South Korean carmakers Hyundai and Kia are recalling roughly 3.7 million vehicles in the US and advising owners to park them outside, due to the possibility of engine compartment fires on Thursday.
Numerous automobile and SUV models from the 2010 to 2019 model years are included in the recalls, including the Santa Fe SUV from Hyundai and the Sorrento SUV from Kia.
The anti-lock brake control module, according to documents published on Wednesday by the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, can leak fluid and result in an electrical short, both of which can start a fire while the cars are being driven or parked.
As long as repairs are pending, the automakers advise owners to park outside and away from buildings.
Owners will not be charged to have the anti-lock brake fuse replaced by dealers. According to the paperwork, Kia will begin notifying owners of changes on November 14, while Hyundai will inform them on November 21.
Hyundai reported 21 fires in the affected vehicles in the US, and another 22 “thermal incidents” including smoke, burning, and melting of parts, the documents say.
On the other hand, Kia reported 10 fires and melting incidents.
In a statement, Hyundai claimed that owners can keep operating the cars and that no accidents or injuries have been reported. The carmaker claimed that the recall was being carried out to guarantee customer safety.
The manufacturer said that with time, due to the presence of moisture, debris, and dissolved metals in the brake fluid, an O-ring in the antilock brake motor shaft can lose its ability to seal, leading to leaks.
According to the statement, the new fuse regulates the braking module's operational current.
In a statement, Kia warned that an electrical short that generates too much electricity might cause an engine compartment fire near the brake control unit.
The short circuit's precise source is unknown and there have been no crashes or injuries.
The nonprofit Centre for Auto Safety's executive director, Michael Brooks, questioned the firms about why they haven't fixed the leak issue and why they're taking so long to 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.
Both companies' statements don't explain why the fluid leaks aren't being fixed or why owners won't receive a letter of notification for roughly two months. However. both firms' spokespeople stated they would look into the queries.
According to NHTSA, automakers have a choice as to how to rectify a flaw under the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Act. According to the government, it will keep an eye on how well the fixes are working and, if necessary, launch an investigation.
In addition, automakers have 60 days to deliver notices to owners of recalled vehicles, but the EPA noted that mailings sometimes take place sooner.
Additionally, the NHTSA published a statement on Wednesday advising owners to leave their cars outside while they are getting repairs.
Since 2015, fire issues have plagued Hyundai and Kia. The Centre for Auto Safety successfully petitioned US regulators to request recalls in 2018 and reports on its website that, excluding the recalls announced on Wednesday, automakers had recalled more than 9.2 million vehicles for fires and engine issues.
Over 20 vehicles from the model years 2006 through 2021 were involved in more than two dozen recalls.
NHTSA is also looking into 3 million vehicles produced by the automakers between the 2011 and 2016 model years. According to NHTSA, 161 engine fire reports have been filed, some of which involved recalled vehicles.
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