What You Need To Know About Hyundai's Mass Car Recall In The US

Hyundai is recalling 239,000 cars in the U.S. to address seat belt safety concerns. According to the Associated Press, the automaker initiated the recall over reports of exploding seat belt parts. In a letter to Hyundai, U.S. regulators warned of the abnormal deployment of seat belt pretensioners in the driver and front passenger sides of the car that can cause an explosion. As a result, shrapnel may be dispersed throughout the vehicle, resulting in potentially serious injuries. So far, at least three people have been injured by exploding seat belt pretensioners, with two in the U.S. and one in Singapore.

The recall affects Hyundai Accents manufactured between 2019 and 2022, Hyundai Elantras made from 2021 to 2023, and 2021 to 2022 Hyundai Elantra hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs). According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), Hyundai is expected to notify owners of recalled vehicles by July 15, who will then be able to get their cars repaired at no extra cost.

How do seat belts explode?

Normally, pretensioners are designed to tighten seat belts in preparation for a crash. This helps restrict the movement of a passenger upon impact. Much like airbags, they rely on small pyrotechnic or explosive devices to work (via Autoblog). Instead of filling an airbag with gas, however, the small explosion causes the seat belt to retract and tighten around the passenger. If the pyrotechnic component malfunctions, an uncontrolled explosion can occur, releasing shrapnel inside the vehicle.

In the case of the recalled Hyundai vehicles, the abnormal deployment of the seat belt pretensioners appears to be the result of a design flaw in the pyrotechnic device. In one of the three reported injuries, a malfunctioning seat belt pretensioner reportedly sent pieces of shrapnel into a driver's leg (via WebMD). Fortunately, the design flaw can easily be fixed by securing a seat belt pretensioner's gas generator and delivery pipe with a cap to prevent any abnormal deployments from occurring (via Fortune).