Trucks

Chevy Colorado ZR2 airbags deploying off-road, owners say

Owners of the hardcore off-roader say that they are experiencing airbag deployments in non-crash or rollover situations and that GM isn't doing anything about it.

Nicole Dreon

Owners of Chevrolet's hardcore Colorado ZR2 off-road pickup truck are having problems with their side curtain airbags deploying in decidedly not hardcore off-road situations, Jalopnik reports, citing reports from multiple owners, and GM doesn't seem to be doing anything about it.

According to owners' statements, their vehicles experienced side curtain airbag deployments while traversing reasonably mild terrain in their Colorado ZR2s. The vehicles apparently determined that the movement of the trucks off-road qualified as rollover events, deploying the airbags and alerting OnStar to what it believed were crashes.

Repair costs stemming from the airbag deployments and the subsequent effects on other vehicle systems have cost owners thousands of dollars, and in many cases, General Motors has laid the blame for the deployment at the owners' feet, according to Jalopnik's report.

The report claims that GM blamed one incident on an owner's modification of a tailgate latch wiring harness and others on the fact that the vehicles were being used off-road, even though the ZR2, in particular, has been marketed as a competent, capable off-road vehicle.

Obstacles like this should present no problem for a truck like the ZR2, but owners are experiencing side curtain airbag deployments even during relatively mild off-road driving.

Emme Hall/Roadshow

Many of the affected owners believe that the Colorado's airbag sensors are improperly calibrated for a vehicle that is designed for the trail, with some citing the lack of a system like Toyota's RSCA Off switch, which allows drivers to disable the side curtain airbag sensors during off-road driving, preventing unintended deployments.

Nissan owners were having similar problems for years until the company issued a recall and refunds for repairs stemming from off-road related airbag deployment repairs. The company's fix involved recalibrating the side airbag sensors to allow for more height difference from one side of the vehicle to the other before deploying.

General Motors currently offers no such remedy, and many owners are taking the matter into their own hands, whether pulling the fuse that controls the airbag system or installing a switch that allows them to disable the airbags themselves when they want to go off-road. Neither situation seems ideal, since both fixes likely affect the whole airbag system and could leave the driver unprotected in the event of an actual off-road rollover situation.

It's worth mentioning that our own Emme Hall has has extensive off-road experience in the Colorado ZR2, including campaigning one in the Rebelle Rally last year, and hasn't experienced any issues with the vehicle's airbags.

GM representatives didn't immediately respond to requests for comment.