WASHINGTON – Hyundai-Kia America Technical Center might recall 14,728 2011-2012 model-year Hyundai Sonata Hybrid vehicles because the center rear seat belt in these vehicles fails to meet all applicable federal safety standards, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported. However, the full recall is still in question because the automaker plans to request an exemption, arguing that the noncompliance is inconsequential and doesn’t compromise passenger safety in any way.

In these vehicles, the rear seat belt incorporates a release mechanism that detaches both the lap and shoulder portion at the lower anchorage point. 

According to NHTSA, more than 1,600 of the vehicles are still in dealer inventory. In these cars, the center rear seat belts will be replaced with ones that aren’t detachable from the lower anchorage point. 

NHTSA will decide whether to grant the exemption on the remaining vehicles that have already been sold from dealerships. If the agency denies Hyundai-Kia’s exemption request, the automaker will be required to notify affected Sonata Hybrid owners of the recall, and dealers will replace the seat belts free of charge.