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really awful
Crashes / Fires:
1 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
2 / 0
Average Mileage:
2,276 miles

About These NHTSA Complaints:

This data is from the NHTSA — the US gov't agency tasked with vehicle safety. Complaints are spread across multiple & redundant categories, & are not organized by problem.

So how do you find out what problems are occurring? For this NHTSA complaint data, the only way is to read through the comments below. Any duplicates or errors? It's not us.

2008 Hyundai Santa Fe seat belts / air bags problems

seat belts / air bags problem

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2008 Hyundai Santa Fe Owner Comments

problem #19

May 222009

Santa Fe 6-cyl

  • 10,000 miles


The contact owns a 2008 Hyundai Santa Fe. The contact stated that the air bag warning light illuminates on the instrument control, indicating that the passenger front air bag is inoperative. As a consequence in a situation that warrants the air bags may fail to deploy. The vehicle was taken to the dealer and a technician concluded that the failure is caused by a weight distribution failure. She contacted the manufacturer. Upon contact a representative advised her to sit in the rear seat, because the air bags are secondary safety methods; seat belts are the first. The failure mileage was 1,000. The current mileage was 3,000. Bl updated 10/13/09. The consumer requested to withdraw the complaint. The consumer wants all information deleted. Updated 10/13/09

- Reading, PA, USA

problem #18

May 062009

Santa Fe 6-cyl

  • 2,000 miles
The contact owns a 2008 Hyundai Santa Fe. While driving approximately 60 mph the "passenger air bag off" warning light indicator illuminated on the instrument panel. The warning indicator remained illuminated until the engine was turned off. The front passenger seat was occupied with a small stature adult. The air bag sensor does not detect a certain weight positioned in the front passenger seat. The vehicle was taken to an authorized dealer and the technician stated that the design and the air bag system was functioning properly. The manufacturer was notified; however, there were no resolutions. The contact has concerns of the safety risk involved. The failure mileage was 2,000 and the current mileage was 4,500. Updated 10/13/09. The consumer stated his wife weighed roughly 125. The passenger side air bag was off no matter how she sat in the passenger seat. Updated 10/15/09

- Dallas, TX, USA

problem #17

Aug 162008

Santa Fe

  • 1,000 miles
My wife and I purchased a 2008 Hyundai Santa Fe. The car is great running vehicle except for one safety problem: The front passenger airbag sensor does not detects my wife as an adult and toggles on and off at will. It is really frightening to be traveling down an highway or any road and realize that I have no airbag. My wife is 5' 3 " and weighs about 120 lbs and at times I needed to have her reposition seat to the total upright position to reset the airbag indication light. This does not give me a sense of security since I don't feel confident that it would deploy if needed.I called two Hyundai dealers and was advised that this a common problem and suggested for me to come in for a checkup. I at this time have not made an appointment with the dealer but will certainly make one asap.

- Staten Island, NY, USA

problem #16

Jul 222009

Santa Fe

  • 5,148 miles


The passenger airbag light comes on intermittently, indicating that there is no passenger air bag active while my wife is sitting in the passenger seat. This might happen 2 or 3 times in a 100 mile trip. I have been to three Hyundai dealers and also talked with Hyundai Consumer Affairs 3 times. All three dealers were able to see the problem with my wife sitting squarely in the passenger seat, but all dealers said that there is nothing that they can do to correct the problem. The dealers say that the load cells under the seat are set to require 80 lb of force before the air bag will function, to prevent possible injury to a small child. The Hyundai Consumer Affairs people are very supportive, and agree that the problem needs to be resolved, but are not able to help. My wife is 5'-6" tall and weighs 120 lb.

- Spirit Lake, IA, USA

problem #15

Jun 192009

Santa Fe

  • 300 miles
2008 Hyundai Santa Fe front passenger airbag light intermittently comes on stating airbag is off when there is a passenger sitting in the seat. I brought back to dealership and they claim they never saw this happen before on a Santa Fe but it did on the tucson. They put on a machine and claimed it was fine and of course would not happen when it was at the dealership. They told me they had to make some calls and I might need the seat replaced because the sensor may be bad and I would hear from them in a couple days. That was June 24, 2009 and it is now July 13, 2009 and I have not heard a thing. It happened last night when my husband and I went out and I took pictures and video of it to show me sitting in seat and the light on and without revealing my weight, believe me I am heavy enough to make the light stay off. I am going to call them again tomorrow and hope for some results. This could be a fatal defect and I demand it to be repaired.

- North Cape May, NJ, USA

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problem #14

Jul 102009

Santa Fe

  • miles
My husband and I recently purchased a 2008 Hyundai Santa Fe. Everything about the car is great except for one thing: The front passenger airbag sensor does not detect me as an adult and toggles on and off at will. It is really frightening to be barreling down the road and realize that I have no airbag. I have read that the sensor is set at about 120lbs and I weigh 115lbs. The arrogant service person at Hyundai recommended that I be the driver or sit in the rear seat! I couldn't believe they would just tell a 48 year old woman to sit in the back! (that should be interesting going on dates with the hubby or helping my 15 year old learn to drive.) the service person also asked me if I was sitting squarely on the seat with my legs extended. What" yes, I was sitting squarely on the seat with legs extended!! so, if I shift my butt slightly on a 4 hour drive - are they saying I'm responsible for the airbag not deploying" what ridiculousness. I was appalled. I have read online that many petite people have had this problem with the Santa Fe and the sonata. This is not an unknown or rare problem. I am taking it in to Hyundai service on Monday, but quite frankly, I was not encouraged by the questions the service people asked. If it can't be fixed to be armed at all times, I will return the car - and that would be a shame because we liked everything else about it.

- Brookfield, WI, USA

problem #13

Nov 152008

Santa Fe

  • miles


Purchased 2008 Hyundai Santa Fe. Air bag senor light would come on. When ever a passenger would shift their weight in the seat, the senor light would come on and stay on. Took into dealer two times with no problem found. Third time factory rep was present, problem found but could not be fixed. Was offered a different car with me paying the difference in sticker price or they would buy back my car with a fee. The lemon law in reverse. No action was taken to fix problem.

- El Dorado, KS, USA

problem #12

Oct 152008

Santa Fe

  • 300 miles
The contact owns a 2008 Hyundai Santa Fe. While driving at an unknown speed, the air bag indicator would not stop illuminating when the passenger seat was occupied. The vehicle was driven to the dealer and they stated that there was no defect. The air bag indicator remained illuminated even when someone occupied the passenger seat. The vehicle was driven to the dealer approximately two months later and was left for repairs. The mechanic stated that the failure could not be duplicated. The vehicle has not been repaired and the manufacturer was not notified. The current mileage was 4,000 and failure mileage was 300.

- Eldorado, KS, USA

problem #11

Dec 262008

Santa Fe

  • 1,700 miles
The last week for Nov. 2008 I purchased a new Santa Fe for my wife. On 12/26/2008 she was involved in a head on wreck. My 25 yr. Old daughter who is very petty about 110 lbs. Was riding in the passenger seat and the air bags did not deploy. Due to the air bags not deploying she was injured very seriously. I had no idea that there were prior complaints about the air bags it appears that there has been quite a few complaints I hope something is done before someone is killed. The manufacture needs to fix this problem.

- Fairfield, TX, USA

problem #10

Oct 232008

Santa Fe

  • 10 miles
The air bag suppression system of my 2008 Hyundai Santa Fe SE is suppressing the front passenger air bags when my wife, who weights between 110 and 115 pounds, occupies the seat. This has happen ever time my wife has sat in the vehicle since we took delivery about 3 weeks ago. The car was brought to the service department at advantage Hyundai in hicksville, New York were they used a male technician whom I was told weights 130 pounds to show me the occupant classification system was working to specs and indicated there was nothing further that could be done. I was also told by service that the occupant classification system would suppress the air bags for any weight under 120 pounds. Following this service appointment, I spoke with charlie case for the NHTSA who suggested I file this complaint.

- Merrick, NY, USA

problem #9

Nov 022008

Santa Fe

  • 400 miles


My 2008 Hyundai Santa Fe seems to have a faulty passenger occupant sensor. My wife weighs about 105 lbs. And the sensor intermittently recognizes the passenger seat as being occupied. When I sit in the passenger seat the airbag sensor light will turn off. I weigh 198 lbs. My wife can usually position the seat to make the airbag sensor light turn off but then the sensor light will come back on again after approximately 30 seconds of driving. This is a safety hazard since the passenger seat occupancy sensor should register anything over 100 lbs. As an adult and therefore the sensor should remain off indicating that the air bag is activated. The Hyundai dealer checked out the sensor and stated that it was working normally.

- Bow, WA, USA

problem #8

Jun 302008

Santa Fe

  • 145 miles
The contact owns a 2008 Hyundai Santa Fe. Immediately after the vehicle was purchased, the passenger side air bag indicator illuminated intermittently. The vehicle was driven to the dealer and the mechanic stated that the occupant classification system was defective. The vehicle was not repaired at that time. The vehicle was driven to the dealer a second time and the mechanic performed a diagnostic. The contact was informed that the occupant classification system was not defective. The failure persisted and the manufacturer stated that they were not liable for the repairs because the passenger needs to weigh 120 lbs or more. The current mileage was 5,000 and failure mileage was 145.

- Pittsburgh, PA, USA

problem #7

Oct 212008

Santa Fe

  • 19,500 miles
The front passenger air bag arms and disarms intermittently depending on the weight of the passenger. Recently my 21 year old daughter who weighs 130 pounds had the air bag light go on indicating that the air bag was turned off while we were driving. I cannot get anyone from Hyundai or the dealership to give me an exact weight requirement for the front passenger seat. Can a small adult who weighs 115 to 120 never sit in the front passenger seat, this should not be the case and we should be able to permanently arm the airbag if we want. I cannot get anyone to help me with this matter. The dealership says the airbag checks out fine so they are at a loss. I called Hyundai and the will not commit.

- Roswell, GA, USA

problem #6

Sep 192008

Santa Fe

  • 8 miles
Airbag sensor in front passenger seat does not detect an adult sitting in the seat. Air bag will not deploy in an accident.

- East Northport, NY, USA

problem #5

Sep 042008

Santa Fe

  • 6 miles
Hello, this is a new car (400mi.) and with my wife (5'4" and 120lbs.) sitting in the passenger seat the passenger side airbag light illuminates, indicating the airbag is off. Occasionally the light will go off (as expected, indicating the passenger airbag is armed) as we start driving and then it will come on after 5 to 10min. Of driving. It is very disconcerting to think the airbag may not deploy if needed. Thanks, dan

- Cincinnati, OH, USA

problem #4

Jun 012008

Santa Fe

  • miles
My 2008 Hyundai Santa Fe SE seems to have a faulty passenger occupant sensor. I weigh about 130 lb. And it often does not recognize the passenger seat as being occupied when I sit in it and the passenger airbag will turn off. I can usually position the seat to make the airbag come back on but then the airbag will turn off again while driving (although it is not supposed to turn off and on after 30 seconds of driving). This is a hazard as the passenger seat occupancy sensor should register anything over 100 lb. As an adult.

- Silver Spring, MD, USA

problem #3

Jun 202008

Santa Fe

  • 50 miles
Re: failure of the front passenger's air bag to be activated. Hyundai 2008 Santa Fe with 150 miles I am a 145lb 5'8" male. 75% of the time when I am sitting in the front passenger's seat, the front airbag fails to "turn on". even though I'm sitting upright with my feet placed on the ground, exactly as described in the owner's manual, the sensors located in the seat cushion fail to recognize me as an adult. I have visited the Hyundai dealer and their equipment says the sensors are working. I have numerous witnesses at the dealer who have observed the failure of the sensors to "turn on" the airbag when I'm sitting in the seat.

- Boulder, CO, USA

problem #2

Mar 032008

Santa Fe 6-cyl

  • 20 miles
Passenger seat airbag "off" indicator lights when a 115 pound, 5'8" adult sits in the seat (indicating that the passenger airbag will not deploy in the event of an accident). Local dealership and Hyundai national 1-800 complaint line indicate that the indicator light is performing to specifications. I believe specifications (supposedly a 130 pound minimum for full functioning of passenger airbag deployment system) are inappropriate and result in an unsafe situation.

- Miami Beach, FL, USA

problem #1

May 222008

Santa Fe

  • 2,656 miles
The contact owns a 2008 Hyundai Santa Fe. The passenger side air bag light constantly illuminates when the contact's wife is seated in the passenger seat. His wife weighs 103 lbs. When an occupant weighting 110 lbs or more is in the front passenger seat, the air bags work fine. The contact has attempted to get in touch with the dealer owner, but has been unsuccessful. The current mileage was 3,980 and failure mileage was 2,656.

- Texarcana, TX, USA

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