Owners of Hyundai Sonata hybrid vehicles need to be aware of a potential seat belt recall that hasn’t received much attention in the news.
The issue is with model years 2011-2012 and involves the rear middle seat belt. When sold, the center rear seat belt in these vehicles included a release mechanism that detaches both the lap and shoulder portion of the belt at the lower anchorage point. This design does not meet Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards. Nearly 15,000 vehicles are potentially affected.
According to NHTSA information (see page 6 of the report), Hyundai dealers are replacing the center rear seat belts in the 1,600 vehicles in dealer inventory. But—and this is significant—they are trying to avoid taking any action with the 13,000 vehicles out on the road today. Hyundai Motor Company has filed a petition with NHTSA to avoid recall on the basis that “noncompliance…is inconsequential as it relates to motor vehicle safety.” While that petition is outstanding, Hyundai is not legally obligated to do anything for current vehicle owners. That means no owner notifications and no replacements or remedies until NHTSA has made its final decision.
It remains unclear what the non-compliant seat belt design actually means for vehicle safety or how a passenger would—or wouldn’t—be protected in a crash. But until those issues are resolved, consumers deserve to be aware that this issue exists and that it very well might be severe enough to warrant a recall.
A partner with Inserra & Kelley, Attorneys At Law since 1993, Craig Kelley focuses on personal injury law with a large emphasis on motorcycle and bicycle related cases and claims with the goal of first helping clients heal and then getting speedy resolution of their disputes.