Hyundai will recall about 155,000 midsize Sonata sedans in the U.S. over concerns that airbags in the vehicles may not deploy and seat belts may not function properly in a crash.
The Hyundai recall covers 154,753 model-year Sonata cars manufactured between Dec. 11, 2009, and Sept. 29, 2010, at the South Korean automaker’s plant in Montgomery, Alabama.
The airbag problem stems from a short circuit in the airbag control unit, an electronic component that assists with airbag deployment. A short circuit in the control unit could leave motorists without front and side airbag protection in a crash, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said.
The short circuit could also affect the seatbelt pretensioners. Pretensioners are the devices that regulate seatbelt tension and remove excess slack in the belt during a crash. A lack of airbag and seatbelt protection in a crash could be catastrophic to the vehicle’s occupants. NHTSA says the potential defect puts Hyundai Sonata drivers at an increased risk of injury.
“The subject vehicles are equipped with an Airbag Control Unit (ACU), which detects a crash signal and commands deployment of the airbags and seat belt pretensioner. In some airbag non-deployment allegations, electrical overstress (EOS) was observed on [the circuitry] inside the ACU,” NHTSA said.
Federal regulators are aware of three cases in which the airbags failed to deploy in a crash.
According to NHTSA, Hyundai is still developing a repair for the problems but is expected to start recalling the affected vehicles April 20.
Hyundai separately recalled about 44,000 model-year 2108 Santa Fe and Santa Fe Sport SUVs last week following reports that the steering wheel detached from the steering column. Owners of the affected vehicles will be notified starting March 16.
Owners of the affected vehicles may contact Hyundai customer service at 1-855-371-9460 or the NHTSA’s Vehicle Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236 or go to www.safercar.gov.