The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has launched an investigation into the passenger side airbags of the Chevrolet Impala; potential stalling issues with Dodge Chargers; and, with electrical circuits that control the Hyundai Sonatas seat belts. The model years are as follows:
- Impala: 2008 (potentially 2004-2010)
- Dodge Charger: 2011-2012
- Hyundai Sonata: 2006-2008
Over 300,000 cars are involved in the safety probe. The NHTSA cites a Texas accident in which an Impalas passenger side airbag failed to deploy. Thus far the NHTSA believes that the cause of the airbags may be a software issue.
The NHTSA has only received one actual complaint about Impalas failing to deploy, but the federal agency believes that a greater number of Impalas could suffer from the defect. Potentially, the investigation may ultimately implicate Impala model years 2004-2010.
Currently, the Sonata circuit issue may prevent the seatbelt from tightening during an accident and may prevent the deployment of airbags which would increase the severity of injuries. The Dodge Charger, seems to be suffering from alternator defects that cause the car to stall while driving. Consumers have reported that the Chargers stall while the vehicle is in motion and have witnessed smoke coming from the alternator.
Though few injuries have been associated with the three newly identified defects in Impalas, Chargers and Sonatas, it is clear that the NHTSAs preliminary investigation is geared towards preventing future deaths. This preliminary step by the NHTSA is an opportunity to gather further information before deciding to launch a formal three-tiered recall and investigation process.
The automobile companies have stated that they are committed to complying with the NHTSA's investigations. It remains to be seen whether the agency ultimately recalls the vehicles or finds that there is no widespread defect.
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