Pre-recall Alert: Airbags, steering and brake issues


A ConsumerAffairs analysis shows Kia drew the most complaints

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is pushing an airbag manufacturer to recall 52 million inflators because the agency says they could explode. The manufacturer, ARC, has so far refused to issue a recall.

NHTSA said it has received reports of seven injuries from exploding airbag inflators and two deaths, one in the U.S. and the other in Canada.

The safety regulator analyzes thousands of consumer complaints before it requests a recall, and a ConsumerAffairs analysis of NHTSA’s complaint database shows there were numerous airbag complaints in August.

Owners of several models, including the Chevrolet Traverse, GMC Acadia, Buick Enclave, and Volkswagen Atlas have reported airbag issues. The common problem is the unavailability of parts needed for recall repairs, leading to safety concerns.

Kia drew the most complaints last month – 51 – compared to 36 for Nissan, which was second in the complaint department. Some of the complaints centered on engine and cooling system defects in the 2017 Kia Sorento.

Outright engine failure

The complaints ranged from overheating to outright engine failure. But other brands drew similar complaints, including the 2017 Dodge Charger, 2020 Toyota RAV4, and 2014-2018 Ram 1500.

The most common safety defect reported by Kia owners was excessive oil consumption in various Kia models from 2016 to 2023. The defect has been reported in multiple models including the Kia Sedona, Forte, Soul, Sorento, and Optima.

There were steering and brake problems reported for the 2014 Ford Focus, 2017 Hyundai Elantra, and 2022 Honda Civic. Owners of those vehicles reported issues with power steering failure, making the steering wheel difficult to turn and posing a significant safety risk. 

At the same time, owners of the 2010 Lincoln MKZ and 2019 and 2020 Nissan Sentra models reported brake-related issues, affecting the vehicle's ability to stop or slow down.

Electrical issues

 Another common theme in the August complaints related to various vehicles’ electrical systems, including problems with the vehicle's battery, alternator, and electrical wiring. A common theme across multiple car brands including Chevrolet, GMC, Volkswagen, Buick, and Ram is the unavailability of parts for recall repairs.

The top five makes and models drawing complaints last month are:


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