NHTSA Investigates Why Kia, Hyundai Airbags Didn't Deploy in Fatal Crashes

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
nhtsa investigates why kia hyundai airbags didn t deploy in fatal crashes

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has opened a probe into two older-model Kia and Hyundai vehicles in the wake of six head-on collisions, hoping to discover why the vehicles’ airbags failed to deploy.

Included in the investigation is the 2011 Hyundai Sonata and Kia Fortes from the 2012 and 2013 model years. The collisions reported by the safety agency resulted in four deaths and six injuries.

According to the NHTSA, each collision caused significant damage to the vehicle, and should have led to front airbag deployment. This didn’t happen. The agency received the accident reports between 2012 and 2017.

Four of the collisions occurred in 2011 Sonatas sold in the United States, with a 2012 Forte and Canadian-market 2013 model rounding out the group. Naturally, part of the agency’s probe will determine whether airbags in other models might be affected. Some 425,000 vehicles currently fall under the NHTSA probe.

Speaking to Reuters, Hyundai brand spokesman Jim Trainor said the automaker is aware of two fatalities, adding that the head-on collisions occurred at a high rate of speed. The problem seems to exist only in 2011 Sonatas, he said.

Last month, Hyundai issued a recall for 154,753 Sonatas in the U.S. after receiving reports of airbag non-deployment.

“Hyundai indicates that the DIR stemmed from post-collision inspections of the air bag control units (ACUs) showing that an electrical overstress condition (EOS) of an ACU electronic component occurred in three of the crashes, and that the fourth ACU is under evaluation for the same concern,” the NHTSA said in its investigation summary. “Hyundai has not identified a remedy for this recall, and states that the cause of the EOS is being investigated with the ACU supplier, ZF-TRW.”

It’s believed the Forte models are equipped with the same ACUs.

[Image: Hyundai]

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  • GeneralMalaise GeneralMalaise on Mar 18, 2018

    Wait a minute now... I thought the Koreans were the NKOTB as far as quality and hitting the mark on what consumers want in a car. You mean buyers want to survive crashes too? Back to the drawing board...

  • IBx1 IBx1 on Mar 19, 2018

    At least that great warranty will replace the airbags. A long warranty makes a car reliable, right?

    • Highdesertcat Highdesertcat on Mar 19, 2018

      A long warranty generally means that the owner is saved from out-of-pocket expenses for the duration of the warranty, if all maintenance and warranty requirements for that warranty are met. In the case of the airbags, federal mandates re passenger safety will force the OEM to replace the airbags even if the car is out of warranty.

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