By on September 11, 2020

Image: Hyundai

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.

From AN:

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.
[Image: Hyundai]
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15 Comments on “More Hyundai/Kia Fire Recalls Related to ABS Controller...”

  • avatar

    Fire: Useful much of the time, but sometimes harmful.

    (I proactively store all of my vehicles outside, in case I bought a Hyundai without realizing it.)

  • avatar

    Interesting – vehicles catching fire that aren’t Fords, how refreshing.

    For all the public goodwill and love H/K has garnered itself over the past decade or so, it could go up in a (literal) puff of smoke if they can’t get the fire issues under control, and quick.

    • 0 avatar

      I hate to say it but in the last 10 years I think every roadside car fire I’ve seen has either been a Hyundai-Kia product or VW.

      • 0 avatar

        Don’t forget Nissans.

        In Birmingham, the roads are littered with burned-out Altimas and Maximas. The last three burns I’ve seen have all been Altimas.

        Also, broken axles. Like— one front wheel completely loose from the steering knuckle. People can’t keep their wheels attached our roads are so badly-maintained.

        • 0 avatar

          Another ailment that older Nissans are infamous for is an inoperative CVT. Lots of them seen littering the roads.

          “Not economically feasible to repair” has been heard to cross the lips of a transmission mechanic. We have a friend whose Murano went through two CVTs. The first one was fixed under warranty. No charge.

          The second failure resulted in her parting out her Murano and buying a brand new Grand Cherokee instead.

          • 0 avatar
            Arthur Dailey

            Has Nissan corrected that issue with their CVTs?
            Or is it still endemic?

          • 0 avatar

            I don’t know if Nissan has fixed the issue with their CVTs.

            I read/heard somewhere that ALL CVTs from JATCO now come with an unconditional 10-year warranty.

            CVTs are going to be the de facto automatic of choice of the OEMs into the future.

            They’re cheaper to make, stupidly simple in operation, and with proper electronics can be programmed to mimic the operation and feel of a step-hydraulic transmission.

            My guess is that 50% of all CVT problems are caused by the drivers themselves, abusing a CVT as if it is a hydraulic step transmission which is much more robust.

            And I would also guess that another 25% of CVT failures are due to the drivers towing a trailer in excess of the max 3500 pounds draw weight.

            The remaining failures can be attributed to failed electronics, failed servos, failed steel belt, or cones that fail to move.

            But I myself will only be exposed to a CVT in a rental I may get, so I would not be an authority on the longevity of CVTs.

          • 0 avatar

            I’m not sure “using a transmission as if it was robust” falls under the category of “the driver’s fault.”

          • 0 avatar


            one guy I know used his AWD Murano hitch to pull tree stumps out of the ground. It wasn’t until his wife added the pulling power of her Sentra to the effort that the stumps came out.

            They asked me to haul the stumps to the dump in the bed of my Tundra.

  • avatar

    Every vehicle has some Hyundai in it. And Fords have more than others.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    My 09 Sedona was recalled for this issue (water-related). They installed some sort of relay/wire thing that comes right off the battery.

    I had it done during the depths of Covid, and the dealership was a ghost town.

  • avatar

    Gives a new meaning to the phrase “hot stop.”

  • avatar
    Jeff Semenak

    Why on Earth, would an ABS Controller be powered with key off?

    • 0 avatar

      How would the controller know if you turned off the car or the power source was sheared off or smashed in the initial crash, or you side-swiped guardrail and the car is still at speed?

      I’ll bet you didn’t know your (passive restraint) airbags remain active up to 24 hours after you shut the car off and walk away. Thanks to capacitors,
      you can even disconnect the battery and they’re active.

      Then you have GM cars that like to shut themselves off when hitting a bump or hard turn.

    • 0 avatar

      Many high draw or under-hood components have always hot power feeds. They also have a ignition switched feed that boots the computer that controls the system. If everything is working right it isn’t a problem and the computer won’t activate any power use w/o the ignition feed.

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