‘Lives at risk’ in Hyundai recall
Hyundai has been telling anxious owners of recalled Tucsons that none has caught fire in Australia despite getting a legal letter three weeks ago about an elderly NSW couple's SUV being suspected of igniting while switched off in their garage at 2am.
And that is not the only warning Hyundai has received, with a Melbourne man notifying the carmaker his Tucson burst into flames while he was embarking on a school drop-off earlier this month.
On February 4 this year, Hyundai Australia announced the recall of more than 93,000 Tucsons made between 2015 and 2020 because of a defect in the anti-lock braking system's circuit board that could trigger a fire "even when the vehicle is turned off, as the circuit is constantly powered."
Three days earlier, Richard and Judy Edwards had fought smoke and heat to escape a house fire their lawyer claims started in their 2016 model Tucson, which was parked in the garage.
The couple was "lucky" to get out, NSW Police said.
Fire and Rescue NSW confirmed to The Daily Telegraph that the blaze "began in a garage where a Hyundai vehicle was parked."
The Edwards's lawyer Greg McBurney of McBurney Law said "the preliminary indications are that the fire did start in the vehicle … but we have to do our due diligence."
Mr McBurney said an independent expert would examine the SUV once access was arranged with the car insurer.
A FRNSW spokeswoman said it had been unable to determine the cause "due to the intensity of the fire and excessive damage".
The couple - who recently retired after lengthy and successful careers as restaurateurs - declined to comment.
"They lost everything," Mr McBurney said. "They are not doing too well."
Mr McBurney said he wrote to Hyundai in early March to advise of the fire but had not received a response.
On March 18, Melbourne's Zane Lewis-Hamilton started his 2018 model Tucson to take his nephew to school but the vehicle wouldn't shift from park to drive.
So he called RACV roadside assist.
"But before they got here the car had caught fire," he said.
Mr Lewis-Hamilton, of Craigieburn, said it could have happened while he was driving his nephew to school.
"I think people's lives are at risk," he said.
On the day of the fire, he informed the Hyundai dealer who sold him the car and serviced it. He also told Hyundai's head office.
However, on social media, Hyundai said to other worried customers as recently as Wednesday that "the recent recall is a precautionary measure only, with no actual reported cases in Australia".
A Hyundai spokesman said it couldn't comment on either case because they were "under investigation".
"We acknowledge the error made in the wording of the social media post" and it wouldn't happen again, he said.
Last week, Sydney's Bannister Law - which is investigating the potential for a Tucson class action - wrote to owners saying it had "a genuine concern that the risks associated with the current recall may have been glossed over".
A GoFundMe page has been established to help Mr and Mrs Edwards.
'THE CAR JUST CUT OUT'
This Sydney couple's Hyundai ix35 was left out of a recall then suffered the precise fault the car giant had identified just moments before catching fire while their young children were asleep in the back seat.
Justin and Soraya Longdon of Narrabeen were driving on the M1 near Cowan on February 7 when their 2013 model stalled as they were attempting to accelerate around a semi-trailer.
"All of a sudden the car just cut out," Mrs Longdon recalled.
Mr Longdon was driving. He pulled over, popped the bonnet and checked the battery connections.
He returned to the car and tried to start the vehicle without success.
So Mr Longdon looked under the hood again and noticed flames beneath the engine.
They grabbed their daughters - Maya, nine months and four-year-old Raina - and fled down the side of the highway.
Within two minutes the car was engulfed in flames.
Mrs Longdon said her husband's checking saved their lives.
"If it had just been me I would have sat in the driver's seat and called roadside assistance," she said.
In 2019 Hyundai recalled about 8200 ix35s made between 2010 and 2013 because of a defect that caused engine oil to leak, creating the risk of stalling at high speed.
It still has more than 2500 to fix.
The Longdons' vehicle was not on the recall list.
"So there was no way for us to even know or correct the problem," Mrs Longdon said.
A Hyundai spokesman said the Longdons' ix35 "was not recalled because it was not affected."
The family was initially offered $2000 by Hyundai.
The Longdons declined this but reluctantly accepted an increased offer of $5000 recently.
Even with their insurance payout, they will be left out of pocket.
Second-hand car prices have increased dramatically in the past year, plus they lost fittings such as car seats, and their comprehensive cover will be more costly for the next three years due to the claim.
"This was not our fault," Mrs Longdon said. "It's not fair."
A Hyundai spokesman said "we don't think it is right to comment on individual cases."
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Originally published as 'Lives at risk' in Hyundai recall