Really...Cars Shouldn't Catch on Fire
Continuing on in the category of "obviously...", two recent recalls by Kia and Hyundai concern more possible car fires in a number of vehicles.
Hyundai's ABS Fluid Leaks May Cause Engine Fires
On September 22, 2023, Hyundai Motor America filed a defect report with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration ("NHTSA") acknowledging an issue (and issuing a safety recall) with the Anti-Lock Brake System ("ABS") that may cause an engine compartment fire. The affected vehicles (totaling 1.6 million cars) include some of the following:
2012-2015 Hyundai Accent
2012-2015 Hyundai Azera
2011-2015 Hyundai Elantra & 2013-2015 Hyundai Elantra Coupe
2014-2015 Hyundai Equus
2011-2015 Hyundai Genesis Coupe
2013-2015 Hyundai Santa Fe & 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport
2010-2013 Hyundai Tuscon & 2015 Hyundai Tuscon Fuel Cell
2011-2015 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid
2012-2015 Hyundai Veloster
2010-2012 Hyundai Veracruz
According to the submitted documents, Hyundai believes that certain component parts of the ABS module may degrade and cause internal brake fluid leaks, causing an electrical short which can result in an overcurrent condition and increase the risk of an engine compartment fire while parked or driving. Observable symptoms of this concern may include activation of the Malfunction Indicator Light ("MIL") and/or ABS warning light, smoke from the engine compartment, or a burning/melting odor.
Hyundai explained to the NHTSA that it would attempt to "fix" this issue by replacing the ABS fuse with a different one rated at a lower amperage (to limit the operating current of the ABS module). Essentially, Hyundai is trying to fix a leaking shower head by lowering the water pressure (instead of replacing the shower head itself).
Additionally, Hyundai would recommend to owners to park their cars outside and away from structures until the recall is performed.
Kia's Similar Woes
Just a few days later on September 25, 2023, Kia America, Inc. filed its own defect report with the NHTSA acknowledging an issue (and issuing a safety recall) with its braking system control unit--the called the Hydraulic Electronic Control Unit ("HECU")--that may increase the risk of an engine compartment fire. The affected vehicles (totaling 1.7 million cars) include some of the following:
2010-2019 Kia Borrego
2014-2016 Kia Cadenza
2010-2013 Kia Forte & Forte Koup
2015-2018 Kia K900
2011-2015 Kia Optima (from the Hwasung manufacturing plant)
2012-2013 Kia Optima (from the Georgia manufacturing plant)
2011-2013 Kia Optima Hybrid
2012-2017 Kia Rio
2011-2014 Kia Sorento
2011-2013 Kia Soul
2010-2013 Kia Sportage
2010-2011 Kia Rondo
According to the submitted documents, Kia believes the "HECU experiences an electrical short circuit condition that results in excessive current, thereby increasing the risk of an engine compartment fire while driving or parked." Kia confirmed in its submission that it did not know the exact cause of the electrical short circuit.
Coincidentally, the submitted documents reveal Kia began "investigating" this recall issue in July 2023; after a separate class action lawsuit (also concerning the HECU in other model years of the some of the above-listed cars) had settled in May 2023.
Notwithstanding these issues, Kia told the NHTSA that it would attempt to "fix" the issue by installing a new fuse (intended to prevent an overcurrent condition but not exactly addressing the cause of the electrical short circuit) and would recommend to owners to park their cars outside and away from structures until the recall is performed.
Long story short: park your Hyundai or Kia outside in an empty parking lot because there's something wrong with it but the car markers doesn't exactly know what...
If you are an owner or lessee of one of the affected vehicles, and have taken it to Hyundai's or Kia's dealer several times with similar concerns, give us a call to see whether your car may be a lemon (and entitle you to a refund of the money you paid for the car). Contact us for a free consultation and see whether you're entitled to relief under the lemon law.