The brake lights on thousands of new Hyundais have been found to be faulty and Hyundai owners risk a $100 fine in NSW and $211 fine in Victoria – but the company is refusing to issue a recall because it says it’s not a safety hazard as the brakes still work.
Hyundai is instead waiting for customers to notice the fault – which, adding to the confusion, shows up as a stability control warning light and could also lead to cruise control failure.
Hyundai Australia issued a confidential bulletin to dealers in June warning of a problem with the brake light switch assembly on all passenger and commercial vehicles made between August 2011 and May 2012 – during which time the company sold more than 70,000 vehicles.
It listed the following conditions: “stop lamps inoperative upon brake pedal application, cruise control inoperative/drops out, engine starting not possible [some models], unable to shift transmission lever from or into “park”, ESP light staying on.”
It instructs dealers to “replace the defective stop lamp switch with a new type” – but only customers who notice their brake lights aren’t working will get them fixed for free. Contrary to its bulletin to dealers, the company told News Limited the faulty brake light switch only affects four models: the i30 (FD) hatch, the ix35 (LM) and SantaFe (CM) softroaders, and the iLoad and iMax (TQ) vans.
A statement from Hyundai spokesman Bill Thomas said: “I can acknowledge that we have experienced instances where the electrical switch on limited numbers of some Hyundai models has lost electrical contact.
“This switch can serve various purposes including ESP and cruise control circuit recognition, engine starting for the smart key system, as well as operating the brake lights. Customers have thus reported various issues with this switch but in all cases the brakes themselves functioned normally.”
The Australian Automobile Association, which represents 7 million motorists, says a safety recall should be issued. “Common sense tells you it’s a safety issue,” the executive director of the AAA, Andrew McKellar, told News Limited. “We would be concerned if any manufacturer was seeking to circumvent the recall process. A fault like that could clearly compromise the safety of other road users.”
Hyundai would not reveal how many warranty repairs have been carried out so far on the brake light switch but says they are ongoing. News Limited has contacted the Federal Department of Transport and is awaiting a response.
This reporter is on Twitter: @JoshuaDowling