Hyundai petitions NHTSA over Sonata recall

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A 2012 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid prototype.

A 2012 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid prototype. Image: JoeIn Southern CA/Flickr/CC BY-ND

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration  issued a recall for nearly 15,000 Sonata Hybrids on Friday. The recall concerns issues with the vehicle’s center rear seatbelts. While a recall isn’t terribly unusual, the Korean automaker’s reaction was. It plans to petition the NTHSA and challenge part of the recall.

Seatbelts violate federal standards

The NHTSA has issued a recall for 14,728 2011-2012 Sonata Hybrids — those that were assembled starting Dec. 2, 2010, and sent to dealerships by March 7, 2012 — over the model’s center rear seatbelts. According to the NHTSA, they violate Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards. The code states that seatbelts fitted with “a release mechanism that detaches both the lap and shoulder portion at the lower anchorage point” is forbidden for seats that do not fold. The front seats do fold, so the front seatbelts are not affected in the recall.

Hyundai wants to amend recall

Hyundai has agreed to replace the center rear seatbelts in the approximately 1,633 vehicles affected in the recall that have not yet been sold. However, it says it should not have to fix approximately 13, 095 vehicles that have already been sold because, according  to Hyundai, the problem presents no serious safety risk.

Automaker to petition NHTSA

Hyundai has said it intends to file a petition to the NHTSA in attempt to amend the recall parameters. The federal safety regulator will not require Hyunda to inform owners of the recall until the matter of the petition is resolved. If the NHTSA decides to reject the petition, however, Hyundai will again be required to inform all affected owners of the recall campaign.

Sonata Hybrid get high safety marks

While the recall effort may be a tiny hiccup on the 2012 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid’s reputation, its record for safety is impressive. It boasts six airbags, anti-lock brakes , a tire-pressure monitoring system, electronic brake-force distribution brake assist and traction control. It was also was one of six Hyundai models to earn a nod for Top Safety Pick from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety in 2012. The Sonata Hybrid also earned an 8.5 safety rating from U.S. News and World Report’s list of Best Hybrid Cars.

[Safety? Style? Performance? If you have trouble deciding which car to buy, let us help.]   

Volvo S60 and XC60 recall

In other recall news, The NHTSA reports that Volvo will recall 2,742 of its S60 and XC60 models because of an incorrectly-mixed underbody coating. If left unattended, the faulty coating could form icicle-like protrusions, hanging from the bottom of the vehicle. In a worst-case scenario, these formations could damage fuel lines and lead to a fire.


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