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Hyundai Santa Fe Air Bag Light



  • Safety issue!! Airbag sensor system is very inconsistent! With a person who weighs 120#, 5'4" it is constantly OFF/on.
    Our experience with Hyundai's HMA was not pleasing. He said the OCS system is operating correctly after our ride.
    "I told him after our ride I still felt like the OCS system was very inconsistent (watching Off sensor light on and off during our entire ride)". Having to sit just right with my feet positioned just so, purse in back seat, in seat before motor started etc. Had we of been notified all this before purchase....a choice would of been nice. This is all nonsense for me to constantly have to be concerned of my safety!!".


    We have been dealing with this problem since October 2008, in and out of the service department.
    If they say the system works properly then why are there so many other complaints from consumers about the air bags?
    Why were the Sonatas recalled and fixed with similar problem?
    Why does the air bag system seem to function when person (120#, 5'4") sits and drives in drivers seat? IS THERE ALSO A RISK THEN?
    Why are there serious injuries being reported if air bags are functioning properly in the Santa Fe's?
    Are we the consumer responsible for injury occurring to a passenger with us knowing our Santa Fe has a very SERIOUS SAFETY PROBLEM, THAT THE DEALERSHIP WON'T ADDRESS?
    Why weren't we told when we bought the new Santa Fe by the dealership, salesmen, service mgr. that there might be a problem with the computerized air bag system. PERSON OF120# WAS CERTAINLY APART OF THE PURCHASE.
    Why did the service people tell us they had recalibrated the system and we could come pick it was fixed. We never got off the lot and it failed?
    Why are there Santa fe owners out there driving daily that have the exact same safety problem and not aware of it?
    Hope to hear from other people and their solutions. We have notified BBB and Hyundai.
  • I agree with you wholeheartedly. We have had this problem with a person 5'5 and 140 lb, and have had it in and out of the dealership. They replaced the seat, changed some settings, yadda, yadda, yadda, but it still comes on sporadically. Hyundai gives us lots of excuses about why the light comes on - person is not sitting properly, etc. We are always told that they have to actually see it when you bring it in or be able to replicate it on their own. Those of us with this problem know that it occurs sporadically - can come off and on during the same car ride.

    One time we actually drove straight to the dealership with the light on, and, amazingly, it stayed on. They actually videotaped it so that the service department could document that it indeed was on with an adult sitting in the passenger seat, properly, in their terms. They then supposedly "fixed the problem." NOT!!!! The off light came back on 5 miles down the road. What a bunch of crap! We have been to 2 different dealerships and still have this problem - this has been going on for almost a year! Only 8,000 miles on the car now!

    120 lbs still too high of a setting for the passenger seat. There are plenty of small women and teenagers who are under this weight. It should be set more toward 90 lbs. I don't understand how a small person is too light for the passenger seat but apparently weighs enough to actually drive the car!

    How did they fix the Sonata? Why can't they do the same for the Santa Fe?

    There definitely needs to be a recall.

    Are there any lawyers out there who care to bring about a class action lawsuit? I think they could find plenty of clients right here on this site!


    As far as I am concerned the 10-year warranty is crap - what good is it if the problem never gets resolved?


    :mad: :mad: :mad: :mad:
  • your answer is the same as ours, why arent customers told of safety problem before purchase ? would we be libel knowing of this problem and some one injured? would we be libel selling santa fe and not telling buyer about air bag? we think the dealership alone is responsible for not telling us there might be a problem with air bag. one time we took it in to be recalibrated and never left lot and light came on and stayed on. sad thing is we have rode in santa fes that work and we have told santa fe owners of problem that have the problem and did not know it. some work and some dont.i for one dont like to be lied to about , what problem? yeah right!!!
  • I have a 2008 santa fe. Ihave taken the car in since the air bags red light stays on after I start it. The first time I took it in they thought they fixed it. The light stayed off for awhile. Several weeks later it came on again. I again took it back. They tell me it is the computer on the passenger side that is not working. I was told when that light is on all air bags are off. My dealer now has my car since they have to order the whole front seat. The computer is in the seat. They are on back order The dealer did give me a loaner. If you have a santa fe and the red light stays on or the off light near the clock is lit up it means you have no air bags and should go to the dealer. My dealer called the engineer in ca. and he was told that if the light is on you have on air bags.
  • on my last remark it should say if the light is on you have no air bags. the light near the clock will be off if no passenger.
  • mtgalmtgal Posts: 2
    We have the same issue in our 2008 Santa Fe. We noticed that if my legs are constantly holding pressure down on the front edge of the seat the light stays on. I am 150 lbs and 5' 7". If I stretch my legs out or sit forward, such as to take my arms out of a jacket, the sensor indicates OFF. Lifting up and sitting back down didn't trigger the sensor either. Then I squeezed the front right corner of the seat and the sensor comes back ON. We are going to bring it up to our dealer this week. I would have thought that they would have tested this issue as soon as it came to their attention. Does the bag still deploy if the light is off? Or, will it really deploy when light is on? Not something I want to find out the hard way.
  • flower6flower6 Posts: 7
    We were told by the dealer that if the airbag light is on the air bags will not deploy. If that is correct your airbags are not working. They did replace our front passenger seat. It was on back order so the dealer gave us a loaner for several days. We have it back now and the lights are working correctly. You need to get your in very soon since it does not look like you have any airbags. If the dealer gives you a problem about it tell him to call the engineers in Ca. They seem to know all about it.
  • mj3mj3 Posts: 1
    I also had a problem with my Air Bag light never turning off on my 2008 Hyundai Sante Fe. I bought the car used earlier this year from a dealership. After driving it for about a month (~17,000 miles total on the car), the air bag light started staying on continuously once the car was started (Note: this is with no one in the passenger seat). At first, it was intermittent - sometimes the light stayed on, sometimes not. There was no predictability to it, and weight shifts did not seem to matter. Afer a few days, this happened all the time. I took the car back to the dealership (in California), and they determined that the passenger seatbelt pre-tensioner was faulty. They replaced it, and I have not had the problem since. It's been only 2 weeks, though. They also told me that if the light is on, then the airbags will not deploy.

    Good luck to the rest of you with this problem on getting it resolved.
  • I have a 2008 Limited and with 17k on it. I'm also having the same issues with the passenger air light staying on while my wife (120lb) is in the seat. Dealer claims they re-programed the sensor, but also provided sitting in the passenger seat' best practices. If Hyundai can not correct this issue quickly, I may have to move on. I'm not willing to compromising safety.
  • np01np01 Posts: 17
    This has been a problem since day one. You'd probably find numerous posts regarding this. We have an '07 and Hyundai has been telling us the same thing for two years.
  • Note....I think everyone having a problem with their Santa Fe Hyundai (ours was a 2008) passenger side air bag light NEEDS TO READ THIS. We settled with Hyundai re purchasing our vehicle back in June 2009.
    We went through BBB auto line, lemon law...... the arbitrator ruled in our favor. It was alot of hassle and constant headache for sure. We had a choice of repurchase or another vehicle. We loved the Santa Fe and were very sad to part with it. Good Luck to all of you dealing with this unsafe problem. If we can be of help with more details let us know.
  • My wife and I purchased a new 2008 Santa Fe LTD this past April. We bought the 2008 because the 2009 were filling up the lots and we knew we could get a good deal.

    We like the vehicle but the passenger side air bag will not work for my wife when she is a passenger. She is 5' 2" and 125 lbs so I don't see how it is mistaking her for a child. THIS IS A MAJOR SAFETY ISSUE.

    We took the vehicle back to the dealer and the service adviser witnessed the airbag off light while my wife was sitting in the seat. The dealer kept it for a week checking the wiring and running test and did not fix the problem.

    When we went back to the dealer to pick up the car my wife sat in the seat and the technician had her hold a gallon of water and the airbag would still not engage for her. They suggested they might have to replace the seat.
    We were told to go home and we would get a call. The seat did seem to work when it was in the most upright position. This seat position also hurts my wife's neck because the head rest is tilted forward.

    This is where we hit a brick wall. The district rep for Hyundai told my wife there is nothing wrong with the car and the air bag is not malfunctioning and she will just have to ride around with the seat in the extreme upright position.

    Just think what a great vacation trip we're going to have since I do most of the driving.

    They actually said the car is reading her as a petite person and the airbag is off for her own safety. However, last week we test drove a 2009 Santa Fe LTD and the airbag worked perfectly no matter how much my wife reclined the seat. SO TELL ME HYUNDAI, WHICH SANTA FE IS DEFECTIVE?? THE ONE WHERE THE AIRBAG STAYS ON OR THE ONE WHERE THE AIRBAG SHUTS OFF !!!

    The dealer where we bought the Santa Fe is about 1.5 hours from home and we went to this dealer because they were the only one with a few 2008's on the lot.

    Believe it or not one of the Hyundai reps my wife talked to actually got snotty and asked her why we would buy a car so far from home.

    Gives new meaning the term Hyundai Assurance Program. Don't buy a Hyundai too far from home because I assure you, you will regret it.

    If anyone else is having this problem please respond and let me know.

  • We had the same problem. Our dealer called the techs in Ca. and they told them to replace the entire passengers seat they did that and we have had no problems. If they won't do that call the number of headquarters in Alabama. They should be able to do something. Have your dealer call Planet Hyundai in Golden Colorado they know all about it. We were told all airbags will not work unless you get the seat replaced. Good luck.
  • We have been dealing with this for a year. Just took our 2008 Santa Fe back to the dealership because the air bag light came on on the DRIVER'S SIDE and stayed on. I checked the Hyundai Manual that came with the car, and it said "routine service check." For an airbag light? Routine? Huh? Took it to the dealership to be addressed.

    I mentioned the problem with the passenger airbag. Passenger who sits in it is 5'5" 140 lb - obviously not a child. I got a loaner car and had to give them my driver's license which says 130 lb (well . . . maybe some day . . . )

    This light comes on when I am sitting in this seat haphazardly - no real rhyme or reason to it. Another dealership actually has video of it, but that has probably been "lost" by now . . . When I mentioned that the light comes on with my teenage daughter - 5'3" 115-120 lb, the man at the desk said that "90-125 is considered a small person" and may not be recognized as an adult. I argued the point that many adult women and the majority teenage girls are in this weight range.

    The next day, when I picked the car up, the weight range MAGICALLY changed to "100-130." Unreal! I am guessing they saw that weight on my license and used it to try to justify their position.

    Another person at the dealership said it was because the insurance industry is setting these standards. My reply was that no other auto manufacturers seem to be having this problem. (We also have 3 Toyota's. Their manuals actually state "90 lb" as the adult weight criteria. And we have NEVER had a problem with the passenger airbag.)

    The ironic thing is that if a small person sits behind the wheel of the car, the air bag is functional - and the air bag is actually closer to them and more dangerous than the passenger's airbag!!

    By the way, this vehicle has been in 4 times for this problem! The SEAT HAS BEEN CHANGED OUT and we still experience this problem.

    This time, they said there was "an error code coming from the passenger seat which triggered the driver's airbag light." They supposedly fixed this and said "maybe this will stop the passenger airbag problem." The driver's side airbag is no longer lit, but too soon to tell about the passenger airbag light. It still comes on for a while when we first drive, but then goes off. '

    The service person now mentioned a "grid in the seat" and so many areas have to be compressed in order for it to recognize an adult passenger. So, apparently, anyone under 130 lb needs to have "a big butt" in order for the grid to "acknowledge them as adults. LOL

    THIS IS A BAD, BAD, BAD DESIGN on Hyundai's part, and they are making their service people defend it!!! What a crock!!!

    P.S. - this car has 15,000 miles on it, we bought it new, and it has been in 4 times for the same thing!!!


  • My thanks to JBabbit on this forum for providing us a path to solving this problem (see Post #34). We were searching for a path to resolve this and didn't even think about the lemon law. We had this same air bag light problem with our 2007 Santa Fe, filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) AutoLine and Hyundai Motor America (HMA) *immediately* offered to either buy back the vehicle according to our state lemon law, or exchange the vehicle for another Santa Fe. Since HMA immediately came forward with an offer, BBB did not get involved, and there was no mediator or arbitration. HMA was easy to work with and the offer was fair (and in accordance with our state lemon law).

    In my opinion, this is the only solution to the problem. I think everyone on this forum understands that this is a defect for persons of slight build, cannot be retro-fixed and is unsafe. I believe HMA recognizes this, hence their prompt offer to us. My recommendation: file a complaint with the BBB autoline ( and see what happens. It worked for us. Good luck and God Bless.
  • tidestertidester Posts: 10,110
    Thanks, Shaemus! I love stories with good endings. :)

    tidester, host
    SUVs and Smart Shopper
  • Wow: I just picked up my 2007 Santa Fe with 25900 miles on it from the dealer because the airbag light came on and would not go off. The dealership had my vehicle for 3 days trying to fix the problem. The diagnosic machine came up with 9 different codes. The light was off when I picked up the vehicle. Will keep my finger crossed. I find the comments very interesting since I am 5'0" and weigh about 115 lbs. Thank you for leaving your comments.
  • Could not agree more! Struggled with this problem on our 2005 Santa Fe since new. Wife weighs around 125. Light is sometimes on and sometimes off. Received a recall pertaining to this problem within a year of purchase. Recall called for resetting the algorithm that runs when the engine is started--at least that is what the service rep said.

    Returned a 2nd time when this did not correct the intermittent problem. They said everything was working properly. They pointed out that the owner's manual calls for all passengers to be seated before" the engine is started, since that is when the sensing algorithm runs. This is certainly bad design logic. We all have passengers unboard and board while the engine is running. We surely do not turn the engine off each time these boarding events occur.

    However, being a professional engineer, I conducted my own test. Sure enough, each time I noticed the light being "off" when my wife was in the passenger seat I pulled over to the side of the road, turned the engine off and restarted. The light went out every time!

    Intermittent problems with safety systems are, in my opinion, the worst kind. Given this is integral to the design, I firmly believe the design is faulty. And worse, there is nothing Hyundai service reps can do to remedy the problem.

    We have just lived with this hassle, but are now in the market for a new replacement vehicle. Love our Santa Fe, but very unhappy with this experience. Had planned to buy another Hyundai because of good warranty and an otherwise positive ownership experience, but we are now having second thoughts.
    :mad: :lemon:
  • Anyone experienced this problem, new to my Santa Fe?

    The red "Air Bag" warning light came on in driver instrument cluster. Took to dealer service. For a pre-approved fee of $95, they ran a diagnosis using their shop diagnostic equipment. The machine told them the stored "error code" indicated a failed sensor in the front passenger seat belt buckle. Their recommended solution was to replace the seat buckle assemble at a cost of $300 parts + $100 labor. The entire air bag system was disabled until the failed sensor was fixed. Dumb design!

    Mechanically, the seat belt buckle was working properly--securely and safely. Yet its internal sensor (for what purpose I have no idea) was not working; therefore the entire air bag system was being prevented from functioning, even though there was nothing wrong with it either.

    The service rep could not explain to me the logic behind seat belts with sensors being tied into the air bag system. These should be totally redundant safety systems--seat belts are the primary restraint system and air bags are the secondary system.

    The service tech did not check the seat belt assembly. Instead, they recorded the error code found on my ticket and waited to see if I wanted them to do the part-swap for $400. I said "No", paid the $95 diagnostic fee and drove my Santa Fe home. I now plan to do some of my own testing and trouble-shhoting, starting with removal and cleaning of the seat buckle assembly.

    Can anyone suggest a source for info on operating logic of the entire seat belt/air bag system? Is the sensor circuit in the buckle normally open or closed? Is it supposed to change when the belt is buckled? Is there a way to by-pass this worthless sensor?

    Thanks. :mad: :confuse:
  • Hi Edmunds Townhall,

    I posted the original post in October 2007 and followed it up a year later with an update. This serves as yet another update about 2 years later. In the interim period, we experienced relatively few instances of our 2007 Hyundai Santa Fe's passenger side air bag light illuminating OFF on the dashboard when my wife was riding as passenger. I wanted to like this vehicle and really hoped that the problem was mostly behind us. In those instances when we were riding together and it did illuminate, I would trade places with her. I purchased this car for its safety features and bought into the alleged Hyundai commitment to quality and safety. But always in the back of my mind was an unease with concerns about the functionality of the passenger air bag in the event of a possible crash. Surely Hyundai would issue a recall or TSB to correct the problem as it had done for the Sonata? But no, I/we continue to wait for resolution. Now, the problem has resurfaced with increasing frequency over the last few months. There have been no significant changes to my wife's height or weight. Tonight, we went out for dinner and the air bag sensor OFF light illuminated. No matter what my wife did - sliding the seat on the track forward and back - no change. Repositioning the seatback's recline position - no change. Repositioning herself on the seat - no change. Unclicking the seat belt and reclicking it secure - no change. Pulling over and having my wife exit the vehicle and then re-seat herself - no change. Turning the engine off, exiting the vehicle and restarting it once she was reseated - no change. I find myself wondering why no recall or related TSB has been issued. I simply can't stand it anymore. It is extremely stressful. I am going to communicate with Hyundai in the next few days. Call me optimistic or foolish, but I fully expect Hyundai to stand behind their product and resolve this issue. This issue is core to my purchasing values that unless this vehicle deficiency is satisfactorily resolved, I can't recommend purchasing a Hyundai nor would I ever buy another one. Safety is not negotiable. I will keep this forum advised on my outcome.
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