NHTSA Defect Investigations for the 2011 Hyundai Sonata

The Office of Defects Investigations (ODI) is an office within the NHTSA which investigates serious safety problems in the design, construction or performance of vehicles. The NHTSA is authorized to order manufacturers to recall and repair vehicles, if the ODI finds a safety issue. NHTSA investigations for the 2011 Hyundai Sonata, both ongoing and closed, are listed below:

  1. INVESTIGATION: Air bags may be disabled during crash

    NHTSA Preliminary Evaluation #PE18003

    • Status:
      PENDING
    • Date Opened: March 16, 2018
    • Date Closed: N/A
    • Recall: No recall yet

    Component(s): Air Bags
    Air Bags: Air Bag Control Module
    Air Bags:Frontal
    Air Bags:Frontal:Driver Side Inflator Module
    Air Bags:Passenger Side Frontal

    Summary: The Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) is currently aware of six crashes with significant collision related damage events involving Hyundai and Kia models where air bags failed to deploy in frontal crashes.Four such crashes involved model year (MY) 2011 Hyundai Sonatas and two others involved MY 2012 and MY 2013 Kia Fortes.The MY 2013 Forte crash occurred in Canada and the Forte was a Canadian market vehicle.ODI learned of two crashes via Vehicle Owner Questionnaires (VOQ) filed in 2015 and 2016, and all six crashes were reported via Early Warning Reporting submitted between 2012 and 2017.In total, the crashes resulted in four fatalities and six injuries.On February 27, 2018, Hyundai filed a defect information report leading to NHTSA Recall No. 18V-137.Hyundai indicates that the DIR stemmed from post-collision inspections of the air bag control units (ACUs) showing that an electrical overstress condition (EOS) of an ACU electronic component occurred in three of the crashes, and that the fourth ACU is under evaluation for the same concern.Hyundai has not identified a remedy for this recall, and states that the cause of the EOS is being investigated with the ACU supplier, ZF-TRW.ODI's current understanding is that the above Kia products also use similar ACUs supplied by ZF-TRW.Additionally, ODI is aware of a prior recall, 16V-668 where EOS appeared to be a root cause of air bag non-deployment in significant frontal crashes in certain Fiat Chrysler vehicles.Under the investigation, ODI will evaluate the scope of Hyundai's recall, confirm Kia's use of the same or similar ZF-TRW ACU, review the root cause analysis of all involved parties, and review and evaluate pertinent vehicle and/or ACU factors that may be contributing to, or causing EOS failures.Additionally, ODI will determine if any other vehicle manufacturers used the same or similar ACUs, as supplied by ZF-TRW, and if so, evaluate whether the field experience of these vehicles indicates potentially related crash events.The above VOQs can be reviewed at NHTSA.gov under identification numbers 10781050 and 10849839.

  2. INVESTIGATION: Non-crash Vehicle Fires

    NHTSA Defect Investigation #DP18003

    Component(s): Electrical System
    Electrical System: Battery: Propulsion System
    Electrical System: Instrument Panel
    Electrical System:Alternator/Generator/Regulator
    Electrical System:Battery
    Electrical System:Battery:Cables
    Electrical System:Fuses And Circuit Breakers
    Electrical System:Ignition
    Electrical System:Ignition:Anti-Theft Controller
    Electrical System:Ignition:Module
    Electrical System:Ignition:Switch
    Electrical System:Starter Assembly
    Electrical System:Starter Assembly:Relay
    Electrical System:Starter Assembly:Solenoid
    Electrical System:Wiring
    Electrical System:Wiring: Rear Compartment/Trunk
    Electrical System:Wiring:Front Underhood
    Electrical System:Wiring:Interior/Under Dash
    Engine
    Engine And Engine Cooling
    Engine And Engine Cooling:Cooling System
    Engine And Engine Cooling:Cooling System:Fan
    Engine And Engine Cooling:Cooling System:Hose
    Engine And Engine Cooling:Cooling System:Radiator Assembly
    Engine And Engine Cooling:Engine
    Engine And Engine Cooling:Engine:Gasoline
    Engine And Engine Cooling:Engine:Gasoline:Belts

    Summary: In a letter dated June 11, 2018, the Center for Auto Safety (CAS) petitioned the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to initiate a safety defect investigation into non-collision related fires on model year (MY) 2011-2014 Kia Optima and Sorento, and Hyundai Sonata and Santa Fe vehicles. In a letter dated July 24, 2018, CAS requested that MY 2010-2015 Kia Soul vehicles be added to the petition. CAS stated that there is a higher number of complaints to NHTSA regarding non-crash fires on these vehicles compared to other similar vehicles. The Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) had already opened Recall Queries (RQ17-003 and RQ17-004) on all Kia and Hyundai vehicles equipped with Theta II engines for engine failures that may cause stalling and fires.The queries cover most of the petition subject Optima, Sorento, Sonata, and Santa Fe vehicles but not any of the subject Soul vehicles.On August 21, 2018, ODI opened a Defect Petition (DP18-003) to evaluate whether to grant or deny the CAS petition. ODI sent Information Request letters to Kia and Hyundai (September and October 2018) requesting information on all engine and non-engine related fires in the petition vehicles.ODI performed extensive analysis on the information obtained from Kia and Hyundai. During the DP18-003 analysis, Kia and Hyundai each initiated three additional safety recalls related to engine compartment fires on certain petitioned and non-petitioned vehicles (nearly 740,000 total vehicles: Recalls 18V-907, 18V-934, 19V-101, 19V-063, 19V-120, and 19V-204). Based on ODI-s review of the applicable materials, including responses to Information Requests sent to multiple manufacturers, Vehicle Owner Questionnaires (VOQ), and Early Warning Data, NHTSA decided to grant the petition.The CAS petition was granted on March 29, 2019. Preliminary Evaluations (PE19-003 on Hyundai and PE19-004 on Kia) have been opened to assess the scope, frequency, and potential safety-related consequences of alleged defects relating to non-collision vehicle fires in the 2011-2014 Kia Optima and Sorento, 2011-2014 Hyundai Sonata and Santa Fe, and 2010-2015 Kia Soul.Attached is a list of the reference numbers for the 404 VOQs cited above.

  3. INVESTIGATION: Non-crash Vehicle Fires

    NHTSA Preliminary Evaluation #PE19003

    • Status:
      PENDING
    • Date Opened: March 29, 2019
    • Date Closed: N/A
    • Recall: No recall yet

    Component(s): Electrical System
    Electrical System: Battery: Propulsion System
    Electrical System:Alternator/Generator/Regulator
    Electrical System:Battery
    Electrical System:Battery:Cables
    Electrical System:Fuses And Circuit Breakers
    Electrical System:Starter Assembly
    Electrical System:Starter Assembly:Relay
    Electrical System:Starter Assembly:Solenoid
    Electrical System:Wiring
    Electrical System:Wiring: Rear Compartment/Trunk
    Electrical System:Wiring:Front Underhood
    Electrical System:Wiring:Interior/Under Dash
    Engine
    Engine And Engine Cooling
    Engine And Engine Cooling:Cooling System
    Engine And Engine Cooling:Cooling System:Fan
    Engine And Engine Cooling:Cooling System:Hose
    Engine And Engine Cooling:Cooling System:Radiator Assembly
    Engine And Engine Cooling:Engine
    Engine And Engine Cooling:Engine:Diesel
    Engine And Engine Cooling:Engine:Gasoline
    Engine And Engine Cooling:Engine:Gasoline:Belts And Associated Pulleys
    Engine And Engine Cooling:Engine:Gasoline:Turbo-Charger
    Engine And Engine Cooling:Engine:Other Fuel Types:Turbo-Charg

    Summary: In a letter dated Jun 11, 2018, the Center for Auto Safety (CAS) petitioned the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to initiate a safety defect investigation into non-collision related fires on model year (MY) 2011-2014 Kia Optima and Sorento, and Hyundai Sonata and Santa Fe vehicles.In a letter dated July 24, 2018, CAS requested that MY 2010-2015 Kia Soul vehicles be added to the petition.CAS stated that there is a higher number of complaints to NHTSA regarding non-crash fires on these vehicles compared to other similar vehicles.The Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) had already opened a Recall Query (RQ17-004) on all Hyundai vehicles equipped with Theta II engines for engine failures that may cause stalling and fires.The query covers most of the petition subject Sonata and Santa Fe vehicles.On August 21, 2018, ODI opened a Defect Petition (DP18-003) to evaluate whether to grant or deny the CAS petition.ODI sent an Information Request letter to Hyundai (September 2018) requesting information on all engine and non-engine related fires in the petition Hyundai vehicles.ODI performed extensive analysis on the information obtained from Hyundai.During the DP18-003 analysis, Hyundai initiated three additional safety recalls related to engine compartment fires on certain petitioned and non-petitioned vehicles, (nearly 240,000 total vehicles: Recalls 18V-934, 19V-063, and 19V-204). In addition to engine compartment fires, ODI has received allegations of vehicle fires affecting other components, including taillight housings, taillight wire harnesses, and/or light bulbs. Based on ODI's review of the applicable materials, including responses to Information Requests sent to multiple manufacturers, Vehicle Owner Questionnaires (VOQ), and Early Warning Data, NHTSA has decided to grant the petition.The petition is hereby granted. A Preliminary Evaluation has been opened to assess the scope, frequency, and potential safety-related consequences of alleged defects relating to non-collision vehicle fires in the 2011-2014 Sonata and 2011-2014 Santa Fe.While prior recalls of vehicles covered by this PE have primarily related to engine fires, NHTSA's Preliminary Evaluation is not limited to engine components and may cover additional vehicle systems or components as well.Attached is a list of the reference numbers for the 160 VOQs cited above.

  4. INVESTIGATION: Scope and Timeliness

    NHTSA Defect Investigation #RQ17004

    • Status:
      PENDING
    • Date Opened: May 18, 2017
    • Date Closed: N/A
    • Recall: No recall yet

    Component(s): Engine

    Summary: On September 10, 2015, Hyundai Motor America (Hyundai) filed a Defect Information Report (DIR) recalling 470,000 MY 2011 and 2012 Sonata vehicles with ""Theta II" engines (Recall No. 15V-568). Hyundai's DIR described the defect as an issue involving manufacturing debris. Hyundai limited the population of recalled vehicles to those produced on or prior to April 12, 2012, stating that a process change in April 2012 resolved the issue of manufacturing debris. On March 31, 2017, Hyundai expanded its original recall to include 572,000 MY 2013-2014 Sonata and Santa Fe Sport vehicles with "Theta II" engines (Recall No. 17V-226). The DIR continues to describe the defect as an issue involving manufacturing debris.This RQ is being opened to investigate both the timeliness and scope of Hyundai's "Theta II" engine recalls, and Hyundai's compliance with reporting requirements.

  5. INVESTIGATION: Steering Shaft Separation

    NHTSA Preliminary Evaluation #PE10035

    Component(s): Steering
    Steering:Column

    Summary: The Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) is aware of 7 complaints and field reports and 10 warranty claims on the subject vehicles that allege the intermediate steering shaft became loose or in some cases separated from the upper steering column and/or the steering gearbox, causing (or potentially causing) the hand wheel to become mechanically de-coupled from the road wheels resulting in a complete loss of steering capability.The reported causes include excessive free play or separation of the intermediate steering shaft upper and/or lower universal joint cross shaft/yoke; missing, loose or damaged universal joint pinch bolts; improperly assembled intermediate steering shafts with misaligned splines or insufficient spline engagement preventing the universal joint pinch bolt from being secured in the retaining groove when fastened.On September 20, 2010, the manufacturer notified the agency that it would conduct a safety recall (NHTSA Recall No. 10V-426) to address the alleged defect in approximately 139,500 subject vehicles produced from December 11, 2009 through September 10, 2010.In addition to inspecting the steering shaft, the manufacturer will also update the electric power-assist steering control software to address complaints that the steering wheel vibrates or shakes as a result of a a motor driven power steering malfunction.The manufacturer began notifying affected owners by written letter on October 14, 2010.To date, 119,383 subject vehicles have been serviced under the recall campaign and 58 subject vehicles have received replacement parts as a result.Accordingly, this investigation is closed.

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