Hyundai has extended the recall of its Elantra and Accent sedans to deal with seatbelt repellents that could explode in the event of an accident. The recall, which originated with just a few hundred units and later expanded to include a few thousand, now targets about 239,000 models. Owners of 2019-2022 Accents and 2021-2023 Elantras, take note.
Like airbags, preventers (a system deployed to lock seatbelt retractors in the event of a collision) rely on small explosive devices. Instead of creating a gas that fills an airbag, however, the blast drives a piston that rotates the spool holding the seat belt, forcing it to quickly retract and tighten around the occupant, securing the airbags in place before they are placed. In the case of these models, the precipitators provided for the seatbelt retractor mechanism may not work the way Hyundai’s safety engineers might, and may leave the Shrapnel in an uncontrolled explosion cabin.
Hyundai says it is now aware of three incidents that are happening in the hands of a customer’s car. Two of these occurred in the United States (one with an accent and one involving an Elantra) and the third in Singapore (another with an Elantra). Unlike the high-profile Takata airbag recall, however, Hyundai’s problem seems to stem from the design of the hardware, as the failures appear to be linked to the microfracture of the delivery pipe that secures the gas generator (where small explosions are initiated). Fortunately, the issue seems to be isolated to Accent and Elantra because their crash structures behave in a collision; The same part did not fail in other vehicles, says Hyundai.
The discovery of the failure of this process prompted Hyundai to extend the withdrawal, as it now appears that the problem could be a defect in the design of the protector rather than a mere bad batch. Hyundai is in the process of contacting the owners of the Elantra and Accent to replace the parts with a modified design that includes a pressure relief valve designed to protect the mechanism in the event of a crash.