Hyundai and Kia announced in late June that additional models are being added to an already expansive recall of vehicles equipped with seatbelt pretensioners that can explode in a collision, sending shrapnel into the cabin much the way a defective airbag inflator would. Separate expansions from the two Korean brands are adding a total of just under 90,000 new vehicles to the recall population.
The campaign was initially launched to address Hyundai Elantra and Elantra hybrid models earlier this year but was later expanded to cover more Elantras and incorporate the subcompact Accent. On the Hyundai side, the subcompact Venue is now included in the recall. Models covered were produced for the 2020-2022 model years. Kia is adding its new 2022 Sorento Hybrid and Plug-In models to the roster. Both are equipped with the same pretensioner design that has proven problematic elsewhere in Hyundai's lineup. The total recall population is now more than 300,000 vehicles, the bulk of which (nearly 240,000) are Elantras.
Like airbags, pretensioners are activated by small explosive devices. Rather than producing gases that fill an airbag, however, the explosion drives a piston that rotates the spool holding the slack from the seatbelt. This forces it to retract quickly and hold the occupant in place during a collision, allowing the vehicle's other safety systems (airbags, etc.) to perform more effectively. The defective pretensioners fail when the tube that channels gases toward that piston crack, allowing the gas (and parts of the device) to escape into the cabin instead of properly powering the seatbelt retractor.
Notices are being disseminated to dealers and owners and should arrive in August.