Kia recalls half a million vehicles in the U.S. due to airbag problem

Following news in March that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) was looking into reports of faulty airbags in vehicles made by Kia and its affiliate Hyundai, Kia has announced it is recalling more than half a million vehicles in the U.S. because of the issue.

The NHTSA decided to investigate the matter after learning of six accidents in which four people died and another six were injured. In each of the crashes, the airbags failed to deploy because of an apparent electronic glitch, Reuters reported.

Kia is recalling 507,000 vehicles in all, including 2010-2013 Kia Fortes, 2011-2013 Kia Optimas, and 2011-2012 Kia Optima Hybrid and Sedona vehicles. In April, Hyundai recalled 425,000 Sonata vehicles in the U.S. over the issue. This followed the recall of 154,000 Sonatas two months earlier, in connection with the same problem.

Kia says it doesn’t yet have a fix for the airbag issue. On its website, the Korean company said that as soon as a remedy is confirmed, all owners will be notified by mail with instructions regarding repair. It says that letters will go out from July 27, 2018, adding, “In the interest of the safety of your passengers, as well as your own safety, please contact your Kia dealer to arrange for the recall repair to be conducted as soon as you are notified of the availability of a recall remedy.”

As to whether it’s OK to continue driving one of the affected vehicles, Kia spokesperson James Bell told Reuters that if the company does not have a remedy by July 27 or if any customer feels unsafe in their vehicle, the company “will provide a rental car until the repair has been completed.”

The airbag system at the center of the recall is manufactured by German firm ZF Friedrichshafen, which is cooperating and supporting the NHTSA’s investigation.

The last few years have seen multiple recalls by numerous automakers around the world. In March, Ford recalled 1.3 million vehicles because of a fault with the steering wheel, while in February, Toyota recalled 65,000 vehicles over “improperly fastened bolts” and another issue affecting cars’ Vehicle Stability Control System.

BMW, too, recalled nearly 12,000 vehicles after discovering it had installed the wrong software, while a relatively new player in auto manufacturing, Tesla, has also had to issue several recall notices.

Kia’s airbag problem is separate to the more famous Takata scandal, whose faulty airbags led to the biggest recall in history, affecting more than 50 million vehicles from 12 automakers. Takata filed for bankruptcy in 2017.

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