Seatbelts are one of the first and most essential pieces of safety equipment in a vehicle. While computers now keep cars in lanes and tell drivers if they are drowsy, the seatbelt performs the vital duty of keeping occupants in their seats during a crash. So, it is a serious safety risk that seatbelt pretensioners can explode, causing injury to vehicle occupants.
In a letter to Hyundai, government regulators at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration informed the manufacturer that the front seat pretensioners were faulty – the pretensioner tightens the seatbelt to prepare for a collision but explodes, sending shrapnel throughout the compartment.
Understanding the concern
Three injuries have been reported so far, but the U.S. arm of the Korea-based auto manufacturer has announced that it will recall 239,000 cars in the U.S. Letters from Hyundai will begin going out on July 15. The vehicles recalled are 61,000 2019-2022 Accents, 166,000 2021-2023 Elantras and 12,000 2021-2022 Elantra HEVs, or hybrid electric vehicles.
The fix involves fitting a cap over the pretensioner. There will be no cost to owners, and the automaker also will reimburse owners for out-of-pocket expenses they incur to get the defect fixed. Owners may also need to pursue other protections under federal and California Lemon laws.