Hyundai, Kia Recall 3.4 Million Cars That May Pose Urgent Fire Risk

(Images: Kia, unless otherwise noted)

Impacted Hyundai and Kia owners are urged to park their cars outside, where possible.

The two automakers issued recall campaigns covering a wide range of models throughout their lineup over the past decade. In total, nearly 3.4 million vehicles could have defective hydraulic components that could leak, cause an electrical short and start a fire.

According to documents filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Hyundai’s recall (23V-651) covers 1,730,192 cars built between 2009 and 2014.

Kia’s recall (23V-652) includes 1,642,551 vehicles ranging between model years 2010 and 2015. Both companies estimate that 1% of these 3.4 million vehicles actually have an issue, but they strongly advise all affected owners to park their vehicles outside and away from other vehicles and structures until they get into the dealership for repair.

Hyundai vehicles impacted under recall 23V-651:

Model (Years)# of units affectedBuild dates
Accent (2012-2015)240,589March 5, 2011 to October 31, 2014
Azera (2012-2015)29,232November 29, 2011 to October 31,2014
Elantra (2011-2015)777,145October 29, 2010 to November 13, 2014
Elantra Coupe (2013-2015)22,381March 16, 2012 to October 30, 2014
Equus (2014-2015)6,013April 12, 2013 to October 29, 2014
Genesis Coupe (2011-2015)51,789September 1, 2010 to October 31, 2014
Santa Fe (2013-2015)45,322October 17, 2012 to October 31, 2014
Santa Fe Sport (2013)75,554July 12, 2012 to June 15, 2013
Tucson (2010-2013)170,402December 8, 2009 to August 9, 2012
Tucson Fuel Cell (2015)60April 28, 2014 to October 23, 2014
Sonata Hybrid (2011-2015)83,213December 2, 2010 to October 31, 2014
Veloster (2012-2015)116,911July 2, 2011 to October 31, 2014
Veracruz (2010-2012)23,840December 24, 2009 to August 9, 2012

Hyundai told the NHTSA that this recall centers around the ABS module. According to the defect report, affected modules “can leak brake fluid internally and cause an electrical short over time. An electrical short could result in significant overcurrent in the ABS module increasing the risk of an engine compartment fire while parked or driving.” Owners may notice smoke from the engine compartment, a burning or melting odor or an illumination of the ABS light in the gauge cluster.

As for why the issue can take this long to manifest itself: “Certain ABS motor shaft O-ring material formulations may be susceptible to physical changes over time due to varying factors, including vehicle ABS specifications or the presence of foreign contaminants in the brake fluid.”

Kia vehicles impacted under recall 23V-652:

Model (Years)# of units affectedBuild dates
Borrego (2010-2019)62 (only sold in U.S. territories)November 27, 2009 to June 14, 2018
Cadenza (2014-2016)30,362February 1, 2013 to January 7, 2016
Forte/Forte Koup (2010-2013)179,051August 18, 2010 to March 22, 2013
K900 (2015-2018)5,015December 18, 2013
Optima (built in South Korea; 2011-2015)148,753August 12, 2010 to July 23, 2015
Optima (built in Georgia, USA; 2012-2013)234,629August 12, 2011 to July 11, 2013
Optima Hybrid (2011-2013)21,891February 15, 2011 to December 12, 2013
Rio (2012-2017)207,746June 21, 2011 to March 31, 2017
Sorento397,163March 3, 2010 to June 14, 2013
Soul143,615May 26, 2009 to October 7, 2013
Rondo1,484 (sold in U.S.)September 19, 2009 to July 30, 2010
Rondo112 (only sold in U.S. territories)July 21, 2010 to February 9, 2011

Kia’s report to the NHTSA says their cars’ Hydraulic Electronic Control Unit (HECU) “experiences an electrical short-circuit condition that results in excessive current.” Again, owners may experience a burning or melting smell, smoke from the engine compartment or a check engine/ABS light in the gauge cluster.

Both companies say they will begin notifying owners about the problem in November 2023. Owners will need to take their cars to their local dealer for a fix, where technicians will replace the ABS fuses with a lower amperage fuse to limit the current of the ABS module to inhibit a fire, even if the O-rings leak. The automakers’ ABS motor shaft O-ring supplier changed the material formulation between late 2014 and early 2015 in its South Korean and U.S manufacturing plants.

Owners can check Hyundai’s recall website, Kia’s recall website or the NHTSA website for more information.