US takes closer look at Hyundai-Kia cars linked to 4 deaths where air bags failed
19 March, 2018, 13:25
Hyundai on February 27 recalled nearly 155,000 Sonatas after determining that an electrical overstress failed to inflate the air bags during collisions.
The "failure of the airbag control unit (ACU) may prevent the frontal airbags from deploying in the event of a crash", it said. It is also looking into whether similar issues have happened in other cars that used the same parts.
The problems may affect 425,000 automobiles made by the South Korean manufacturers, and NHTSA is investigating whether vehicles made by other carmakers may be at risk.
"If there is a component in the module that is used by other systems as well, that number could increase significantly", said Keith Friedman, automotive safety researcher at Friedman Research Corp.in Austin, Texas, in a telephone interview Sunday.
Kia Motors has yet to announce a recall plan. The company said it will work with NHTSA investigators.
Last week, USA consumers filed class-action complaints in Miami federal court to recover costs against units of General Motors and Volkswagen as well as Daimler's Mercedes-Benz and Fiat Chrysler.
Hyundai said in a statement that the air bag control circuitry was damaged in three crashes and a fourth crash is under investigation. A spokesperson for Kia could not be reached for comment. Hyundai does not yet have a fix for the problem but said it expects the Sonata recall to start April 20.
Hyundai's sister automaker Kia, which sells similar vehicles, hasn't yet done a recall. ODI learned of two crashes via Vehicle Owner Questionnaires (VOQ) filed in 2015 and 2016, and all six crashes were reported via Early Warning Reporting submitted between 2012 and 2017.
In the documents, NHTSA said it understands that the Kia Fortes under investigation use similar air bag control computers made by ZF-TRW.
On Monday, Hyundai Motor shares fell 3.81 percent to 151,500 won and Kia Motors declined 3.53 percent to 31,400 won, both under-performing the broader KOSPI's 0.76 percent loss.
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