Following reports of airbags failing to deploy, which may have resulted in at least four deaths, more than half a million Kia Optima, Forte and Sedona vehicles are being recalled, due to a risk that the airbag control units may short circuit.
The Kia airbag recall was announced by the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) on June 7, following an investigation into six reports of problems with Hyundai vehicles that feature the same airbag control unit, which has been linked to at least four deaths and six injuries.
About 507,000 Kia cars and minivans are impacted by this latest recall, which all feature an airbag control unit supplied by ZF-TRW, which is the same supplier of Hyundai airbag control units linked to recent problems with short-circuits that may cause the airbag to fail to deploy when needed to prevent serious injury or death.
In March 2018, Hyundai recalled more than 600,000 vehicles, and it now appears that the same issues may impact Kia vehicles, raising questions why it took several months for this latest recall to be announced.
The NHTSA launched an investigation March 16 into Hyundai and Kia vehicles after the agency received six reports of incidents when the airbags. Kia indicates no injuries or deaths have occurred that were associated with the recalled airbags on the affected vehicles. However, the investigation remains open.
The Kia recall affects model year 2010-2013 Forte and Forte Koup vehicles, as well as 2011-2013 Optima, 2011-2012 Optima Hybrid, and 2011-2012 Kia Sedona vehicles.
Auto makers are required to begin the process of a recall by notifying the NHTSA within 5 days of when they know or should have known about a defect. Failing to notify the NHTSA can cause the agency to be subject to fines for each day they failed to notify the agency.
In the Hyundai recall, the automaker identified a similar defective airbag controller from the same supplier, ZF-TRW, over three months ago.
There is currently no repair for the recalled Kia airbag controllers, but Kia said it will notify vehicle owners once the automaker and suppler have decided on an appropriate fix.
Owners of affected vehicles can search the NHTSA website using their VIN to see if their vehicle is affected. They can also contact Kia customer service at 800-333-4542 for more information.