Hyundai has announced a recall of select Accent vehicles from the 2015 model year. According to a bulletin from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, some of those vehicles may suffer from software flaw that could increase the risk of injury to children during a collision.
The problem is rooted in the Accent's occupant detection system, which determines when the front-passenger seat is occupied by an adult, a child, or cargo. In certain cold-weather conditions, NHTSA says that the system in some 2015 Accent models may not be able to determine the presence of a child restraint seat (which, frankly, shouldn't be used in the front seat anyway).
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Should the system fail to do so, the passenger-side airbag will remain active. While that might be very good news for a full-sized adult passenger, it could cause serious injury to a child in a car seat.
Hyundai says that the recall is limited to Accent vehicles built between September 15, 2014 and February 10, 2015. All told, the recall affects 2,580 vehicles registered in the U.S.
Also, Jim Trainor, a public relations manager with Hyundai, notes that "the issue only occurs when the temperature inside the car is 0 degrees or less. Above that [temperature], there are no issues. And when the interior temperature warms from the heater even in those super cold days, the issue goes away."
Hyundai plans to mail recall notices to owners no later than June 5, 2015. After receiving those notices, owners will be able to take their vehicles to Hyundai dealers, who will update the Accent's occupant detection system software at no charge.
If you believe that you own one of these vehicles, you're encouraged to contact Hyundai customer service at 855-671-3059 and ask about recall #129. Alternately, you can call NHTSA at 888-327-4236 and ask about safety campaign #15V218000.