More Hyundai/Kia Fire Recalls Related to ABS Controller
Hyundai and Kia are recalling nearly 200,000 vehicles in the United States over a potential short in the antilock brake system of select models. Problem vehicles include around 180,000 examples of the 2019-21 model year Hyundai Tucson and roughly 9,000 Kia Stingers from 2019.
Based on the recall information provided by the manufacturers, around six Stingers have caught fire over the issue. Regulators have confirmed that the issue lies in the ABS control module and that combustion is still possible when the vehicle has been shut down. That has led us to believe this might be related to an earlier recall involving 283,803 Kia Optima sedans (MY 2013-15), 156,567 Kia Sorento crossovers (2014-15), and 151,205 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport crossovers (2013-15). Each of those models ran the risk of brake fluid seeping out onto the hydraulic electronic control unit and causing a fire.
While the latest batch of recalls had fires that occurred while the vehicle was running, Hyundai Motor Group has made it abundantly clear that danger persists even when the ignition is off. It’s recommending customers store their vehicles outdoors until repairs have been completed.
Despite having so much in common, the manufacture has also been adamant that the ABS recalls are completely unrelated. “The two recalls are for the ABS module but are for different issues,” Hyundai spokesman Michael Stewart informed Automotive News this week.
The Tucson recall “is to address a potentially defective circuit board in the ABS brake hydraulic electronic control unit. This can result in internal corrosion and cause an electrical short over time,” he said. “The Santa Fe Sport recall identified an issue of internal brake fluid leaking within the ABS module.”
Stewart cautioned that owners of the Tucson and Santa Fe vehicles should park them outside until the recall repair is completed.
“If the ABS warning light is illuminated, the vehicle should not be driven, a local Hyundai dealer should be contacted, and customers should disconnect the vehicle’s 12-volt battery and leave it disconnected while the vehicle is parked waiting for service,” he said, adding that, if needed, owners will be provided a rental vehicle.
Related or not, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) launched an investigation in April of 2019 after it claimed to have received an unpleasantly large number of fire complaints from customers. Hyundai also recalled nearly 430,000 in February over (you guessed it) an issue with the ABS controller that ran the risk of starting a fire. That one involved various Elantra models and water getting into places it wasn’t supposed to, rather than the usual brake fluid seepage.
It’s certainly suspicious and there’s a months-long history lesson we could give about all the times automakers tried to save a few bucks on a part only to see it blow up in their faces (sometimes literally). But we can’t accuse Hyundai Group of anything without knowing a lot more about what happened, which means waiting on the NHTSA to see how its investigation went. Hyundai and Kia will be conducting their own internal probes into non-crash fires as well. Supplier Mando America Corp will also be asked for quality assurance data to help determine if there’s any correlation between production changes on the problematic parts and the model years of cars that keep catching fire.
Dealers will replace the units in the latest recall free of charge and customers should receive their notifications in the mail at the end of October.