Last Tuesday, Kia announced that it is recalling nearly 73,000 of its Rio models due to a hazard existing with the passenger airbag system, which could erroneously deploy with a small child seated in the front passenger seat. This recall is now posted on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) website at: http://www-odi.nhtsa.dot.gov/recalls/latestRecalls.cfm. According to the information posted on the NHTSA website concerning the recall, the front seat passenger “occupant sensor mat can experience fatigue cracking…If sufficient cracking occurs, the classification system (OCS) will cease to function such that the system will not be able to detect whether a child passenger is in the seat and the airbag will deploy during a crash necessitating deployment.” Such a defect obviously increases the risk of injury to children riding in the front seat.
This defect apparently affects model years 2006, 2007, and 2008 Kia Rio vehicles. Kia is stating that it plans to notify owners directly and that Kia dealerships will replace the defective sensor mat free of charge. Although Kia is describing the recall as voluntary, federal law requires auto manufacturers, upon discovering a safety problem, to inform NHTSA within five business days of a plan for recall. Anyone driving a 2006-2008 Kia Rio, and who has small children, should immediately contact Kia Consumer Assistance Center at 1-800-333-4542 and make arrangements for an immediate repair of the defect.