Korean automaker Hyundai and its sister company Kia have recalled 3.37 million cars built between 2010 and 2017 for risk of an engine bay fire. The vehicles’ anti-lock braking systems may leak fluid internally, leading to an electrical short in the cars’ Hydraulic Electronic Control Units. This short has resulted in “21 fires and 21 other thermal incidents” in Hyundai vehicles, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and a handful of similar incidents in Kia models.
Owners of the affected vehicles—a huge variety of different cars—are instructed to park their vehicles outside and away from structures until the issue can be fixed. A press release from the NHTSA details the entire list of affected vehicles. I would normally refrain from posting an explicit list in the interest of readability, but it’s a massive number of models in this case. For Hyundai, the rundown reads as follows:
2013-2015 Elantra Coupe
2011-2015 Genesis Coupe
2013-2015 Santa Fe
2013 Santa Fe Sport
2011-2015 Sonata HEV
2015 Tucson Fuel Cell
And from Kia:
2011-2013 Forte/Forte Koup
2011-2013 Optima Hybrid
The remedy in Hyundai’s case is a replacement of the ABS module fuse. Kia has yet to issue a fix, although it will likely be very similar, if not identical. No injuries or fatalities have been reported as a result of any of the fires.
These incidents can occur whether the vehicle’s ignition is switched on or off, and therefore can happen at any time. Hyundai owners will receive notices in the mail in November telling them when they can take their vehicles in to be fixed.
Hyundai and Kia vehicles have been recalled in the past several times for fire risk. In 2018, 88,000 Hyundai Azeras and Sonatas were recalled for a very similar issue, where water leaking into the ABS control module could cause a fire. More recently, 567,000 minivans and SUVs were likewise recalled for fire risk due to moisture leaking into towing harnesses. Those are two we’ve covered here at The Drive, but there have been other recent incidents as well, not to mention non-fire risk recalls related to faulty engines, brake lights, and transmissions.
Needless to say, the Korean automaker is still fighting nagging quality issues despite an effort to move upmarket, with more premium models like the Palisade and Telluride, as well as the spin-off of the Genesis brand. The most visible instance of this was its failure to install immobilizers in many of its vehicles until 2021. As a result, there have been widespread thefts of Hyundais and Kias in several major metropolitan areas. Many of the cars—at least those with physical ignitions—can be stolen with a USB cable, which has caused headaches not only for the company, but owners and insurers as well. It’s a complete mess.
To easily check if your Hyundai or Kia is affected by this latest recall, you can enter your car’s VIN on the NHTSA’s website. Independent of checking, however, owners will eventually receive letters instructing them on the next steps to address the problem.
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