Korean automakers Hyundai and Kia are recalling 3.3 million used vehicles because they can catch fire while parked or while driving due to issues with the antilock brake system.
Hyundai models being recalled include sedans such as the Accent, Azera, Elantra, Genesis Coupe and Sonata along with the Tuscon SUV. Recalled Kia models include its Optima and Soul sedans and Sportage SUV. The affected vehicles are from the model years 2010 to 2019.
The antilock brake system in the vehicle could leak brake fluid and create an electrical short which could then increase the risk of an engine compartment fire, federal safety officials said. The automakers said an O-ring in the antilock brake motor shaft can lose sealing strength over time due to the presence of moisture, dirt and dissolved metals in the brake fluid, causing leaks.
Owners of these car models should park the vehicle outside and away from structures until repairs can be made, according to the recall announcement from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Hyundai reported 21 fires in the affected vehicles in the U.S., and another 22 "thermal incidents" including smoke, burning and melting of parts, according to recall documents. Kia reported 10 fires and melting incidents.
Dealers will replace the antilock brake fuse at no cost to owners. Kia said in documents that it will send notification letters to owners starting Nov. 14. For Hyundai the date is Nov. 21.
Hyundai said in a statement that owners can continue to drive the vehicles and that no crashes or injuries have been reported. Hyundai owners are advised to take their vehicle to a local dealership and have the brake system's module fuse replaced. Kia is still working on a fix for its models.
"Why not fix the problem"?
Michael Brooks, executive director of the nonprofit Center for Auto Safety, questioned why the automakers aren't fixing leak problems and why they are waiting so long to send notify owners. The remedy is replacing one fuse with another, but brake fluid can still leak, potentially causing a safety problem, Brooks said.
"Why not fix the problem?" he asked. "What you're not doing here is fixing the O-ring and the leak that's causing the problem in the first place. You're combatting a symptom or part of the problem without actually fixing the underlying design issue."
Brooks also questioned why NHTSA is allowing the companies to only replace a fuse, and why owners aren't being sent interim letters immediately warning them of a serious problem.
"You would think that you should be notifying those owners right now that they shouldn't be parking in their garages or their house could catch fire," he said.
Which models are being recalled?
The recalled vehicles are:
- 2012-2015 Accent
- 2012-2015 Azera
- 2011-2015 Elantra
- 2013-2015 Elantra Coupe
- 2014-2015 Equus
- 2011-2015 Genesis Coupe
- 2013-2015 Santa Fe
- 2013 Santa Fe Sport
- 2011-2015 Sonata HEV
- 2010-2013 Tucson
- 2015 Tucson Fuel Cell
- 2012-2015 Veloster
- 2010-2012 Veracruz
- 2014-2016 Cadenza
- 2011-2013 Forte/Forte Koup
- 2015-2017 K900
- 2010-2015 Optima
- 2011-2013 Optima Hybrid
- 2011-2017 Rio
- 2010 Rondo
- 2011-2014 Sorento
- 2011-2013 Soul
- 2010-2013 Sportage
The antilock brake recall comes one month after recall covers some 2023 and 2024 Hyundai Palisades, some 2023 Tucson, Sonata, Elantra and Konas as well as Kia's 2023 Soul, Sportage and Seltos.because an electronic controller in their oil pumps could overheat and cause a fire. That
Rise in thefts
Kia has also drawn unwanted attention this year over a surge in thefts linked to a TikTok challenge that urged people to hot-wire the vehicles using a screwdriver and a USB cable. The thefts have been linked to at least 14 reported crashes and eight fatalities, according to NHTSA. About 9 million vehicles have been impacted by the rash of thefts, including Hyundai Elantras and Sonatas as well as Kia Fortes and Souls.
The rise in thefts and accidents promptedto urge the federal government to recall millions of Kia and Hyundai vehicles. The automakers snubbed pleas for a recall and instead opted to provide free software updates aimed at thwarting thieves. Hyundai and Kia paid $200 million earlier this year to settle a class-action lawsuit from owners who had their vehicles stolen in the nationwide rash of car thefts.
—The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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