More than 220,000 Hyundai vehicles will be headed back to dealerships to fix two different airbag issues. The two Hyundai models affected are 199,118 Hyundai Santa Fe crossovers built between April 19, 2006, through July 7, 2008; and 22,512 Hyundai Sonata sedans built between January 24, 2012, through June 21, 2012.
Although both recalls concern airbags, they are not related. The Hyundai Santa Fe recall has to do with an occupant classification system that manages airbag deployment. The passenger detection system is designed to shut off the airbag if a child is sitting in the front seat; this is because children in a car seat are likely to be injured by the forceful airbag deployment than actually helped by it in the case of an accident. However, the NHTSA has determined that the system in the Hyundai Santa Fe may be faulty, and may not detect “small stature adults,” a slightly ambiguous term that refers to shorter occupants weighing around 110 pounds or less. If an adult is sitting in the front passenger seat and the airbag fails to deploy, it increases the likelihood of injury in a crash.
The Hyundai Sonata recall concerns the curtain side-impact airbag system. The curtain airbags deploy from the ceiling of the vehicle, and are designed to prevent head injuries in a side-impact collision. In the affected vehicles, the airbag may deploy for no reason, obviously scaring the bejeezus out of the driver, and possibly causing a wreck in the process.
Hyundai will begin notifying owners of the affected Sonata vehicles starting in August of this year; no timeline has been set for the Santa Fe, however. Dealers will update the software in the Santa Fe and replace the Sonata airbag free of charge. For more information, contact Hyundai’s customer relations at (800) 633-5151, or the NHTSA at (888) 327-4236 (TTY 800-424-9153). If you’re calling the NHTSA, the Hyundai Santa Fe recall campaign number is 105; the Hyundai Sonata is 106.