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United States investigating deadly Hyundai, Kia airbag failures

19 March 2018, 01:29 | Melanie Burgess

US takes closer look at Hyundai-Kia cars linked to 4 deaths where air bags failed

Airbags Didn't Deploy in 6 Head-On Car Crashes, Officials Say

The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has begun an investigation into accidents of certain Hyundai and Kia cars. Hyundai on February 27 recalled nearly 155,000 Sonatas after determining that an electrical overstress failed to inflate the air bags during collisions.

As airbag suppliers are different for the Sonata sedan sold in the US and South Korea and the kinds of airbags are different for the Forte compact sold in the two markets, there have been no reported cases of airbag problems for Sonatas and Fortes sold in Korea and other markets, the spokesman said. The agency also is looking into whether the same problem could happen in vehicles made by other companies, The Associated Press reported on Saturday.

Ko estimated the USA recall could cost as much as $575 million if air bags were replaced in 425,000 vehicles under review and the automakers were found responsible for the problem.

The automakers told the South Korean regulator that the Sonata and Forte models sold in the domestic market were not affected, an official at South Korea's transport ministry told Reuters. In addition, the agency will try to determine if other vehicle makers are using potentially faulty parts made by ZF-TRW. A spokesperson for Kia could not be reached for comment.

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Kia is partially owned by Hyundai, and together they form the world's fifth largest automaking group. There is no present way to solve the problem, the automaker said. A safety expert said that's critical to determining how widespread the problem is and whether it's just a Hyundai and Kia issue.

The agency says it will evaluate the scope of Hyundai's recall, confirm Kia's use of the same or similar air bag control computers and look into the cause.

The NHTSA also said that electrical overstress appeared to be the root cause in the 2016 recall by Fiat Chrysler America of 1.4 million USA vehicles for air bag non-deployments in significant frontal crashes.

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