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2011-12 Hyundai Sonata Hybrids have a rear seat belt safety issue, says NHTSA

Consumer Reports News: March 16, 2012 12:08 PM

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A recall of 2011-2012 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid cars has been issued by the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. More than 14,700 of the Hyundai hybrid vehicles have rear center seat belts which fail to meet federal safety standards. However, Hyundai believes it doesn't need to fix the seat belt issue with all Sonata hybrids—or notify all affected Sonata owner, as required by the usual federal safety recall procedures.

The issue, says NHTSA, affects Hyundai Sonata Hybrids manufactured since December 2010. The federal safety agency claims both the lap and shoulder portions of the rear center seat belts disconnect when occupants press the 3-point safety belt's unlock mechanism—a violation of safety standards.

Hyundai claims it will fix the rear center seat belt issue in the approximately 1,633 new Sonata Hybrids still in dealer's lots. But the company has filed a petition with the agency to not fix the approximately 13,095 hybrids already in owners' hands "on the basis that the non-compliance described is inconsequential as it relates to motor vehicle safety," said the NHTSA recall notice.

Until NHTSA reviews and denies the Hyundai petition, Sonata Hybrid owners will not receive any notification from Hyundai that their vehicle may have this safety issue and that a fix is available.

In Consumer Reports' Ratings of the 2012 Hyundai Sonata, our engineers noted that the vehicle scored very well in government and Insurance Institute for Highway Saftey crash tests. (You can view online videos of the IIHS crash test on Consumer Reports Online.)

However, Hyundai Sonata Hybrid owners--and all car owners--can stay on top of federal safety recalls regarding their vehicles by subscribing to NHTSA e-mail alerts from the agency's website:

Recall: 2011-12 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid - Rear center seat belts     Campaign ID#: 12V098000 [NHTSA]

Paul Eng

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