U.S. auto safety regulators said Monday they had opened a probe into 16 separate recalls issued by Hyundai and Kia covering 6.4 million vehicles relating to brake fluid leaks that could result in fires.
The Korean automakers have issued a string of recalls since 2016 for antilock braking system and Hydraulic Electronic Control Units (HECU) issues manufactured by the same parts supplier and fires.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said it was opening an audit query to evaluate the timeliness of Hyundai and Kia’s defect decision making "and adherence with reporting requirements; and understand the varying defect descriptions and remedies between these recalls."
Hyundai and Kia did not immediately respond to requests for comment Monday.
In September, the Korean automakers recalled a combined 3.37 million vehicles in the United States due to the risk of engine fires, telling owners to park outside and away from structures until repairs are complete.
The automakers said internal brake fluid leaks can cause an electrical short that could lead to a fire.
In September, Hyundai said it has reports of 21 fires and 21 other thermal incidents since 2017, while Kia has reports of at least 10 confirmed fires and melting incidents.
Kia said the Hydraulic Electronic Control Unit (HECU) in the vehicles may experience an electrical short as a result of brake fluid leaks. Hyundai said the Anti-Lock Brake System (ABS) module may leak brake fluid internally and cause an electrical short.
Hyundai in September recalled 1.64 million Elantra, Genesis Coupe, Sonata Hybrid, Accent, Azera, Veloster, Santa Fe, Equus, Veracruz, Tucson, Tucson Fuel Cell and Santa Fe Sport vehicles from various model years from 2011 through 2015. (Reporting by David Shepardson Editing by Bernadette Baum and Louise Heavens)