Published: Mon, March 19, 2018
Markets | By Noel Gibbs

Hyundai, Kia cars probed for faulty airbags

Hyundai, Kia cars probed for faulty airbags

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is probing four deaths where the air bags failed to deploy during a crash related to a Hyundai-Kia recall.

But a consumer complaint cited in NHTSA's investigation documents said Kia was informed of a crash near Oakland in which air bags failed to deploy and a passenger was killed. The scope of the probe includes an estimated 425,000 vehicles.

On Monday, Hyundai Motor shares fell 3.81 percent to 151,500 won and Kia Motors declined 3.53 percent to 31,400 won, both under-performing the broader KOSPI's 0.76 percent loss.

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At the time of announcing the Sonata recall, Hyundai said in NHTSA documents it was aware of four incidents related to the recall, and that was still investigating the fourth incident.

The specific concern with the air bags is an electrical overstress condition (EOS), which happens when an electronic device experiences a current or voltage beyond its specified limit.

The problem has been traced to circuit shorts in air bag control computers. The air bag control units in the Hyundai models detect collisions, control the deployment of air bags and can also tighten seat belts in anticipation of a crash.

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Last May, the NHTSA opened a formal investigation into the recall of almost 1.7 million vehicles by Hyundai and Kia over engine defects.

Kia spokesman James Bell said he could not comment beyond the company's statement.

The NHTSA has found overload in the electrical circuits that control airbags and is looking for the cause at the airbag manufacturer. The company has recalled millions of air bags - the largest recall in history - that had been linked to the deaths and spurred lawsuits leading to more than $1 billion in settlements from automakers including Honda Motor Co., Toyota Motor Corp., Subaru Corp., Mazda Motor Corp., Nissan Motor Co. and BMW.

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To help boost sales in key major markets, Hyundai and Kia gradually plan to ship more upgraded and new models, such as Hyundai's Santa Fe sport utility vehicle and Kia's K3 compact, this year.

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