WASHINGTON — The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's Office of Defects Investigation has opened a query into seat belt pretensioners on certain 2020-2022 Kia/Hyundai vehicles, saying that they may rupture or explode.
A seat belt pretensioner is a part of the seat belt system that locks the seat belt in place during a crash.
The ODI said that if the pretensioner ruptures it could release shrapnel, causing abrasions or other injuries.
ODI is aware of three separate incidents of possible faulty seat belt pretensioners. In all three incidents, the driver-side seat belt pretensioner deployed abnormally, causing metal fragments to enter the rear cabin resulting in injuries to the rear occupants.
Hyundai and Kia have issued five separate recalls from October 2021 to April of this year concerning pretensioner ruptures.
The initial ODI investigation includes 2021 Hyundai Elantra/Elantra HEV vehicles; 2021 Hyundai Venue vehicles; 2021 Genesis GV80; 2022 Genesis GV70 vehicles; 2020-2021 Hyundai Accent vehicles; 2022 Hyundai Elantra/Elantra HEV vehicles; 2022 Kia Sorento Hybrid/Sorento PHEV vehicles; 2021-2022 Hyundai Elantra vehicles and 2020 Hyundai Accent vehicles.
The ODI said that it may expand the scope of the investigation if necessary.
Back in May, Hyundai announced a recall of 239,000 cars in the U.S. because the seat belt pretensioners could explode and injure vehicle occupants. Three injuries have been reported, two in the U.S. and one in Singapore.
In a letter to the Korean automaker, government regulators said that the driver’s and front passenger’s seat belt pretensioners can explode upon deployment and send shrapnel throughout the vehicle. Pretensioners tighten the belts in preparation for a crash.