Performance Cars

Chevrolet recalls almost every 2019 Corvette ZR1 for airbag problem

The car's performance was just too extreme for certain onboard electronics.

2019-chevrolet-corvette-zr1-11
Jon Wong/Roadshow

We knew the Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 was one mean track-devouring machine, but now there's even greater proof: its performance was too intense for its own onboard electronics. The car is being recalled because during intense track driving, the "Sensing Diagnostic Module" (SDM) might suffer a fault. That, in turn, could prevent the airbags from deploying in an accident.

The problem was discovered when Chevrolet hosted a media event at Road Atlanta on April 30, and was subsequently replicated by trials at the automaker's Milford Proving Ground in Michigan. Chevrolet says that if the ZR1 is "operated under extremely hard braking and sustained acceleration events under certain track conditions," its SDM can go into a fault mode, which might mean the airbags don't function. Worse still, the SDM can't be properly reset until the car's battery is disconnected.

Any problem that prevents safe airbag function is obviously a safety issue, so Chevy developed new software, applied it on the production line and is now issuing it as a recall. Specifically, Chevrolet's recall letter to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says the module has been, "calibrated for more aggressive driving conditions."

The recall affects every Corvette ZR1 built between Dec. 8, 2017, and May 31 of this year -- that's a total of 498 cars. Cars built after that point received the updated software. We've reached out to Chevrolet to find out how many ZR1s have been produced since May 31, but we'd guess it's safe to say that nearly every Corvette ZR1 was affected by this recall.

As if there was any doubt that a ZR1 is likely to experience "extremely hard braking and sustained acceleration events," allow us to remind you that the top-dog Corvette packs 755 horsepower, can hit 212 miles per hour and set a lap record at Virginia International Raceway by accident. There's no disputing that it's a serious machine.