actual rollover or impact. Obviously seems like a sensor issue where the truck thinks something is happening that is not actually happening. My point is if you haven't actually crashed, airbags shouldn't deploy.
 

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I'm saying no reason to deploy as in no actual rollover or impact. Obviously seems like a sensor issue where the truck thinks something is happening that is not actually happening. My point is if you haven't actually crashed, airbags shouldn't deploy.


And I’m telling you that side airbags are proactive and not just reactive. There are numerous instances of side airbags going off while off road with no impact of any kind, not even from hitting a bump hard. There are switches that will deploy the side airbags if they trip due to “extreme” angles. The bags then stay inflated for longer to cushion the impending impact from the roll over that it thinks is happening.


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And I’m telling you that side airbags are proactive and not just reactive. There are numerous instances of side airbags going off while off road with no impact of any kind, not even from hitting a bump hard. There are switches that will deploy the side airbags if they trip due to “extreme” angles. The bags then stay inflated for longer to cushion the impending impact from the roll over that it thinks is happening.


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I understand why the airbags deployed, i still don't think they needed to. especially in the situation of the OP who was not on a banked corner by the sound of it.
 

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I understand why the airbags deployed, i still don't think they needed to. especially in the situation of the OP who was not on a banked corner by the sound of it.


We seem to be having a communications problem. The OP was having multiple electrical issues prior to the air bag deployment, nobody is saying that his air bags deployed due to angles. There had to be a system fault.

My reply to you was in response to your post about someone’s side air bags going off while on a steep bank. Whether you think they should have deployed or not is of no consequence, they deploy based on different sensor inputs. Some are impact sensors, some are tilt sensors. Sometimes they get tripped off road when there was no impact or actual roll over. Sometimes people think they should have gone off when they didn’t.


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We seem to be having a communications problem. The OP was having multiple electrical issues prior to the air bag deployment, nobody is saying that his air bags deployed due to angles. There had to be a system fault.

My reply to you was in response to your post about someone’s side air bags going off while on a steep bank. Whether you think they should have deployed or not is of no consequence, they deploy based on different sensor inputs. Some are impact sensors, some are tilt sensors. Sometimes they get tripped off road when there was no impact or actual roll over. Sometimes people think they should have gone off when they didn’t.


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Communication error I suppose. I never thought my opinion was of any consequence. I only offered it as an opinion and nothing more on a public forum. I wasn't trying to get technical, just pointing out that he didn't actually wreck the truck so it sucks that the airbags went off.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 · (Edited)
I don't believe I was at a particularly severe angle, though I'm sure a bounced a bit as I got to the top of the moderate dune where the bags deployed. I did kind of go off the backside of the dune at a different angle than I had intended, but that's because I was reeling from the smack upside the head from the bag.

IMHO, these are off-road capable trucks, advertised as such. Neither the system failures ( even if they were false positives ) nor the airbag deployment, in the absence of a real rollover, should occur. I can't say for sure what factors ( impact, various acceleration sensors, system confusion or something else ) caused the deployment, but if it's happened this many times to various folks that we know of without a real rollover, it seems to me that it's happening too much. If I'd really rolled the truck I would have been glad to have them there, but I came nowhere near rolling.

Considering how fast these actually deploy when needed ( watch the GM GM video, the bag appears to deploy between frames, so <.05 second ) I think the system could take a little more time to do a little more error checking. Sure, if there's an impact, fire them off ASAP, but if it's just a rapid rotation for 30 degrees at a rate that's going to take a second or more to rotate 90 degrees, have the system make REALLY SURE it's going over before triggering the bags. Maybe add some additional checking or desensitize the system when the truck is in off-road mode?

I was curious if I could find any other examples of similar deployments and did a few google searches. I'm sure I missed a few, but folks with full-size GM trucks have had this happen, Camaros apparently have had it occur when hooning around as has at least one Tacoma owner, though someone in the thread I read claimed Tacos have a button to prevent this?

FWIW, I'm guessing that the higher percentage of vehicles that do robust off-roading from a model, the higher number will have this issue occur, though the sensitivity of an individual system would affect it as well. It looks like both 2018 JK and JK Jeeps will have ( seat mounted ) side airbags, so we may start seeing them happen to those folks as well.
 

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It sucks the side air bags are going off when off roading but looking at it from GM's point of view it has to be very difficult to make a truck this capable off roading and expect the airbags to know every situation. I'm guessing we need to find the fuse and pull it out. How about a Kill switch from the factory to disengage airbags on the ZR2 GM?
 

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This is troubling....this truck is definitely marketed as a go have fun and maybe even get a little crazy off-road machine. Most GM press events show them driving very aggressively and even encouraging reporters to jump the trucks. I've been concerned about this issue because I had seen some of those same incidents mentioned before so this worries me more every time I hear of another incident. I'm an avid off-road enthusiast and bought my ZR2 because of it's amazing ability in the dirt. I mostly do low speed rock crawling but given the opportunity I would love to open it up in the desert/sand dunes. Hope GM takes care of you and does it quickly
 
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