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U.S. probes air bag failures in deadly Hyundai, Kia car crashes

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said on Saturday it is opening a probe into why some air bags failed to deploy in Hyundai and Kia vehicles after crashes in which four people were reportedly killed and another six injured.

The agency said it was reviewing 425,000 2012-2013 Kia Forte and 2011 Hyundai Sonata cars. It also said it will determine if any other manufacturers used similar air bag control units and if they posed a safety risk.

Hyundai Motor Co issued a recall last month for 154,753 U.S. Sonatas after non-deployment reports were linked to electrical overstress in the air bag control unit, but said it did not have a final fix yet.

Hyundai spokesman Jim Trainor said the South Korean automaker is aware of reports of two deaths in its vehicles, which he said occurred in head-on collisions at extremely high rates of speed. Trainor said the automaker is working with the NHTSA in the investigation, and that it has not seen any issues with any vehicle apart from the 2011 Sonata.

“We are working on getting the fix as fast we can,” Trainor said.

NHTSA, which announced the start of the probe in documents posted on a government website, said it was aware of six crashes in which six people were injured when air bags failed to deploy in frontal crashes, including four in 2011 Hyundai Sonatas and two in 2012 and 2013 Kia Fortes. The 2013 Forte crash occurred in Canada.

The agency said the air bag control module was built by ZF Friedrichshafen-TRW, a German auto supplier that acquired TRW Automotive Holdings Corp in 2015. A ZF spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Saturday.

Kia Motors Corp did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

NHTSA said it believed that the 2012-2013 Forte cars also use similar air bag control units supplied by ZF-TRW.

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 U.S. vehicles for air bag non-deployments in significant frontal crashes.
 

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2012 Kia Sedona LX
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Is there any recent news on how Kia is going to fix cars under this recall? The recall campaign was announced in June and I got my letter in early August. Kia has indicated that owners will be notified when a fix is available, but I have seen nothing since getting my letter and checking in with my dealer.
 

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2011 Forte SX 2.4L (thankfully MPI) A/T 144K miles
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No idea how this 'fix' is progressing, but I do know for certain that my vehicle won't be one of the first ones to get it. If the collective braintrust of the airbag manufacturer and Kia/Hyundai haven't been able to solve the problem after this amount of time, then it must be a highly complex issue. And IMO that, along with the pressure they're under to deliver, increases the likelihood that they somehow mess up the fix. So I'll just wait for the dust to settle on whatever they come up with, and also make sure they're not creating new issues when replacing the parts.

If you want to be one of the first in line to get it, you can let us know how it's working (actually one would hope in this case that you will have no need to find out).
 

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99 Kia Elan, 17 Ford Edge Sport, 15 Mustang, 08 Harley Nightrain
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Discussion Starter #4
No idea how this 'fix' is progressing, but I do know for certain that my vehicle won't be one of the first ones to get it. If the collective braintrust of the airbag manufacturer and Kia/Hyundai haven't been able to solve the problem after this amount of time, then it must be a highly complex issue. And IMO that, along with the pressure they're under to deliver, increases the likelihood that they somehow mess up the fix. So I'll just wait for the dust to settle on whatever they come up with, and also make sure they're not creating new issues when replacing the parts.

If you want to be one of the first in line to get it, you can let us know how it's working (actually one would hope in this case that you will have no need to find out).
This problem is effecting most car manufacturers.

What Takata's Bankruptcy Means for Airbag Recalls: Quicktake Q&A

Takata, brought down by airbag crisis, files for bankruptcy
 

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2012 Kia Sedona LX
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I took mine in to the dealer the week following the recall letter. I should be up near the front of the line once a fix is announced. But it has been over a month and . . . crickets.
 

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2011 Forte SX 2.4L (thankfully MPI) A/T 144K miles
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This problem is effecting most car manufacturers.
...
Actually this is a completely different problem than Takata, even though it's airbags that are involved in both issues. In the Kia/Hyundai problem under discussion here, the TRW airbags (allegedly) don't deploy when they should during a collision. And the problem is so complex that they don't even understand yet what's going on, which IMO is even more of a concern than the problem itself.

I believe that Takata understood their 'shrapnel' problem quickly, and also came up with a timely resolution for it as well. However, the sheer number of airbag replacements is what caused them to eventually buckle at the knees.

But perhaps you're just trying to make the point that airbags have been a big PITA in general across the industry. If so, then just don't even bother reading what I wrote above ;)
 

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99 Kia Elan, 17 Ford Edge Sport, 15 Mustang, 08 Harley Nightrain
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Discussion Starter #7
Actually this is a completely different problem than Takata, even though it's airbags that are involved in both issues. In the Kia/Hyundai problem under discussion here, the TRW airbags (allegedly) don't deploy when they should during a collision. And the problem is so complex that they don't even understand yet what's going on, which IMO is even more of a concern than the problem itself.

I believe that Takata understood their 'shrapnel' problem quickly, and also came up with a timely resolution for it as well. However, the sheer number of airbag replacements is what caused them to eventually buckle at the knees.

But perhaps you're just trying to make the point that airbags have been a big PITA in general across the industry. If so, then just don't even bother reading what I wrote above ;)
No, you were right, I had assumed the issue was related, and have been educated.
 

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2012 Kia Sedona LX
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Actually this is a completely different problem than Takata, even though it's airbags that are involved in both issues. In the Kia/Hyundai problem under discussion here, the TRW airbags (allegedly) don't deploy when they should during a collision. And the problem is so complex that they don't even understand yet what's going on, which IMO is even more of a concern than the problem itself.
I suspected that we were dealing with something like this. They announced the recall in June, stretched things out until the end of July for a letter and even then said don't bring the car in yet as we're working on the issue. I only took mine in because the air bag light was lit (which was an unrelated issue due to a code thrown by a passenger seat sensor which has been discussed elsewhere on these forums). They reset my light at no charge.

When Kia made the announcement in June their PR guy indicated that for anyone uncomfortable with driving their car while Kia works on this problem, Kia will provide a rental. My Sedona has been sitting at the dealer for about a month now while I drive a vehicle that Kia is providing via the dealer. I suspect that they will waste no time in getting my car fixed and back to me so that they can get their car back.

Kia did not offer a rental vehicle in the recall letter, but a little research turned up a news item from 6/8/18 on Reuters which stated, in part:

"Kia spokesman James Bell said the company “is attempting to have a remedy by the scheduled owner notification date of July 27. If Kia does not have a remedy by that date or if any customer feels unsafe in his/her vehicle, we will provide a rental car until the repair has been completed.”"

I suspect that Federal law has something to do with this offer, but my dealer was very good about it when I asked.
 

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If anyone is looking for more information on this recall, go to the NHTSA vehicle recall web page, https://www.nhtsa.gov/recalls#vehicle. Manufacturers are required to provide NHTSA with all the documentation related to a recall, and NHTSA posts it on their web site. In the lower center of the web page, where it says Check your vehicle safety, click on search by NHTSA ID. Enter 18V363 in the white box and click go. Click on the recall title and scroll to the bottom where it says 12 Associated Documents. Click on that to see a list of documents related to the recall.
 

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The Takata inflator defect is a far more sinister example of airbag failure. The industry KNEW ammonium nitrate was not a stable propellant over time. That is why NO other airbag maker choose it for their products. Here is where it gets ugly. Takata intentionally chose a bad propellant, in order to undercut the price on the airbags already on the market. Carmakers then willfully chose the cheaper airbag, knowing full well the propellant was not going to be stable long term. The thing is, the problem took years to show up. So they value a higher profit over the lives of their customers.
 

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2012 Kia Sedona LX
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I finally got a letter on the fix - Kia involves installing a wire harness kit between the Airbag control unit and the vehicle wiring harness. I expect to get my car back today.
 

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99 Kia Elan, 17 Ford Edge Sport, 15 Mustang, 08 Harley Nightrain
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Discussion Starter #13
Had an airbag issue also, got replaced without any problems by manufacturer
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