Hyundai is recalling some 444,000 family sedans over faulty seat belt linkages in the front seats, which can fail to restrain occupants in a crash and increase the risk of injury or death. Hyundai says there haven't been any deaths or serious injuries related to the situation, but if you own an affected car — a 2011-14 Sonata or 2011-15 Sonata Hybrid — questions likely abound.
Related: 2018 Hyundai Sonata Review: First Drive
Our recall alert on the car answers a few of them, so check it out. We'll try to answer a few more below.
Didn't this recall already happen a while ago?
Yes. Hyundai recalled the 2011-14 Sonata and 2011-15 Sonata Hybrid in early 2017 for the same issue. At the time, the automaker determined that the seat belt's anchor pretensioner — a part that's fastened to the vehicle's inner structure — has a cable connector that may not have been properly connected to the belt's linkage. That could cause the belt to detach from the pretensioner, increasing the risk of injury in a crash.
Why is Hyundai issuing another recall for the same thing?
The original remedy called for dealerships to check the connection between the belt's linkage and pretensioner's cable connector, but Hyundai and its seat belt supplier have determined since then that the problem could recur after the inspection if someone disconnects and improperly reconnects the pretensioner, according to documents filed by the National Traffic Safety Ad Mini stration. Hyundai will attach a warning label "to make sure that whoever is doing the repair does it correctly," spokesman Michael Stewart told .
Is this because the original recall was performed incorrectly?
Hyundai claims no. NHTSA wanted the automaker to address the possibility that "the original recall was performed and then the vehicle is exposed to another repair or service involving the separation of the seat belt from the anchor pretensioner," Stewart wrote in a separate email. "There could be a possibility the seat belt may not be properly reattached."
Hyundai has updated its repair manuals so technicians confirm proper attachment between the belt and pretensioner, but the label "was developed so independent repair facilities and home mechanics would be clearly aware," he wrote.
What if I never got the original recall done?
You aren't alone: The majority of owners still haven't. The original recall encompassed nearly 980,000 cars; this one applies to some 444,000 that had the work done. Either way, you should bring your car to a dealer: The latest recall orders dealers to add the warning label, but Hyundai says it will incorporate that step for some 535,000 cars that never had the original work performed.
In short: If you did get the original recall done, this new recall adds the warning label. If you didn't get the original recall done, your car still needs the service — that is, for Hyundai to check the connection between the belt linkage and the pretensioner's cable connector — but this action ensures dealers will also add the label. At that point, the situation shouldn't require any further action.
What if I didn't get the original recall notice or this new one? How can I get the work done?
Hyundai is mailing out notices for the new recall this month. If you have a Sonata or Sonata Hybrid from those model years and never received a notice, ensure your car is registered at your current address and call Hyundai at 855-371-9460 or NHTSA's vehicle-safety hotline at 888-327-4236. Your dealership should also know about this recall, which NHTSA has filed as recall 17V-617. The original recall was 17V-152.
This seems like a waste of time. I don't ever plan to take the belt apart, and I trust my mechanic to do it correctly even without a warning label. Can I skip it?
Please reconsider. Your mechanic might know their way around a seat belt assembly, but future mechanics — or do-it-yourselfers — might not. Hyundai and its supplier have determined "a potential inadvertently [for someone] to reinstall the pretensioners without fully latching them," according to NHTSA documents. That could lead back to the original problem, where an improperly fastened seat belt linkage and anchor pretensioner can increase the risk of the belt failing to do its job in a crash.
If that's not enough, failure to comply makes it likely that your Sonata's vehicle identification number will eventually show the recall as unrepaired in NHTSA's online database. Discerning shoppers will take issue with that, which could make your car harder to sell down the road.
How long will the recall take? Are parts available yet?
I haven't had either recall performed yet, and I'm worried my Sonata's belts have improper latching. Can I get a loaner vehicle until the recall is complete?
That depends on your dealer, but probably not. The procedure is "a simple inspection that can be performed in the dealer's service drive," Stewart wrote. "A rental car likely won't be necessary."
Is the repair free?
Yes. Whether you bring in your vehicle for the original seat belt recall or this new one, the repair costs nothing.
If I'm looking at a used Sonata from those model years, how can I be sure its recall work was completed?
Visit www.safercar.gov and check your VIN to learn more.
How do I find my VIN?
It's typically etched into the bottom corner of the windshield on the driver's side and printed on a sticker in the doorjamb. Watch our video for more.