The grille of a 2014 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport

Hyundai and Kia have issued two separate recalls for over half a million vehicles that could leak brake fluid and catch fire. These follow multiple other recalls—in addition to an investigation and a lawsuit—related to fires in Hyundai and Kia vehicles.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Hyundai’s recall includes over 150,000 Santa Fe Sport SUVs from the 2015 through 2017 model years because brake fluid may leak within the antilock brake system (ABS) module. Kia is recalling more than 440,000 Optima sedans from the 2013 through 2015 model years and Sorento SUVs from the 2014 through 2015 model years to fix a different brake fluid leak from another part of the brake system. In both cases, the leak could cause an electrical short circuit, which could lead to an engine compartment fire.

Hyundai and Kia are separate brands that exist under the same parent company. In many cases their cars share parts, design, and engineering. Hyundai spokesman Michael Stewart confirmed to Consumer Reports that these two recalls are related. 

MORE ON HYUNDAI AND KIA RECALLS

In documents shared with NHTSA, the automakers said owners may first notice smoke coming from the engine compartment, a burning or melting odor, or illumination of the check engine or ABS warning lights.

Documents provided to NHTSA and CR showed that there have been 15 fires in Hyundai vehicles and eight fires in Kia vehicles related to these problems. Some of these fires destroyed the cars and SUVs, but none of them caused injuries, the automakers say.

Stewart said the recalls announced today are unrelated to previous recalls involving vehicle fire risk. Previous recalls involved faulty oil pans, catalytic converters, fuel leaks, oil leaks, and engine issues. Some of the vehicles in this recall were involved in prior recall campaigns as well. In addition, the Hyundai Elantra was previously recalled for a different problem related to its ABS sensor. 

After more than 3,000 reports of fires and a petition from the Center for Auto Safety, an advocacy group, NHTSA launched an investigation into Hyundai and Kia vehicles that use a four-cylinder engine design that both companies share, which is called the Theta II. There is a class action lawsuit related to the fires as well.

The Details

Vehicles Recalled
• Hyundai Santa Fe Sport SUVs manufactured between June 17, 2013, and May 13, 2015
• Kia Optima sedans manufactured between June 12, 2013, and Oct. 2, 2015
• Kia Sorento SUVs manufactured between June 17, 2013, and Dec. 11, 2014

The problem: All these vehicles have a component that could leak brake fluid, which may cause a short circuit and a fire.

The fix: Dealers will inspect and replace the faulty components if necessary.

How to contact the manufacturer: Hyundai and Kia will notify owners via first-class mail by the middle of October. Owners of affected vehicles may call Hyundai at 800-633-5151 or Kia at 800-333-4542.

NHTSA campaign number: For Kia, the campaign number is 20V519. For Hyundai, the campaign number is 20V520.

Check to see whether your vehicle has an open recall: NHTSA’s website will tell you whether your vehicle has any open recalls that need to be addressed.

If you plug your car’s 17-digit vehicle identification number (VIN) into NHTSA’s website and a recall doesn’t appear, it means your vehicle doesn’t currently have any open recalls. Because automakers issue recalls often, and for many older vehicles, we recommend checking back regularly to see whether your vehicle has had a recall issued.
 

Stay informed about recalls that might affect your vehicle using our Car Recall Tracker. Create a free account now to become a CR member.

A 2014 Kia Sorento, one of the vehicles recalled for a risk of fire.