Hyundai recalls vehicles with defective clutch components

Fountain Valley, Calif. – May 10, 2018 – Hyundai Motor America has recalled more than 10,000 vehicles potentially equipped with defective hydraulic clutch actuator assemblies, according to documentation submitted to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. The campaign affects 2017 Hyundai Ioniq hybrid sport utility vehicles produced between Nov. 16, 2016, and Sept. 20, 2017. The South Korean automaker suspects 1 percent of the models involved in the recall contain the defective parts.

The Defect

Affected vehicles have hydraulic clutch actuator housings with abnormally rough edges. These defective features can damage the nearby oil seals, causing oil to leak and pool around the phase cap. This issue can cause electrical shorting and, in instances in which major thermal damage occurs, engine fire. As a result, the defect poses a serious risk to occupants. That said, Hyundai has yet to receive field reports linking the problematic hydraulic clutch actuator assemblies to any accidents or injuries.

Timeline of Events

A Hyundai parts provider LuK reached out to the car manufacturer in March 2017 to report that it had received hydraulic clutch actuator assemblies involved in warranty claims that seemed to exhibit signs of thermal damage near their phase caps, according to an internal chronology report given to the NHTSA.
Hyundai reviewed warranty claims filed in the Korean market in response and found no reports of engine fire or thermal events of any kind. The automaker then began shipping parts from applicable warranty claims to LuK for further analysis. Within three months, the parts vendor had collected a large number of hydraulic clutch actuator assemblies whose housings featured jagged metal edges. LuK determined that these features could damage adjacent oil seals and cause leakage. Consequently, the firm implemented new production processes to eliminate the creation of jagged housing edges and installed reinforced oil seals to prevent leakage.
A Hyundai affiliate submitted a quality information report associated with the defect in December 2017. This action prompted the automaker to accelerate and expand its analysis efforts. Between January 2018 and April 2018, Hyundai combed through a significant number of hydraulic clutch actuator assemblies to gain more information on the variables contributing to failure. The car manufacturer was able to replicate an electrochemical reaction caused by oil pooling around the phase cap. It was also able to create a galvanic event that produced sparks and could cause an engine fire.
On April 16, 2018, Hyundai shared its findings with all vendors and affiliates in all markets. Then, on April 20, 2018, the automaker convened its Technical Committee, which called for a voluntary safety recall. Dealers received notification of the campaign May 4, 2018.

The Solution

Hyundai has directed dealers to inspect hydraulic clutch actuators installed in affected vehicles and, if necessary, replace these parts free of charge, according to an NHTSA recall acknowledgment document. The car manufacturer intends to reach out to owners through first-class mail June 20, 2018. Owners in need of assistance prior to the beginning of the campaign can contact Hyundai customer service personnel at (855) 371-9460. Callers should use the internal recall reference number 176. Owners can, of course, connect with the NHTSA directly via its toll-free Vehicle Safety Hotline at (888) 327-4236.

Sean ReyesHyundai recalls vehicles with defective clutch components