NEW YORK• The US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is investigating faulty air bags in certain Hyundai and Kia vehicles that have caused four deaths and six injuries.
The airbags have failed to deploy in frontal collisions, according to an investigation report posted on the administration’s website. 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.
The crashes involve Hyundai Sonatas and Sonata hybrids made in 2011, and Kia Forte and Kia Forte Koups made in 2012 and 2013. Hyundai on Feb 27 recalled nearly 155,000 Sonatas after determining that an electrical overstress failed to inflate the airbags during collisions. Hyundai is looking into the product supplier, ZF-TRW, for a possible cause for the electrical problem.
“We are actively investigating what exactly causes the airbag control unit to become damaged in these specific types of accidents, but are announcing this recall now to ensure the safety of our customers,” Hyundai said in a statement.
Kia said in a statement it “remains focused on the safety of its customers and it will work closely with NHTSA on the ongoing investigation, including monitoring and conducting additional crash testing as appropriate.”
The federal agency “will determine if any other vehicle manufacturers used the same or similar airbag control units, as supplied by ZF-TRW, and if so, evaluate whether the field experience of these vehicles indicates potentially related crash events,” according to the notice on NHTSA’s website.