The recall is to replace a faulty brake light switch across eight models -- representing most of its range -- after News Limited exclusively unearthed the fault late last year.
But the company has stopped short of calling it a safety recall because, inexplicably, the federal Department of Transport advised the ACCC it is “not a safety issue”. The faulty brake light switch exposed in Australia is also likely to spark a global recall of more than 1 million Hyundai cars.
Hyundai has known about the problem since November 2011 when it surfaced in Australia. The company had discreetly begun fitting replacement parts as customers came in with the problem.
Despite knowing about the fault for 15 months Hyundai has only just now started what the industry refers to as a “service campaign” -- and only after News Limited exposed the issue by sourcing a confidential dealer bulletin late last year. Dealers were finally notified of the service campaign late today and owners of the affected cars will be notified tomorrow.
“The government looked at the data and determined no further action was required,” said Hyundai Australia spokesman Bill Thomas. “The brakes still work and the brake lights still work. But in a very small percentage of cases there was a delay in full illumination of up to two seconds.”
Hyundai said that “in the vast majority of cases” if the brake light switch fails it prevents the vehicle from getting out of park or starting. In some cases the cruise control would not work.
The switch attached to the pedal wasn’t “talking” to the car’s computer properly. “The computer didn’t know the brakes had been applied,” Thomas said. This confused many of the car’s systems and a warning light would glow, prompting customers to take the car to a dealership.
Hyundai would not say how many cars are affected globally, but a figure of more than 1 million is a conservative estimate given that Australia accounts for about two per cent of Hyundai’s global sales. “[Hyundai] is looking at it on a market-by-market basis,” Thomas said.
Hyundai cars affected by faulty brake light switch
(all of these models will be called back to dealerships)
Hyundai Getz (August 2002 to August 2011)
Hyundai i30 (September 2007 to May 2012)
Hyundai Santa Fe (May 2006 to August 2012)
Hyundai Tucson (June 2004 to February 2010)
Hyundai ix35 (March 2010 to today)
Hyundi Elantra (October 2006 to June 2011)
Hyundai iLoad and iMax (February 2008 to today)
This reporter is on Twitter: @JoshuaDowling