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GM recalls nearly 29,000 Chevrolet Cruzes; faulty air bags can injure passengers

DETROIT - General Motors Co. is recalling more than 29,000 Chevrolet Cruze compact cars because metal parts in the air bag assemblies can hit the driver and passengers if the bags are inflated.

The cars, from the 2013 and 2014 model years, were built with an incorrect baffle, and that can cause the air bag inflator to rupture if the bags are deployed, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said. If that happens, metal fragments could hit people in the car, and the air bags may not inflate to protect them.

The air bags were built by Japanese parts supplier Takata Corp., but the problem is different from another air bag issue that's causing big recalls across the auto industry, the safety agency said Thursday.

GM had ordered dealers to stop selling new Cruzes on Wednesday. Spokesman Jim Cain said the order for most cars was lifted later in the day when GM determined which cars were affected. The Cruze, built in Lordstown, Ohio, is GM's top-selling car.

GM found out about the problem on May 1, when a driver filed a lawsuit naming the company, according to documents filed with NHTSA. The lawsuit alleged that an air bag in a 2013 Cruze deployed improperly and injured the driver.

Company engineers inspected the air bag and contacted Takata. GM told NHTSA about the problem on May 27. GM sent Cruze air bags to Takata, and the company figured out what was wrong on June 20. GM decided to recall the cars June 23, according to the document.

The documents show that GM is moving quickly on safety issues after being fined $35 million by NHTSA for its slow response to a small-car ignition switch problem. That problem touched of a safety review that has led to 45 recalls this year covering 20 million vehicles.

GM dealers will replace the air bags. Owners will be notified by letter when parts are available.

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