A recent recall campaign covers 2014 Kia Soul hatchbacks, and specifically their air bag control unit (ACU).
Kia is currently recalling 128,280 Kia Souls because their front airbags may not deploy in an accident. This is a separate from another campaign earlier this year, targeting 410,000 cars for a similar issue including the 2017-2019 Soul and Soul EV, 2017-2019 Sedona, the 2017 Forte Koup and the 2017-2018 Forte.
According to documents submitted to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the issue specific to 2014 Soul models is not with the airbags themselves, but with impact sensors. In the event of a crash, both driver and passenger-side sensors may lose communication with the Air Bag Control Unit (ACU), and as such the airbags will not deploy, increasing the risk of injury.
The problem covers cars built between July 21, 2023 and June 20, 2014. Kia cites the simultaneous loss of communications between both sensors and the ACU a rare occurrence. In its chronology documenting a lawsuit brought against the automaker for this issue, Kia conceded through simulation test that it is possible, however unlikely. The company was not able to recreate the issue through real-world crash testing, and the one incident is the only known case globally, per the NHTSA documents.
How Kia intends to fix the issue
Kia says it will conduct a safety recall as a precautionary measure. In doing so, it will notify 2014 Soul owners beginning April 15, 2022. Dealers will update the software to enable deployment even when the impact sensors lose communication with the ACU. If you have a Soul and want to see if you’re affected by either this campaign or the earlier airbag recall, you can plug your 17-character VIN into the NHTSA’s website, or Kia’s own recall portal.
You can also call Kia Consumer Affairs at (800) 333-4542. Kia’s identifier for the recall is SC229, and the NHTSA’s campaign number is 22V096.
Kias built after 2015 (including the new-generation model) have different ACU deployment logic.