Group Complains about Chevrolet’s Faulty Air Bags

May 20, 2014

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. watchdog /ˈwɒtʃˌdɔg/ (n.) – a person or a group that monitors and acts to stop wrongdoings
Example: A watchdog criticized the company’s latest product because of its defects.

2. recall /rɪˈkɔl/ (v.) – to order the return of something defective
Example: The company recalled most of its car models after reports of faulty engine.

3. fatality /feɪˈtælɪ (n.) – death caused by tragedies and accidents
Example: The car crash resulted in a few fatalities.

4. petition /pəˈtɪʃən/ (n.) – a formal document about request and/or complaint
Example: The organization sent a petition about an environmental issue to the government.

5. astonished /əˈstɒnɪʃd/ (adj.) – shocked and overwhelmed
Example: The people were astonished after seeing the road accident.


Read the text below.
An automobile watchdog group exposed General Motors (GM) corporation’s faulty air bags in its Chevrolet [SHEV-ruh-ley] car brand.

Recently, GM recalled 2.6 million cars of different brands under its name because of defective ignition switches. This technical problem caused air bags to deactivate. An air bag is important for every vehicle to lessen the impact in the event that the car crashes.

Aside from the ignition switches, the Center for Auto Safety claims that GM’s computer code for its air bag mechanism is also defective. This means that the air bag may not activate during an accident.

Through a letter, the Center for Auto Safety explained the problem to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The group found that the air bag’s computer code may improperly turn off if the passenger’s full weight is not sensed by the computer. This happens when the driver, for example, bounced on his or her seat during the accident.

Front-impact crashes due to air bag failure of 2000-2010 models of Chevrolet Impala caused about 143 fatalities. Because of this, Clarence Ditlow [KLAR-uhns DIT-loh], the center’s executive director, asked the NHTSA to examine these cases of air bag failure.

GM spokesperson Greg Martin assured the company’s full cooperation with the investigation of the NHTSA.

On the other hand, the NHTSA said it will evaluate the petition regarding the Impalas. NHTSA acting administrator David Friedman [FREED-muhn] said he was astonished upon learning that turning off the engine caused the air bag failure in the previously recalled GM cars. He added that the agency will further examine what went wrong with the air bags’ computer code.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         Why do you think a top corporation like GM still committed this mistake with their products?
·         Will the GM’s car brands’ reputation among consumers drop because of this issue? Why do you think so?

Discussion B

·         How can a company regain its consumers’ trust after an anomaly?
·         What should a company do to avoid repeating erroneous manufacturing?


May 20, 2014