2016 Hyundai Sonatas Probed For Potentially Flaky Rear Brakes
Marc Stern's picture

NHTSA Probes Potential Rear Brake Lockups In 2016 Hyundai Sonatas

NHTSA has launched an initial investigation into reports that some 2016 Hyundai Sonatas whose rear brakes can remain engaged following a quick diagnostic self-check by the braking control software.

Acting on four consumer complaints, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has opened an investigation focusing on the rear brakes of 2016 Hyundai Sonata. The agency, Automotive News said Wednesday, began an initial investigation of the problem on the strength of four complaints of major rear brake problems.

Rear Wheel Fire Reported

The agency investigation is looking into reports of rear brake lockups while motorists drove their cars. As a measure of the potential level of severity, one of the complaints indicated that a fire broke out in the right rear wheel area while the brake was locked up. NHTSA reported that the problem affected about 8,000 2016 Sonatas. The agency has neither had reports of injuries nor crashes related to the issue.

Equipped with an electronic parking brake system, the Sonata’s fix should be quick and fairly routine. The fix updates the parking brake control software. The problem involves a malfunction causes the rear brake pads and rotors to remain in contact following a diagnostic self-check. Once the self-check has completed, the brakes remain engaged, though they should have disengaged.

No Hyundai spokesman was available for comment, Automotive News said.

The quick action on the part of NHTSA is another example of the proactive environment that has taken hold in and across the agency since Administrator Mark Rosekind took over leadership in December 2014.

Strong Manager At NASA

Rosekind, who was known for hands-on control when he was with the National Aeronautic and Space Administration, announced his intention last year to remake the culture at the vehicle safety unit. For years, the agency and the auto industry had had a very comfortable relationship that resulted in lots of things sliding, including safety reporting and some recalls.

It was the type of environment that encouraged the ignition switch fiasco that ended up costing General Motors nearly a billion dollars. It also resulted in the deaths of 124 persons and serious injuries to 274 more. The relationship also encouraged slow recall response so that more than 20 major Fiat Chrysler Autos recalls were reviewed and replayed by the agency. The same attitude prevailed that led to the record-breaking Takata airbag inflator call-back that has so far resulted in the recall of nearly 100 million vehicles. The problem, relating to the propellant used, has been linked to the deaths of 14 worldwide and serious injuries to 150 more.

Finally, the same attitude was responsible for record-breaking fines to Honda and Fiat Chrysler for foot-dragging on their accident information reporting requirements.

The change in attitude at the agency is the reason that actions now begin as early as possible, rather than later.


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