Hyundai says recalled vehicles should be parked outside until repairs are made

Hyundai has reversed itself on a recall to fix a defect that could cause engine fires and is now telling owners of more than 200,000 vehicles to park them outdoors until repairs are made.

The company, along with affiliated South Korean automaker Kia, on Thursday said they were recalling over 600,000 vehicles in the U.S. and Canada to fix a brake fluid leak that could cause the fires. Hyundai initially said it was OK for its vehicles to be parked indoors.

The recalls cover 203,000 Hyundai Santa Fe SUVs from 2013 to 2015. Also included are over 440,000 Kia Optima midsize sedans from 2013 through 2015 and Kia Sorento SUVs from 2014 and 2015.

Hyundai spokesman Michael Stewart said the company’s North America safety team met Friday and decided that the Santa Fes should not be parked in garages.

“After further review, it was determined that out of an abundance of caution, customers should park the vehicles outside until the recall is completed,” Stewart said.

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The recalls cover 203,000 Hyundai Santa Fe SUVs from 2013 to 2015. Also included are over 440,000 Kia Optima midsize sedans from 2013 through 2015 and Kia Sorento SUVs from 2014 and 2015.

A message was left Friday seeking comment from Kia on whether it also recommends the vehicles be parked outside.

The automakers said in paperwork released Thursday by U.S. safety regulators that brake fluid can leak inside a hydraulic control unit for the anti-lock brakes, possibly causing an electrical short that can lead to fires.

Kia’s recall will start Oct. 15, while Hyundai’s will start Oct. 23. Dealers for both companies will inspect the control units for leaks and replace them if needed at no cost to owners.

In company documents posted Thursday by U.S. safety regulators, Hyundai said it had 15 reports of engine fires caused by the fluid leaks, while Kia said it had eight. Hyundai said it’s not aware of any injuries, and Kia said it had none.

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Hyundai said earlier that if the anti-lock brake warning light comes on, owners should not drive their vehicles and should contact a dealer. If there’s a warning light, owners also should disconnect the 12-volt battery by removing the positive cable, the company said.

Hyundai documents said the company received its first complaint about an engine fire in a 2014 Santa Fe in April of 2018, and it started an investigation. Kia began investigating after getting a complaint of a melted control unit in a 2015 Sorento last February.

FLORIDA, UNITED STATES - 2019/10/11: A sign is seen at a Hyundai car dealership.Hyundai and Kia announced on October 11, 2019 that they have agreed to settle a class action lawsuit over engine fires by paying customers who purchased certain Hyundai a

The recalls are the latest in a series of engine fire problems that have plagued the two automakers and have touched off investigations by the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Hyundai said the latest recall is not related to the previous recalls or the U.S. investigations.

Engine failure and fire problems with Hyundais and Kias have affected more than 6 million vehicles since 2015, according to NHTSA documents.