Potential Airbag Malfunction Puts Kia Spectra at Center of Latest NHTSA Investigation
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Potential Airbag Malfunction Puts Kia Spectra at Center of Latest NHTSA Investigation

September 8, 2015

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has launched a defect investigation affecting certain model year 2007-2009 Kia Spectra vehicles.

NHTSA's Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) says that it has received 43 complaints alleging a malfunction of the front passenger seat occupant classification system (OCS) in the subject Kia Spectra vehicles. The complaints report illumination of the SRS (airbag) warning light.

According to ODI, all the complaints allege the cause of the light illumination to be a malfunction of the OCS sensor mat imbedded in the passenger seat cushion, and/or report the presence of diagnostic trouble code B1448, which also relates to the OCS sensor mat. Many of the complaints note that the malfunction occurred after the warranty period expired and mention high repair costs as a major deterrent to repairing the vehicle.

ODI says that a malfunction of the OCS mat sensor will cause the airbag diagnostic to detect a fault in the airbag system. This fault may result in either a) the passenger side airbag not being suppressed during a commanded deployment when a child or small adult is seated in the front passenger seat, or b) the passenger airbag system being inoperative (suppressed) when occupied by a passenger that would otherwise require airbag protection.

Both scenarios could put vehicle passengers at risk during a crash.

ODI is opening this preliminary investigation to determine the scope and severity of the potential problem and to fully assess the potential safety-related issues. ODI's opening resume for the investigation estimates that 186,000 Kia Spectra vehicles could be impacted.

The complaints referenced above can be reviewed on SaferCar.gov using the following identification numbers: 10745773, 10746133, 10745528, 10721336, 10715846, 10712140, 10712046, 10706009, 10705387, 10681321, 10677080, 10673071, 10654873, 10654522, 10652472, 10651525, 10643205, 10639671, 10638251, 10627289, 10621507, 10620724, 10615883, 10609000, 10607838, 10606252, 10577842, 10568029, 10564527, 10561224, 10558018, 10548300, 10546251, 10515126, 10514578, 10507314, 10505671, 10504605, 10502779, 10500601, 10491709, 10459289, and 10421138.