When we buy a new car, we trust that the vehicle is safe. We trust the manufacturer built and tested it to the highest possible standards, and we trust that the manufacturer will fix the problem if a safety issue is uncovered later. These are the standards that every driver can expect under U.S. law.
Unfortunately, product recalls are extremely expensive for car companies, often costing many more than half a billion of dollars. As a result, companies are often reluctant to initiate a voluntary recall, even though the law is clear on the subject.
California drivers should be aware of a new automobile recall that recently made headlines across the country. This one was issued by Hyundai Motors. The recall affects the Hyundai Genesis, a common four-door sedan.
Authorities say the recall was necessitated by a faulty breaking system, which can cause the brakes to lose stopping power over time. Apparently, the brake fluid in the factory models has the ability to corrode a series of valves on the brake control unit. This, in turn, decreases the effectiveness of the brakes system.
There are not yet any reports of injuries associated with the defective product, though there has been at least one accident. One driver wrote that they tried to stop the car but found the brakes totally unresponsive; they eventually struck the car ahead of them.
Hyundai has apparently been aware of the problem since March, when they started replacing the Genesis' brake fluids in a service campaign. It wasn't until several customers complained, however, that a full recall was announced. Hyundai is calling the recall "voluntary," though in truth, even "voluntary" recalls are required by law. This is because the National Highway Traffic Safety Commission must be informed of all potential safety defects within five days of their discovery; automakers must prepare a recall within this time or they will be given a fine.
Sources at Hyundai have declined to comment on why the cars were not recalled as part of their March service campaign.
Carmakers have a responsibility to begin a recall promptly after a problem is discovered; failure to do so could result in serious injuries among drivers. It's not clear whether anyone was injured in this case; more information will likely come forward as awareness of the recall spreads. If there were injuries related to the faulty brake system, the company could be subject to a defective product lawsuit.
Source: The New York Times, "Hyundai Will Recall 27,500 Genesis Sedans for Braking Problem" Christopher Jensen, Oct. 22, 2013