At best, car recalls are a nuisance — you have to schedule time for a repair, take your car back to the dealership and entrust that they’re fixing the issue before it causes any major problems. But at worst, car recalls can be deadly. Especially when the recall is for a major mechanical component or safety feature. And this is the case in the latest Kia airbag recall, announced by the South Korean manufacturer in early June.
Over 500,000 vehicles were affected by the recall, including three different models manufactured from 2010 to 2013: the Kia Forte manufactured between 2010 and 2013, the Optima manufactured from 2011 to 2013, Optima Hybrids from 2011 to 2012, and some Sedona Minivans.
This airbag recall is likely tied to the fact that airbags in some of these models may not deploy in the event of a crash. One cause of this could be an airbag control unit (ACU) that can short circuit over time, causing the airbags not to work as they’re intended. According to Kia, over time the ACU is prone to electrical overstress — which results in the frontal airbags and seatbelt pre-tensioners not deploying when they’re needed. Making this a potentially deadly problem in the event of a crash.
The Kia airbag recall came about because of an investigation conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). In March of this year, the NHTSA was notified of six crashes involving faulty airbags that didn’t deploy, resulting in four deaths.
At this time, individual drivers have not been notified of the airbag recall, because Kia doesn’t currently have a solution to the airbag problem. They are in talks with the German auto supplier of the faulty parts in order to find the best solution, at which point car owners will be notified and given an opportunity to have their vehicles repaired.
Kia Recall – Months After The Hyundai Airbag Recall
The recent Kia recall comes just months after the Hyundai airbag recall that was announced earlier this year. In February, Hyundai recalled over 150,000 Sonatas manufactured in 2011 because of a similar issue — the control unit was preventing seat belts from tightening and airbags from deploying during a crash.
A few weeks after the recall began, Hyundai expanded their airbag recall to include closer to 600,000 Sonatas that were affected by the faulty units, broadening the manufacturing years to include 2011 to 2013. At least four accidents and two deaths were linked to the faulty ACU in these vehicles.
Between the Fiat Chrysler recall back in 2016 and the more recent Takata recalls, faulty airbags have been seen in the news again and again. And deadly recalls like this are serious business for car manufacturers. Driver and passenger safety is of the utmost importance, which is why the NHTSA often gets involved to investigate crashes that appear to be linked in order to increase safety for everyone on the road. And this is leading to more recalls than ever before.
But how does a vehicle recall affect your hopes of pursuing a lemon law claim?
California Lemon Law and the Kia Airbag Recall
What does a recall mean if you are trying to pursue a lemon law case against a manufacturer? For starters, having a lemon and having a recalled car are two completely different things. So if your car has a recall that’s been issued for it, it’s likely your car won’t qualify as a lemon.
If your car has been recalled by the manufacturer or dealer, then chances are, you won’t even be aware your car has any kind of problem at all. Like in the Kia and Hyundai airbag recalls above — drivers of those vehicles would have had no way of knowing the ACU could malfunction during a crash. For the most part, recalls span across large groups of specific vehicles that were made over a certain time frame with the same faulty parts.
When a recall has been issued, you should be able to have your vehicle repaired at the dealership at no cost to you. And after it’s repaired, you shouldn’t have any further issues with your car. If this is the case, you will not have a legitimate lemon law claim. But if the manufacturer cannot fix the problem, then you could be entitled to compensation under the California lemon law.
On the other hand, a lemon car is one that has a defect the manufacturer has not been able to repair, even after several attempts. Therefore, just having a recall issued for your vehicle is not enough to pursue a lemon law claim — the car has to meet a fairly strict set of criteria before you have a case.
Call Shainfeld Law for Your Lemon Law Case
If you think you may have a legitimate lemon law case, give us a call at Shainfeld Law. We’re experts when it comes to California lemon law — we know the ins and outs of the law, including all the requirements you have to meet in order for your vehicle to be deemed a lemon.
If you suspect your car may be a lemon, we can help you get a more concrete answer. We offer prospective clients a free lemon law consultation, where we will get to know your unique case and help you determine whether or not your car is a lemon. Once we understand what type of defect your car is suffering from, how many times you tried to have it repaired, and what your car’s manufacturer has said regarding your vehicle, we’ll be better equipped to help you win your lemon law case.
At Shainfeld Law, we have over a decade of experience in winning lemon law cases in the state of California. We’re here to help you get the compensation you deserve, whether that’s a new car or a cash settlement. Browse our website for helpful lemon law resources, and then give us a call when you’re ready to start your case.