Almost 130,000 Hyundai vehicles have been recalled after the manufacturer received nearly two dozen reports of problems with the front passenger seatbelt assembly, which indicate that the seatbelt may fail to latch properly and leave passengers exposed to an increased risk of injury in the event of a crash.
The Hyundai Sonata recall (PDF) was announced by the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) on June 24, after an internal investigation concluded that the seat belts latch plate tongue may fail to fully insert into the belt’s buckle, creating a hazard from either a partially or completely nonfunctional belt buckle assembly. To date, no injuries have been reported.
The seatbelts may fail to properly latch when the seatbelt buckle tongue is inserted into the buckle forcibly at an extreme angle, causing the ejector plate in the buckle latch assembly to rotate and force the adjacent interrupter blade to contact the switch housing.
The NHTSA indicates in the recall notice that this scenario may occur from forcibly inserting the belt into the buckle. Therefore, until repaired, owners should advise their passengers to gently buckle the latch or find alternative transportation if they experience buckle failure.
Hyundai began its investigation in August 2014, after receiving two warranty claims that indicated the front passenger seat belt buckles would not latch properly. Hyundai notified its seatbelt supplier, Autoliv, who began evaluating the warranty claims.
Over the next several months, Hyundai reviewed eight more warranty claims regarding failing seatbelt buckles, but decided to continue monitoring the claims and allow Autoliv to continue analyzing returned parts to gain a better understanding of the issue. By March 2015, at least 43 reports involving problems with the passenger seatbelt in Hyundai Sonata vehicles had been repaired, and by mid-June Hyundai and Autoliv determined a safety hazard existed and a recall was necessary.
The recall impacts 128,804 model year 2015 Sonata vehicles manufactured from April 25, 2014 to December 4, 2014. The defective seatbelt latches were only used in these model vehicles and no other Hyundai vehicles are impacted by the recall.
Hyundai has prepared a recall schedule that is anticipated to begin on August 21, and will consist of notifying owners on how to schedule a repair at their local dealership to repair or replace the front passenger seat belt buckle free of charge. Customers with questions may contact Hyundai customer service at 1-855-671-3059.