Nearly 3.4 million Hyundai and Kia vehicles in the United States are being recalled and owners are being advised to park their vehicles outside of the vehicle due to the potential risk of an engine compartment fire.
According to documents published Wednesday by U.S. Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the antilock brake control module may leak fluid and create an electrical short that can ignite a fire while the vehicle is parked or being driven.
Dealers will repair the antialiored brake fuse free of charge to owners. In documents, Kia says it will send out notifications to owners beginning November 14, while Hyundai says the date is November 21.
Hyundai reports 21 fires in affected vehicles across the United States, as well as 22 “thermal incidents” including smoke inhalation, burning and parts melting, according to the documents. Kia reports 10 fires and meltdowns.
Hyundai says owners can drive their vehicles again, and that there have been no reports of crashes or injuries. The company said it is doing the recall “to ensure the safety of our customers.”
According to the company’s statement, the leak was caused by a weakened O-ring on the brake motor shaft. Over time, moisture, dirt, and dissolved metals can erode the seal, leading to leaks. The company said a new fuse would limit the brake module’s operating current.
According to Kia’s statement, an electrical short caused an excessive current in the engine compartment, leading to an electrical fire. The company said the exact cause was unknown and there were no injuries or crashes.
Center for Auto Safety executive director, Michael Brooks, asked why the companies were taking so long to fix the leak problem. The remedy is to replace one fuse but brake fluid leaks can still occur, potentially creating a safety issue. “Why don’t you fix the problem first?” Brooks said. “You’re giving lip service to a symptom or a part of a problem without actually addressing the root cause.”