United States probes 4 deaths in Hyundai-Kia cars when air bags failed

United States probes 4 deaths in Hyundai-Kia cars when air bags failed

The US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said on Saturday it is opening a probe into why some airbags failed to deploy in Hyundai and Kia vehicles after crashes in which four people were reportedly killed and another six injured. Now the US government's road safety agency wants to know why.

The problem, which may affect as many as 425,000 cars made by the sister manufacturers, seems to be related to malfunctions of the computers that control airbag deployment, which are made by ZF-TRW.

The agency says it also is looking into a 2016 recall involving Fiat Chrysler vehicles that had a similar problem causing the air bags not to deploy. The agency says it has reports of six front-end crashes with significant damage to the cars.

In addition, the agency will try to determine if other vehicle makers are using potentially faulty parts made by ZF-TRW. Mr Trainor said the automaker is working with the NHTSA in the investigation, and that it has not seen any issues with any vehicle apart from the 2011 Sonata.

On February 27, a recall of close to 155,000 Sonatas was made by the company because of failures with air bags, which Hyundai said it traced back to short circuits in the control computers for the air bags.

Kia, the sister auto maker of Hyundai, which sells vehicles that are very similar, has not yet issued any recall.

Hyundai spokesman Jim Trainor said the problem occurred in rare head-on collisions that were offset from the center of the vehicles. "It's very unusual to have that kind of collision", he said Saturday.

The NHTSA said that Hyundai had carried out an investigation and determined the problem had been an electrical overstress in the computer.

Hyundai said in a prepared statement that the control circuitry for air bags was damaged during three crashes and in another was being investigated. Hyundai does not yet have a fix for the problem but said it expects the Sonata recall to start April 20. Kia has not yet issued a recall. The agency also said it's investigating whether the automakers followed safety reporting requirements.

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