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Kia and Hyundai recall 3.3 million cars, advise parking outside

Hyundai and Kia are recalling 3.3 million vehicles due to fire risks caused by issues with the antilock brake system. The affected vehicles range from 2010 to 2019 models. Owners are advised to park their vehicles outside until repairs can be made. The automakers will replace the antilock brake fuse at no cost to owners. The recall comes after the automakers recalled 92,000 vehicles last month due to potential fire risks from an electronic controller in their oil pumps.

Korean automakers Hyundai and Kia have issued a recall for 3.3 million used vehicles due to the risk of fire. The recall is related to issues with the antilock brake system, which can cause fires while the vehicles are parked or in motion. The affected models include Hyundai sedans such as the Accent, Azera, Elantra, Genesis Coupe, Sonata, and the Tuscon SUV. Kia models affected by the recall include the Optima and Soul sedans, as well as the Sportage SUV. These vehicles are from the model years 2010 to 2019.

According to federal safety officials, the antilock brake system in these vehicles can leak brake fluid, leading to an electrical short circuit and increasing the risk of an engine compartment fire. The automakers have identified that an O-ring in the antilock brake motor shaft can lose sealing strength over time due to the presence of moisture, dirt, and dissolved metals in the brake fluid, resulting in leaks.

To ensure safety, owners of the affected car models are advised to park their vehicles outside and away from structures until repairs can be made, as stated in the recall announcement from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

In the U.S., Hyundai has reported 21 fires in the affected vehicles, along with 22 "thermal incidents" involving smoke, burning, and melting of parts. Kia has reported 10 fires and melting incidents.

The automakers will replace the antilock brake fuse at no cost to owners. Kia plans to send notification letters to owners starting on November 14, while Hyundai's notification date is November 21.

Hyundai has assured owners that they can continue to drive the vehicles, as no crashes or injuries have been reported. However, owners are advised to take their vehicles to a local dealership to have the brake system's module fuse replaced. Kia is still working on a fix for its models.

Michael Brooks, executive director of the nonprofit Center for Auto Safety, has raised concerns about the automakers' approach to the recall. He questions why the companies are not addressing the underlying design issue causing the leaks and why they are taking so long to notify owners. Brooks believes that simply replacing the fuse does not fully resolve the problem, as brake fluid can still leak, potentially leading to safety issues.

Brooks also questions the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's decision to allow the automakers to only replace the fuse and why interim letters warning owners of the serious problem are not being sent immediately.

In addition to the antilock brake recall, Hyundai and Kia recently recalled 92,000 vehicles due to an overheating electronic controller in their oil pumps, which can also cause fires. This recall includes certain 2023 and 2024 Hyundai Palisades, Tucson, Sonata, Elantra, and Kona models, as well as Kia's 2023 Soul, Sportage, and Seltos.

Kia has faced additional challenges this year, with a surge in thefts linked to a TikTok challenge that encouraged people to hot-wire the vehicles using a screwdriver and a USB cable. These thefts have resulted in at least 14 reported crashes and eight fatalities. Approximately 9 million vehicles have been affected by these thefts, including Hyundai Elantras and Sonatas, as well as Kia Fortes and Souls.

The increase in thefts and accidents prompted attorneys general in 17 states to call for a recall of millions of Kia and Hyundai vehicles. However, the automakers chose to provide free software updates to prevent theft rather than issuing a recall. Earlier this year, Hyundai and Kia paid $200 million to settle a class-action lawsuit filed by owners whose vehicles were stolen during the nationwide car theft spree.

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