The 2011 Hyundai Sonata is part of this latest NHTSA airbag investigation

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is investigating reports of four deaths and six injuries from crashes in Hyundai and Kia vehicles whose airbags failed to deploy. The agency is also looking into whether vehicles from other manufacturers are affected as well.

Hyundai already has recalled 154,753 Sonata sedans from the 2011 model year because a short circuit within an airbag controller could prevent airbags from deploying in a crash. Now, NHTSA is investigating 2012 and 2013 Kia Forte sedans that may have used a similar controller from the same supplier, ZF-TRW.

“Hyundai is aware of three rare and unique accidents where airbag control circuitry was confirmed to be damaged, and a fourth accident is under investigation,” says Jim Trainor, a company spokesman.

Although Kia has yet to issue a recall, NHTSA estimates a total of 425,000 vehicles may be affected, between the two automakers.

Because Hyundai owns a big chunk of Kia Motors, vehicles from both companies share some parts and designs.

In addition, NHTSA reports that it is looking at other automakers to determine whether they used airbag control units (ACUs) from ZF-TRW that are similar to the ones used in the vehicles covered by this investigation.

ZF-TRW told CR that it could not comment on which vehicles use the company’s ACUs because of confidentiality agreements. “ZF supplies ACUs to different vehicle manufacturers, and each ACU is designed to a customer’s particular vehicle specification,” says John Wilkerson, a company spokesman. “ZF is working with its customers regarding this issue and supports NHTSA’s ongoing investigation.”

Kia did not respond to a Consumer Reports email requesting comment.

Currently, Hyundai does not have a fix for the Sonatas under recall.


Check to see whether your vehicle has an open recall: Plug in the 17-digit vehicle identification number at the NHTSA website. It will tell you whether your vehicle has any open recalls that need to be addressed.

CR members can stay up to date on their car recalls using our Car Recall Tracker.

2012 Kia Forte sedan
2012 Kia Forte sedan