Hyundai Motor Co, South Korea's largest automaker, is recalling 221,630 Santa Fe sport utility vehicle and Sonata cars in the US over airbags issues, the US transport safety regulator yesterday said on its website.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) yesterday said that Hyundai will recall 199,118 Santa Fe SUVs built between 10 April, 2006 and 7 July 2008, and 22,512 Sonata sedans manufactured from 24 January to 21 June this year.
The safety regulator said that the front passenger airbags of the Santa Fe models have improper occupant classification system, which puts small-bodied people at risk.
Hyundai said in a statement that it has received complaints from some adults under 60kg whose air bags did not deploy. The air bags were originally programmed not to go off to protect children.
NHTSA said that based on occupants weight, the airbag is shut-off in order to prevent injury from deployment, and the occupant classification system (OCS) may need recalibration to accurately detect small-statured people.
According to the NHTSA, the sensors for the side airbags of the Sonatas need to be reprogrammed since there is a possibility that they may inflate without warning, even when there is no apparent collision, thereby increasing the risk of injuries.
Additionally, an unexpected deployment would be a significant driver distraction and would limit the driver's visibility, increasing the risk of a crash, said the safety regulator.
The recall is expected to begin next month, and Hyundai dealers will replace the curtain side airbags free of charge, said the NHTSA.