WASHINGTON -- Hyundai Motor Co. and Kia Motors Corp. are recalling about 1.7 million vehicles in the United States to replace a faulty switch that can prevent brake lights from illuminating and trigger other problems.
It is the second major recall involving the stop lamp switch, following the callback of more than 500,000 Hyundai vehicles in 2009.
When a driver presses the brake, the switch is supposed to turn on the brake lights and turn off the cruise control. Also, the driver must have the brake depressed to use push-button start or shift a car out of park.
A defective stop lamp switch could cause the brake lights not to illuminate, the cruise control not to deactivate or the push-button start to work erratically, Hyundai and Kia said in filings with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The defect also could prevent a car from shifting out of park.
However, a switch that malfunctions "does not affect a vehicle's brake performance," a Hyundai spokesman wrote in an e-mail.
As many as 1,059,824 Hyundai models could be affected. The recall covers the 2007 to 2009 Accent and Tucson; the 2007 to 2010 Elantra; the 2007 to 2011 Santa Fe; the 2008 to 2009 Veracruz; the 2010 to 2011 Genesis Coupe; and the 2011 Sonata.
The Kia vehicles with potentially faulty switches are the 2007 to 2010 Rondo and Sportage; the 2007 to 2011 Sorento; the 2007 Sedona; the 2010 to 2011 Soul; and the 2011 Optima. As many as 623,658 of those models could be affected.
Hyundai and its Kia affiliate filed notices with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration last week. They were posted on the agency's Web site today.
Hyundai and Kia said they will start notifying owners of the recall by June, once enough replacement parts are available. Dealers will replace the stop lamp switch for free.
After discovering the problem several years ago, Hyundai made a number of changes to the switch.
In February 2009, the company redesigned the electrical contacts in the switch so that they would be less easily corroded. In March of 2010, Hyundai strengthened the housing of the switch to reduce the risk of it being damaged during assembly. And in July 2011, the automaker further redesigned the switch to stop its electric terminals from being moved during assembly.
The cars covered in this week's recall were built before these changes. Hyundai and Kia said the problems were brought to their attention by Transport Canada, the Canadian equivalent of NHTSA, which notified them of several complaints by Canadian drivers in December.
In a separate filing with NHTSA last week, Hyundai said it will recall 186,254 Elantras from model years 2011 through 2013. The move concerns a bracket that could come loose when the side airbag inflates. In one case reported to NHTSA, a passenger's ear was slashed. Hyundai says it will use adhesive strips to secure the bracket.