When a manufacturer recalls a car, it’s a sign that they make a significant mistake across hundreds or thousands of vehicles. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) requires car makers to issue these recalls when it’s discovered that a specific model of vehicle was sold with dangerous manufacturing flaws. The recalled cars are supposed to be repaired at no cost to fix these flaws for good.
However, just because repairs are supposed to work doesn’t mean they actually will. According to a class-action lawsuit against Hyundai, many recently recalled and repaired cars have not been adequately repaired, leaving drivers in danger. Here’s what you need to know about the allegations against Hyundai, what it means for you, and how to tell if your recalled car is eligible for a lemon law claim.
Allegations of Inadequate Fixes on Hyundai and Kia ABS Systems
The class-action claim comes in the wake of multiple recalls by Hyundai, which also manufactures vehicles under the Kia make. The car maker issued ABS module recalls in five of the past seven years. As recently as February of this year, the manufacturer had recalled nearly half a million cars for the same issue.
These recalls were connected to the same hydraulic electronic control unit (HECU). According to the recall documents, the HECU in affected cars is vulnerable to short-circuiting, potentially leading to fires. The issue can occur whether the vehicle is in motion or parked since the HECU remains charged even when the car is turned off.
Vehicles affected by these recalls include but aren’t limited to:
- 2016-2018 Santa Fe
- 2013-2015 and 2017-2018 Santa Fe Sport
- 2019 Santa Fe XL
- 2014-2021 Tucson
- 2006-2011 Elantra
- 2007-2011 Elantra Touring
- 2006-2011 Azera
- 2008-2009 Kia Sportage
The class-action lawsuit argues multiple points. First and foremost, it states that the repairs Hyundai made to the recalled cars didn’t actually fix the issues. The plaintiffs claim that their vehicles were still at risk of catching on fire even after Hyundai supposedly repaired the problems.
The plaintiffs also allege that Hyundai’s recalls were “woefully inadequate and incomplete,” as they didn’t include enough vehicle models. Multiple other vehicles made by the manufacturer had the same HECU as the recalled cars. The lawsuit alleges that these other cars face just as much risk of catching fire as those that were recalled and that Hyundai has been negligent by failing to extend the recalls to other at-risk vehicles.
Finally, the lawsuit alleges that Hyundai has been aware of the issues with the ABS module since 2011. By continuing to release cars made with the faulty HECU, the plaintiffs state that the manufacturer has been actively negligent by continuing to put drivers at risk.
What’s Considered an Adequate Repair in California?
With these claims against Hyundai and Kia repairs, the definition of an adequate repair may seem confusing. This definition is essential because it’s connected to eligibility for lemon law claims. A car that’s still under warranty and hasn’t been adequately repaired for manufacturing errors is eligible for a refund or replacement by the maker.
However, the definition is simpler than you might think. According to California’s warranty laws, an adequate repair must meet the following criteria:
1. The Vehicle Must No Longer Have the Problem
While it may be obvious, a vehicle is only considered adequately repaired if it no longer has the warranty problem that needed to be fixed. This can sometimes be hard to determine, though. Unless you’re an experienced mechanic yourself, it may not be evident whether the manufacturer’s mechanics actually fixed a subtle issue like a faulty ABS module.
It’s essential to save all the documentation about the fix. The receipt and the explanation of what was fixed are significant evidence if it turns out the issue wasn’t actually repaired. You can use these documents to force the manufacturer to honor the warranty even if it’s technically expired since they didn’t successfully repair it the first time.
2. The Fix Should Occur Within a Reasonable Number of Attempts
Another essential element of an adequately repaired car is how many tries it takes for the manufacturer to get it right. Ideally, it will only take one attempt for the mechanic to fix whatever the problem may be. However, California law permits manufacturers multiple attempts in the interest of fairness.
The number of attempts depends on the problem. Manufacturers are allowed four attempts to fix non-conformities that affect the value or performance of the car but aren’t likely to cause serious injuries. The vehicle may be a lemon if the maker’s in-house mechanics haven’t actually resolved the problem after trying four times.
If the issue could cause severe injuries, manufacturers only get two tries to repair it. For instance, the ABS module issue with Hyundai vehicles could easily cause fatal injuries if it catches on fire. Hyundai only gets two chances to repair it before state law considers it a lemon.
3. The Fix Should Not Leave the Car Out of Commission for More Than 30 Days
The number of repair attempts isn’t the only metric for adequacy. Under state warranty laws, California car owners shouldn’t have to leave their car with the maker’s mechanic for more than 30 days within the first 18 months or 18,000 miles of its purchase.
Manufacturers are supposed to prioritize these fixes. Furthermore, the law states that someone buying a brand-new car has the right and expectation that they can use it, meaning that excessive time in the shop violates their rights. Even if a vehicle hasn’t had multiple failed repair attempts, it’s still a potential lemon if it’s been in the shop for more than 30 days in total.
Make Sure Your Hyundai or Kia Isn’t Putting You in Danger
Regardless of whether the class action lawsuit against Hyundai succeeds, it’s a sign that Hyundai and Kia owners need to pay attention to their cars’ safety. If you think your vehicle has a dangerous manufacturing error and Hyundai hasn’t properly fixed it, you may be able to file a lemon law claim. Get in touch today to learn whether your car might be eligible and what you can do to hold the maker accountable for its problems.