U.S. auto safety regulators have initiated an investigation into 16 separate recalls issued by Hyundai and Kia, affecting a total of 6.4 million vehicles. The recalls are related to brake fluid leaks that pose a potential fire risk. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced on Monday that it was launching an audit query to assess the timeliness of the Korean automakers’ decision-making regarding the identified defects and to evaluate their adherence to reporting requirements.
The recalls, spanning from 2016 onwards, primarily focus on issues with the antilock braking system and Hydraulic Electronic Control Units (HECU), both supplied by the same parts manufacturer. The NHTSA aims to understand the varying defect descriptions and remedies provided in the multiple recalls.
As of now, Hyundai and Kia have not responded to requests for comments on the ongoing investigation. In September, the automakers recalled a combined total of 3.37 million vehicles in the United States due to the risk of engine fires. Owners were advised to park their vehicles outside and away from structures until repairs were completed.
The identified problem revolves around internal brake fluid leaks, which can lead to an electrical short, subsequently increasing the risk of a fire. Hyundai reported 21 fires and 21 other thermal incidents since 2017, while Kia acknowledged at least 10 confirmed fires and melting incidents. Kia specifically pointed to the Hydraulic Electronic Control Unit (HECU) as the source of potential electrical shorts due to brake fluid leaks, whereas Hyundai attributed the issue to the Anti-Lock Brake System (ABS) module leaking brake fluid internally and causing electrical shorts.
The September recalls covered a wide range of models from both manufacturers, including Kia Borrego, Cadenza, Forte, Sportage, K900, Optima, Soul Rio, Sorento, and Rondo, with model years ranging from 2010 through 2017. Hyundai’s recall included models such as Elantra, Genesis Coupe, Sonata Hybrid, Accent, Azera, Veloster, Santa Fe, Equus, Veracruz, Tucson, Tucson Fuel Cell, and Santa Fe Sport, spanning various model years from 2011 through 2015. The investigation by safety regulators underscores the importance of addressing potential safety issues promptly and comprehensively to ensure the well-being of consumers and prevent further incidents.