United States investigating deadly Hyundai, Kia airbag failures

Cornelia Mascio
Marzo 18, 2018

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is probing four deaths where the air bags failed to deploy during a crash related to a Hyundai-Kia recall.

The NHTSA said in documents that were published on its website the vehicles affected include the 2011 Hyundai Sonata and the 2012 and 2013 Kia Forte. It also said it will determine if any other manufacturers used similar airbag control units and if they posed a safety risk.

Hyundai spokesman Jim Trainor said the problem occurred in rare head-on collisions that were offset from the center of the vehicles.

'We certainly would do everything we can to help our customers, ' Trainor said.

The agency says it also is looking into a 2016 recall involving Fiat Chrysler vehicles that had a similar problem causing the air bags not to deploy.

The administration's Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) "is now aware of six crashes with significant collision related damage events involving Hyundai and Kia models where air bags failed to deploy in frontal crashes", which killed four people and injured six, it said in document on its website. Four of the crashes with significant damage occurred in the Sonata with the other two coming in the Forte.

The agency said the airbag control module was built by ZF Friedrichshafen-TRW, a German auto supplier that acquired TRW Automotive Holdings Corp.in 2015.

Hyundai recalled almost 155,000 Sonatas on February 27 because of air bag malfunctions and blamed the short circuits in the air bag control computers.

The agency also said that electrical overstress appeared to be the root cause in a 2016 recall by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles of 1.4 million USA vehicles for airbag non-deployments in significant frontal crashes.

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