The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is investigating certain Kia and Hyundai vehicles after receiving reports that the airbags failed to deploy in six frontal collisions linked to four deaths and six injuries. The vehicles under investigation include 2011 Hyundai Sonatas, as well as 2012 and 2013 Kia Fortes. Investigators believe the issue could be caused by airbag control computers manufactured by ZF-TRW, which are used in the Hyundai vehicles.
NHTSA’s Office of Defects Investigation is looking into why the computers failed during these collisions and whether the Kia vehicles use the same or similar components. In addition, NHTSA investigators will determine whether these airbag computers are used in vehicles produced by other auto manufacturers. There is a possibility the investigation will expand beyond Kia and Hyundai vehicles.
The computers used in the Hyundai vehicles can detect collisions, control the deployment of airbags and tighten seatbelts. In late February, Hyundai issued a recall for more than 154,000 2011 Sonatas due to airbag failures. Kia has not issued a recall, despite being aware of a catastrophic crash in California in 2013 where the airbags failed to deploy. During that incident, the airbag control module reportedly failed to perform.
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