After consumers were burned by General Motors (GM), and their extremely long delay in recalling millions of cars because of defective safety switches, apparently the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has decided to be more aggressive with automakers when it comes to making sure they recall defective vehicles in a timely manner, as soon as they become aware of a defect.
The NHTSA has decided to hit South Korean carmaker Hyundai with a fine of $17.35 million because the company waited too long to recall 43,500 Genesis sedans for brake problems. Apparently, the company was aware of problems with the vehicle’s brakes back in 2012, but waited until regulators began an investigation into the break problems in October 2013, before issuing a recall. At one point in March 2013, seven months before the recall, Hyundai told its dealers to change the vehicles’ brake fluid, but didn’t explain why. They also did not tell the owners of the vehicles there was a problem until the recall. NHTSA investigated the matter thoroughly and determined that Hyundai had (a) failed to report the problem to the agency in a timely manner and (b) failed to issue a proper recall.
This particular brake problem affected Genesis sedans from model years 2009 through 2012, and had to do with the brake fluid failing to prevent corrosion in the brake line, which created an increased risk of brake failure and a potential crash. While the carmaker claimed that they had no reports of fatalities or serious injuries linked to the defect, they did receive reports of six crashes and two minor injuries by the time of the recall. In addition, the company has received 87 consumer complaints for the problem. Hyundai has assured the NHTSA that they have improved their processes so as to avoid the same type of situation in the future.
This latest penalty comes just months after the NHTSA hit GM with a fine of $35 million because it delayed the recall of what turned out to be millions of cars for a faulty ignition switch. In some cases, those recalls were delayed by as much as a decade. The $35 million fine is the maximum amount automakers can be fined for a single violation.
It is a good thing regulators are taking auto defects more seriously, and finding carmakers were appropriately as a result, but a lot more has to be done to protect the American consumer. Drivers have enough to worry about whether or not their car is going to lead them into an accident. If you are loved one have been injured or killed in a car accident, and you believe a defect in the vehicle’s design may have contributed to the accident, please contact the Automotive Defect Lawyer at Hill Law Firm immediately, so that we can help you protect your rights.