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Safety Experts Weigh in on GM’s Recent Brake Issue

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General Motors is facing a conundrum with its 2019 pickup trucks having poorly functioning software that prompted a recall from the automaker.

About 900 customers who have complained of brake failure in their pickups are being contacted by the company for an immediate fix, while 160,000 owners of 2019 GMC or Chevrolet light-duty trucks are being advised not to drive their vehicles should they see “Service Brake Assist” or “Service ECS” notifications on the instrument panel.

The problems are reportedly caused by faulty power brakes that require hard manual braking or holding the emergency brake to put the vehicle to a complete stop.

“If you have all these telltales when you start up the vehicle, indicating brake issues, don’t drive your vehicle,” said GM spokesman Dan Flores. “Call your dealer.”

In December, GM issued a recall on 550,000 Chevrolet and GMC light-duty pickups and Cadillac CT6 sedans in North America due to a software error.

Since mid-December, almost 1,700 GM pickup owners have complained the brakes of their trucks did not work even after going through the company’s recall and supposed fix. According to the company, a total of 162,000 owners had the initial recall done to their vehicles.

While GM now has a fix to the problematic initial recall, some pickup owners are furious at the company for apparently taking too long to notify them of the potential danger.

In effect, GM put its customers at risk by not informing them right away that they could lose brakes, said Safety Research and Strategies Inc., President Sean Kane.

“Once they realized it was caused by the OnStar app, disable that feature on the app and communicate it through Onstar,” Kane said.

Flores, meanwhile, said GM cannot alert customers of the problem before notifying the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration first and filing the necessary paperwork.

But Jason Levine, Executive Director at the Center for Auto Safety, does not buy GM’s excuse.

“Once you discover that it is the brakes, you do everything you can to notify everyone and that shouldn’t take (CEO) Mary Barra to weigh in. That’s a low-level decision,” he said.

In December, GM issued a recall on 550,000 Cadillac CT6 sedans and Chevrolet and GMC light-duty pickups in North America due to a software error that can disable the electronic stability control and antilock brake systems.

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