In May of 2012, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration launched an investigation of the 2012 Hyundai Elantra Sedan. The agency had received a complaint from an Elantra owner who suffered a severe laceration to his ear after the vehicle's side-curtain airbag deployed. A graphic photo accompanied the complaint.
A year later, NHTSA's investigation determined that the driver's injury was due to a flaw in the Elantra's design. Specifically, a support bracket attached to the Elantra's headliner was positioned in such a way that it could detach when the vehicle's airbags deployed. As a result, a recall was issued for 186,254 Elantra Sedans from the 2011-2013 model years.
Now, AutoNews says that NHTSA may launch an investigation of the sedan's sibling, the Elantra Touring. Approximately 52,000 of those vehicles from the 2009-2012 model years suffer from a similar design flaw -- though the agency says that it hasn't received word of any incidents associated with the Elantra Touring. In this case, NHTSA is being proactive, investigating the Elantra Touring's potential for injuring drivers before anyone gets hurt.
If NHTSA decides to launch an official probe of the 2009-2012 Hyundai Elantra Touring, that investigation will be the first of a three-step process leading to a possible recall. Should the agency find ample cause for concern in its preliminary evaluation, the probe would move to a second phase of engineering analysis, which would then determine whether or not a full recall is necessary.