Toronto, Ontario — Body technicians would do well to keep an eye out the next time a 2012 or 2013 Kia Optima rolls into the shop, as a defect found in about 258,000 of the brand’s U.S.-made models could put drivers in even more danger, should they find themselves in a collision.
More than one-quarter million Kia Optimas have been linked to a defect that the U.S.’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) describes as follows: “The subject vehicles are equipped with headliner plates designed as part of the energy absorbing structure of the headliner. Under certain circumstances, the headliner plate(s) may detach from the headliner upon deployment of the side curtain airbag(s), increasing the risk of injury to an occupant.”
As it stands, the NHTSA suggests that the root of the issue stems from “potentially insufficient adhesive applied to the headliner plate(s).” The official recall report states that the affected models were produced at Kia’s Georgia manufacturing plant.
The automaker, more specifically their legal department, became aware of the defect after a product liability lawsuit was leveled against Kia where a driver alleged they were injured by a metal bracket during the deployment of the side curtain airbag in a 2012 Optima.
Upon inspection, Kia engineers found that the driver’s side headliner plate may have detached from the headliner during deployment of the side curtain airbag.
An internal investigation carried out by the automaker determined that its Georgia plant must be responsible for the defect, as Kia’s Optima manufacturing chain in Korea used a different adhesive from a different supplier from the period of 2011-2015.
Kia plans to send out recall letters to drivers on Sept. 26. Dealers have been instructed to add industrial-grade adhesive tape over the left and right headliner plates to further secure the plates to the headliner.
The manufacturer recall number is SC245 and the NHTSA recall number is 22V-560.