Hyundai has issued a recall for more than 34,000 Santa Fe crossovers from the 2016 and 2017 model years. According to a bulletin from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, those vehicles may suffer from an electrical problem that could result in serious injuries to occupants during collisions, or it might just cause a great deal of frustration.
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The issue is rooted in the Santa Fe's wiring, which could be damaged when seats are adjusted. As NHTSA explains:
"The subject vehicles utilize front occupant seat belt buckles with an integrated switch to monitor the status of the seat belt buckle (buckled or unbuckled). The seat belt buckle is attached to the seat assembly by the seat supplier. When the vehicle’s ignition is turned to the ON position, the seat belt warning chime and light are activated in accordance with S7.3 of FMVSS No. 208. In the affected vehicles, the wires in the seat belt buckle harness may be damaged by the seat’s height adjuster mechanism...."
That damage can have one of two possible effects. First, it could prevent the warning chime from sounding and the warning indicator light from illuminating, meaning that occupants won't be reminded to buckle their seatbelts. If there's an accident and the belts aren't engaged, occupants could be exposed to far greater risk of injuries.
The second possible effect wouldn't necessarily cause injuries, but it would be extremely annoying. NHTSA says that in some cases, the warning chime and indicator light could remain on, even when occupants have fastened their seatbelts. Ack.
The recall affects 2016 and 2017 Santa Fe crossovers built between September 1, 2015 and February 12, 2016. All told, Hyundai estimates the total number of vehicles included in the recall to be 34,200.
Hyundai says that it will begin mailing recall notices to owners around May 6, 2016. After receiving those notices, owners will be able to take their vehicles to Hyundai dealers, who will "inspect and reroute the wires in the front seat belt buckle harnesses to their proper locations". The fix will be carried out at no charge.
If you own one of these vehicles and have questions, you're encouraged to contact Hyundai customer service at 800-633-5151 and ask about recall #141. You can also call NHTSA at 888-327-4236 and ask about safety campaign #16V145000.