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Hyundai recalls 220,000 vehicles over faulty airbags

The recall affects 199,118 Santa Fe sport utility models built between 2007 and 2009 and 22,512 Sonata sedans in the model years 2012 and 2013.

Hyundai Motor Co. is calling back more than 200,000 vehicles in the US for defective air bag deployment systems, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said over the weekend.

The recall affects 199,118 Santa Fe sport utility models built between 2007 and 2009 and 22,512 Sonata sedans in the model years 2012 and 2013.

The move by the company was prompted over concerns that the Santa Fe SUVs have faulty "occupant classification systems" (OCS) that are unable to recognize small bodied passengers in the front seat.

It means that in some cases the vehicles’ air bags may not be triggered during a crash or collision resulting in injuries or deaths. The air bags were originally designed not to hurt children.

The carmaker received a few complaints from adults under 130 pounds whose air bags didn't deploy. However, no injuries have been reported.

“The curtain side airbags on these vehicles may inflate without deployment command due to an error during manufacturing.”- National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Sonatas side airbag problem
On the other hand, the Sonatas covered under the recall have the exact opposite problem. Due to a manufacturing defect, the side airbags have been found to inflate for no apparent reason increasing the risk of possible injuries.

The traffic safety agency said, “The curtain side airbags on these vehicles may inflate without deployment command due to an error during manufacturing.”

The problem might “increase the risk of injury to occupants of the vehicle” and “an unexpected deployment would be a significant driver distraction and would limit the driver’s visibility, increasing the risk of a crash.”

The safety recall was initiated after an airbag reportedly deployed in an unoccupied vehicle in April. According to the company at least 16 incidents about Sonata’s airbags surfaced but no injuries have been reported so far.

Notifications in August
The South Korean automaker intends to inform the affected owners through mailed notifications sometime in August to bring their vehicles to an authorized dealership for inspection.

They will update the software to rectify the front passenger air bag sensors problem so they will accurately detect when a small individual is seated. Separately, Hyundai will replace side air bags free of charge.

Hyundai owners can visit safercar.gov or call 800-633-5151 to get more information on the recall.