If you own a car made by Hyundai Motors or Kia, it's critical that you avoid parking it in your garage due to a fire risk. More than 700,000 Hyundai Elantras and Santa Fes, as well as Kia Sedonas and Sorrentos, have been recalled, according to News 6.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) was notified of the defect by Hyundai and Kia in February 2020. A defective module in the anti-lock brake system (ABS) was identified as the cause of the car fires. The module could short-circuit when exposed to moisture, causing combustion, even when the car is parked and shut off.
Hyundai addresses rare, but serious, car fire risk
One case happened in central Florida. A resident purchased a 2008 Hyundai Elantra for his daughter. The car was parked outside of the family home when it went up in flames on February 9, 2019. Luckily nobody was hurt in the incident and no damage was done to the home.
The man was suspicious about the car's anti-lock brake system. He took photographs of the damage and notified Hyundai. His daughter even noticed smoke coming from come under the hood a month prior to the incident.
While Hyundai acknowledged that the chance of an ABS module causing a fire was rare, the company agreed to launch a prompt investigation. After investigating, Hyundai agreed that a recall was necessary.
"As more data becomes available over time, we immediately conduct a recall when we determine one is necessary to protect the safety of our customers. We are in the process of sourcing the parts needed for the remedy," said Hyundai spokesperson Michael Stewart. "We are working to get those as soon as possible and once we do, we will directly notify customers by the timing listed in the recall. Once customers are notified, they should bring their vehicle in for the free repair."
Are Hyundai and Kia moving fast enough to protect you?
Owners of recalled cars will be notified in April to take their cars to their dealerships to get repairs done. The repairs will be free of charge and will involve installing a relay switch.
Some safety advocates believe that the two companies aren't working fast enough to prevent more cases from occurring. Jason Levine is the executive director of the Center for Auto Safety, which is a nonprofit consumer advocacy group.
"It is inexcusable for Hyundai and Kia to continue to leave their consumers in the lurch when it comes to car fires, whether it be this ABS unit or other car fire units problems that they’ve had," Levine told News 6. "They need to fix them. They need to fix them faster and they need to take more responsibility."
How can you protect yourself?
Car defects pose serious risks to drivers. Fires and other sudden mishaps can occur while your car is in motion or while you're close by. If you're not sure if your car has an open recall, you may enter the vehicle identification number (VIN) on the NHTSA's website. You will see a list of open recalls (if there are any) and dealerships where you can take your car to get repaired for free. Your VIN is located where your driver's side dashboard meets your windshield. You may also find it on your insurance card.
If you or a loved one was injured due to a car defect, an experienced central Florida attorney can help you take legal action. The Law Offices of Scott M. Miller, PLLC serves clients in Longwood and the greater Orlando area. Contact us online to schedule your free consultation.