— Kia Spectra airbag sensor problems that cause airbag lights to stay on will be fixed as Kia has agreed to extend the Spectra warranty. The warranty will apply to 2007-2009 Kia Spectra cars for repairs to the front passenger occupant classification system (OCS) sensor mat.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) opened an investigation in September 2015 after complaints about airbag warning lights illuminating due to a malfunction of the occupant classification system sensor mat located in the passenger seat. Dealers checking for diagnostic trouble codes see "B1448," a trouble code that relates to the sensor mat.
The sensor mat is installed in the front passenger seat cushion for the purpose of detecting child seats and small occupants. If the sensor mat fails, the warning light will illuminate and the airbag can deploy even if a small child is in the seat.
NHTSA says its investigation focused on failures of the OCS sensor mat. If owners complained only of an illuminated airbag warning light, NHTSA skipped those reports because airbag warning lights can illuminate for reasons unrelated to the sensor mat.
Kia says an open circuit in the sensor mat can cause the system to fail based on the sensor mat cracking during use of the seat. The automaker blamed owner abuse for the sensor mat failures based on the cars being on the roads an average of eight years.
The Kia Spectra warranty will be extended to replace the OCS sensor mat for free for a period of 15 years regardless of mileage. The automaker will mail letters to owners with information about the problem as well as the extended warranty.
If the airbag warning light is on, an owner can get the vehicle diagnosed and if a problem is detected, the sensor mat will be repaired.
NHTSA says the original investigation is closed based on a low rate of complaints and the extended warranty offered by Kia.