Laguna Hills, CA – Hyundai Motor America (Hyundai) is recalling certain 2017-2018 Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid and 2018 Ioniq Plug-In Hybrid vehicles due to an electric defect that causes a fire hazard. The potential number of units affected by this recall is 10,575.
According to the NHTSA Recall Safety Report, the subject vehicles contain a Power Relay Assembly (“PRA”) which is located underneath the rear seat. The PRA is equipped with a main relay, which may have been installed too loosely during assembly.
If the PRA operates in this condition, a loose connection between the main power relay contacts could increase electrical resistance. This electrical resistance can generate excessive heat and increase the risk of a fire. Drivers may see illumination of the HEV warning light while driving and/or experience an inability to start their vehicle, which is an indicator of this problem in affected vehicles.
Timeline of Events
On March 7, 2018, HMC received a report indicating that heat damage had occurred on the rear seat of model year 2017 Kia Niro sold in the Korean market. HMC immediately began testing under various driving conditions and maneuvers to determine the cause of the damage, but as of June 2018, was unable to replicate the damage and thus began to focus its investigation on component testing with the supplier.
This testing concluded in August 2018 and again the damage could not be replicated by component bench testing alone. However, HMC conducted additional testing independently, and did manage to replicate the damage on September 18, 2018. Upon inspection of the test vehicle’s damaged rear seat, it was discovered that the damage was caused by increased heat generated by the PRA. The PRA was subsequently examined, and it was discovered that the main relay was loosely connected. This indicated that the heat was the result of increased electrical resistance caused by a loose contact between the main relay terminals.
HMC also noted that the main relay had lower manufacturing specifications for terminal tightening torque and contact pressure, due to being coerced from a former supplier, and that the current supplier was providing main relays which had been produced with higher specifications for terminal tightening torque and contact pressure. The vehicles potentially affected by the former batch of relays was identified via production and supplier delivery records.
All regional distributors of the affected vehicles have informed of these findings, and October 2, 2018, HMC decided to conduct a voluntary safety recall to address the condition in the subject vehicles. Hyundai is unaware of any incidents, crashes, or injuries related to the faulty relays.
Hyundai will notify owners, and dealers will inspect the Power Relay Assembly (PRA) for damage. If no damage is found, the main relay will be replaced. If damage is found, the PRA will be replaced. These repairs will be performed free of charge. The recall is expected to begin November 30, 2018. Owners may contact Hyundai customer service at 1-855-371-9460. Hyundai’s number for this recall is 178.
Owners may also call the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Vehicle Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236 (TTY 1-800-424-9153). The NHTSA Campaign Number for this recall is 18V-704.