Investigation into Potentially Dangerous Hyundai Elantra Airbag Malfunction Expanded

Investigation into Potentially Dangerous Hyundai Elantra Airbag Malfunction Expanded
Image: Hyundai

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has expanded its investigation into a potentially dangerous airbag malfunction in 2012 Hyundai Elantra vehicles to also include 2011 and 2013 models.

The NHTSA's Office of Defect Investigation originally launched an investigation into the 2012 Elantra in May of 2012 after one reported incident of an improper deployment of the driver-side curtain airbag during a crash that resulted in a serious driver injuries.

An inspection of this vehicle showed that a metal bracket (stiffener) in the headliner assembly had detached and was forced downward by the deploying air bag. The metal bracket caused a laceration to the driver's ear and other possible injuries.

Approximately 75,000 2012 model year Hyundai Elantra vehicles, built in Korea and sold in the U.S. , have stiffeners in the headliners while the 2012 Elantra vehicles built in the U.S. utilize a different headliner that does not use a stiffener. Thus, the latter vehicles are not included in this investigation.

Hyundai has inspected the headliner assemblies from eight Elantra vehicles (which were sold in the Korean market) with production dates in the same range as the field incident vehicle. Hyundai reported to ODI that the metal brackets from these vehicles were found to be securely attached to the headliners.

Hyundai also has conducted several static deployment tests in attempts to replicate the field incident. In one test, the metal bracket detached from the headliner but the test condition did not replicate or explain the condition observed in the incident vehicle.

An Engineering Analysis has been opened to further assess whether incidents like the single field incident could potentially occur with other subject vehicles. In addition to the subject vehicles, ODI also will collect and review information on model year 2011 and 2013 Elantra vehicles that have headliners with stiffeners similar to those in the subject vehicles.

To date, there have been no reports of incidents involving 2011 and 2013 Elantra vehicles.