U.S. Investigates 4 deaths as Hyundai-Kia airbags fail to deploy in collisions
The United States authorities are probing 4 deaths in Hyundai-Kia cars when airbags failed to deploy while in road collisions
The airbags in some Hyundai and Kia cars failed to inflate in crashes in which four people died. The U.S. government’s road safety agency wants to know why?
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says it’s investigating problems that affect an estimated 425,000 cars made by the Korean automakers.
The NHTSA is also looking into whether the same problem could happen in vehicles made by other companies.
The safety agency says the probe will cover 2011 Hyundai Sonata midsize cars and 2012 and 2013 Kia Forte compacts. The agency says it has reports of six front-end crashes with significant damage to the cars. Four people died and six were injured.
The problem seems to be electrical and has been traced to electrical circuit shorts in airbag control computers made by parts supplier ZF-TRW. The NHTSA now wants to know if other automakers used the same computer for the control of the deployment of airbags?
Hyundai recalled nearly 155,000 Sonatas on Feb. 27 due to airbag failures, which the Hyundai blamed on the short circuits. Their sister automaker Kia, which sells similar vehicles, has yet to issue a recall.
Kia said in a statement Saturday, that it has not confirmed any airbag non-deployments in its 2002-2013 Kia Forte models arising from “the potential chip issue.” They are now preparing to work with investigators from the NHTSA. The company said.
“Kia will act promptly to conduct a safety recall, if it determines that a recall would be appropriate,”
One consumer complaint cited in NHTSA’s investigation documents said Kia was informed of a crash near Oakland. In this particular crash in which a passenger was killed, the airbags failed to deploy.
The NHTSA received a report in October 2015 relating an incident which previously occurred back in July 2013 when a 2012 Forte was involved in a serious front-end crash, when the passenger was killed and the driver was injured. According to the complaint, Kia was notified, the airbag computer was tested and it was “found not to be working.”
People who complain to the NHTSA are not identified in its database and so it was unclear whether the NHTSA verified the statement and the Kia company spokesman, James Bell said he could not comment beyond the company’s statement.
Hyundai spokesman Jim Trainor says the problem occurred in rare high-speed head-on collisions that were offset from the center of the vehicles. Trainor said: “It’s very unusual to have that kind of collision,”
Hyundai have seemingly investigated the crashes and found the problem was “electrical overstress” in the computers. Hyundai does not yet have a fix for the problem but said it expects the Sonata recall to start April 20. The problem also can stop the seat belts from tightening before a crash.
In the documents, NHTSA said it understands that the Kia Fortes under investigation use similar airbag control computers made by ZF-TRW. The agency noted a 2016 recall involving more than 1.4 million Fiat Chrysler cars and SUVs that had a similar problem causing the airbags not to deploy. Agency documents show those vehicles had airbag computers made by ZF-TRW.
The agency says four crashes occurred in Sonatas and two happened in Fortes. One Forte crash happened in Canada. All six crashes were reported to NHTSA between 2012 and 2017, but it was unclear when they occurred.
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