No matter how complex, high-tech and well-designed vehicles have become in 2017, some problems still make it into production. Each report on such an event is a clarion call for all manufacturers involved in the auto industry to engage in as much testing as is feasible. The reputational damage and expenses that come with issuing a nationwide or global recall can be significant, especially when the problem is with a system as critical as the brakes.
Hyundai recalls over 30,000 U.S. Elantras
As reported by The Car Connection, Hyundai Motor America is the latest automaker to issue a brake-based recall, and the car involved is the 2017 model year Elantra. There are 33,803 of the affected vehicle on the roads at the moment, meaning a large-scale recall will be necessary. The company is carrying out the recall through its own dealerships at no cost to customers.
The source noted a problem with one particular part: The brake booster, made by Georgia-based Mando America Corporation, is potentially defective due to improper manufacturing. Fortunately, the automaker stated that there have thus far been no incidents tied to problems with the boosters.
The exact problem with the brake boosters involves the risk of an unseated diaphragm inside the booster. The Car Connection reported that if this did occur, the vacuum-sealed part could spring a leak, lowering braking power assistance. Cars' braking distances would increase, and this unexpected shift can cause accidents.
Previous Hyundai recalls
Going back a year reveals a few more braking-based recalls for Hyundai sedans. Edmunds noted in August 2016 that the automaker was recalling its 2013 model year Elantra. That event involved 64,500 vehicles, which had possible problems with the stopper pads on the brake pedals. In the case of such a piece failing, brake lights would remain lit even when the brake pedal was not pressed. Furthermore, the car could potentially shift out of park without a press of the brake pedal.
While the above issues both have the ability to lead to danger, Hyundai reported no knowledge of any actual incidents involving the problematic pedals at the time Edmunds went to press.
The differences between these two recalls shows the wide variety of issues that can affect braking systems. The components involved and possible consequences diverge, but the common thread is that each problem led to tens of thousands of Elantras returning to dealerships.
Another braking issue in a Hyundai sedan was noted in September 2016. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration was searching for a connection between four incidents in which 2016 Hyundai Sonata brakes locked up despite the drivers not pushing the brake pedal, according to The Car Connection. The source noted a possible link between the problems and a service bulletin issued in May of the year which mentioned electronic parking brakes causing drag on rear wheels following self-diagnostics.
Going beyond the sedan space, the same news provider also noted in December that Hyundai was recalling certain of its 2016-2017 Tucson and 2017 Santa Fe SUVs for brake light problems. The issues, based on the tow hitch module, kicks in when the vehicles are used to pull cargo. With the larger crossovers seemingly less numerous than the sedans, the recalls only affected 5,600 vehicles.
The need for testing
The above cases are just from a single automaker. This shows the variety of ways brakes problems can manifest themselves within one ecosystem. Auto manufacturers should be vigilant for issues of all kinds. While it can be hard to even know what to look for, developing relevant testing regimens is where complimentary brake testing consultations from Greening come in.