Hyundai pays Central Florida family $11k, promises investigation, after car fire

Car caught fire Feb. 9

By Adrianna Iwasinski - Investigative Reporter

OVIEDO, Fla. - A charred, melted and burned out shell of a car is all that's left of the Andersons' 2008 Hyundai Elantra.

Derek Anderson says the car caught fire Feb. 9, while parked out front in the driveway of the family's home.

"We were in the house and we heard an explosion," Anderson said. "And of course that turned out to be the driver side front wheel tire blowing up."

Anderson says they are just lucky the car was not parked inside the garage.

"Had we done that, we may have been coming back to no house," Anderson said.

Anderson says what surprised him even more is that his daughter's Elantra had not been moved in nearly 43 hours.

He's just thankful his daughter wasn't behind the wheel when the car caught fire.

"This is serious," Anderson said looking at the damage. ""The car had been well maintained."

Anderson, who is a self-professed engineer with years of auto mechanic experience himself, said he checked the car's vehicle identification number (VIN), and saw the 2008 Elantra had no active recalls.

However, he said his daughter started noticing problems with the car while driving it last month.

He said she even snapped a picture with her cellphone when it happened.

"The vehicle started smoking and the brakes started chattering," Anderson recalled.

Anderson says they immediately took the car to the nearest Hyundai dealership, and mechanics there determined there was a problem with the car's anti-lock braking system.

He says the estimated cost to repair the car at the dealership totaled more than $7,000.

Anderson says that was more than the car's value, so he says he ordered the recommended parts himself and replaced the master cylinder. But he was still waiting on the ABS hydraulic module to arrive, when the car caught fire.

"I really think that the ABS module would have prevented this event from happening," Anderson said. "The Hyundai manager said their paperwork indicated that needed to be replaced."

Anderson says Hyundai never sent him or his daughter any repair notices to alert them to the problem.
 
Hyundai responded with this statement from Michael Stewart, senior group manager, corporate and marketing public relations:
 
"Nothing is more important to Hyundai than the safety and security of our customers, and we are grateful that no one was injured as a result of the vehicle fire. Immediately after this incident was brought to our attention, we contacted the Anderson family and initiated an investigation. As a gesture of goodwill, we offered to provide them with a rental vehicle, and compensate them for the loss of their 2008 Elantra and any other incidental costs. We plan to work with the Andersons until we reach a resolution to their satisfaction."

"A fire that starts near the ABS module, which is what possibly happened here, is exceptionally rare. We are aware of seven potentially similar cases out of the approximately 400,000 2007-2010 Elantras with that part, which corresponds to 0.00175% of those models. These seven cases all have varying circumstances, so there is no identifying trend that would suggest a defect and necessitate a recall. Nonetheless, our inspection of the Anderson's vehicle will include an examination of its parts and comparisons to the other cases. Any further action will be dictated by the investigation's findings.

Anderson said he just hopes the automaker steps up and starts alerting customers to the potentially dangerous problem.

"So they're out there and it's happening for the 2008," Anderson said. "What about the 2009? What about 2007?" Anderson asked. "You've got somebody's life at risk."

Last year, Hyundai announced a recall on 88,000 older model cars due to a problem in the anti-lock braking system wiring that could cause it to catch on fire, according to Associated Press reports.

According to TheDrive.Com, the recall covered some 2006 Sonatas and all 2006-2011 Azeras.

According to the website's Jan. 24, 2018 article, water can leak into the ABS control modules, which are always powered whether the car is on or not. This can cause a short circuit that could result in an engine compartment fire.

But neither the article, nor the recall, mentioned any Elantras being included in that recall.

Anderson wonders if it should.

He confirmed after News 6 contacted Hyundai, that the company did give his daughter two $150 gift cards, a rental car to use, and offered them $11,000 in compensation.

Anderson credits News 6 with getting him and his family results. He says had he not seen our reports about the recent Kia and Hyundai car fires and recalls, he would have just chalked up his car fire as an insurance loss and moved on.

"I went on the News 6 website, found some links, went to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, filled out the forms there, and then filled out another set of forms that were on your website," Anderson said. "If it had it not been for that, I would probably have said, OK let's just blow it off."

Instead, Anderson hopes his family's case may help get results for other Hyundai car owners and drivers.

"I'd love to see Hyundai step up and say, 'Yeah this is a real issue, and we understand your problem, and here, we'll help you out in some way shape or form,'" Anderson said.

His advice to other Hyundai owners?

"I would probably suggest that they take their car into the dealer, and have them do a thorough check on the ABS systems," Anderson said.
 

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