Irvine, Calif. – Dec. 27, 2017 – Kia Motors America recently announced a recall of more than 2,000 of its Sorento light sport utility vehicles from the 2018 model year, stemming from concerns related to assembly of their side curtain air bags, according to a defect filing made with the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration.
Specifically, the vehicles have side curtain air bags for both the driver and passenger sides with diffusers that can detach from the inflators during the air bag deployment process, potentially launching them inside the vehicle at high velocities and increasing the risk of injury in a crash.
All of the vehicles in the recall are expected to contain this production defect, and were manufactured from Sept. 5 to Nov. 29, 2017, but were not produced in VIN order.
This same issue has also led to recalls for both Hyundai and Ford within the past month.
All inflators in the Sorentos’ side curtain air bags come with a top hat diffuser, but in some of these vehicles – i.e. those in the recall – the manufacturing process saw the company install improperly formed diffusers. As such, when a crash that would deploy the side curtain airbags takes place, the diffuser can detach from the inflator and enter the occupant compartment, increasing risk of injury.
Unfortunately for owners, there is no way for them to determine whether this risk will apply to their vehicles unless they receive the recall notices.
Timeline of Events
On Nov. 18, a supplier of the diffusers identified and contained the potentially defective diffusers and began using only correct parts in side curtain airbag assemblies going forward.
Nine days later, on Nov. 27, the supplier informed Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia of the potential issue with the improperly formed diffusers. The following day, KMMG stopped release of 2018 Sorentos that had potentially been equipped with the side curtain airbag assemblies with defective diffusers and notified Kia Motors Corporation of the issue.
Then on Dec. 1, Kia Motors made the decision to recall the 2,000-plus affected vehicles, despite the fact that there were no reported accidents or injuries for the affected vehicles.
All owners of the affected vehicles received notification of the recall via the mail, with instructions to bring their Sorentos to a local Kia dealer. There, the dealers will replace both the driver and passenger side curtain airbags with new and improved models that have proper diffusers. These repairs will be made free of charge, and Kia will also reimburse any drivers who incurred out-of-pocket repair costs for this issue previous to the recall being announced.
Dealers first learned of the recall on Dec. 11, while owners of the affected vehicles got their notifications on Dec. 13.