Fountain Valley, Calif. – Dec. 28, 2017 – Hyundai Motor America recently issued a recall order for more than 1,200 of its Santa Fe light sport utility vehicles from the 2018 model year, citing issues with a side curtain air bag inflator diffuser, according to a defect filing made with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
The issue specifically relates to the shape of the metal top-hat diffusers, which were not manufactured to specification. As such, in the event of a crash in which the side curtain air bags – on either side of the vehicles in the recall – deploy, the diffuser could detach from the inflator component.
Of the 1,201 vehicles in the recall, only 1 percent are believed to have this defect, and all affected Santa Fes were manufactured between Sept. 5 and Nov. 30, 2017 at plants operated by Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama and Kia Motor Manufacturing Georgia.
This defect is also the subject of recalls for both Kia and Ford, with both including far more vehicles than Hyundai’s.
Specifically, this is caused by the fact that the top-hat diffusers were not manufactured with the correct dimensions.
In certain situations in which the side curtain air bags are deployed, there is a possibility that the diffusers could detach from the air bag inflator, bringing with it two potential problems. First, the air bags might not inflate properly, and second, the metal diffuser could become a projectile launched into the vehicle. Both increase the risk of occupant injury.
To this point, Hyundai is not aware of any accidents or injuries related to the top-hat diffuser issue.
Timeline of Events
The potential issue was first spotted by the company that supplied the side curtain air bag inflator component on Nov. 18, 2017, and at that point it began production of the inflator components using properly sized top-hat diffusers.
On Nov. 27, 2017, the supplier then notified both Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama and Kia Motor Manufacturing Georgia of the potential defect with the inflator diffuser.
Both had received shipments of potentially affected components, and matched lot codes to vehicle production records to identify and hold back any of the affected vehicles still on site. Further, that information was used to identify affected Santa Fes that were already in dealer inventories or had been sold.
Then, on Dec. 5, Hyundai completed a review of the information and decided to initiate a recall of the affected vehicles.
Hyundai will notify owners about the risk related to the recall and ask them to bring the SUVs to local Hyundai dealers, where both the driver and passenger side curtain air bags will be inspected and – if necessary – replaced free of charge. Owners who already incurred any repair costs as a result of this top-hat diffuser issue will also be reimbursed by the automaker.
The company informed dealers of the recall on Dec. 20, 2017, and plans to notify owners on or around Feb. 9, 2018.