The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration wants you (well, automakers) to know that they aren't messing around when it comes to reporting safety defects! In an action similar to what they did to General Motors in May, regulators have ordered Hyundai to pay $17.35 million in civil fines.
The fine comes in connection with a brake defect in the 2009 to 2012 Hyundai Genesis. This defect could cause corrosion in brake system components and lead to decreased braking effectiveness and increased crash risk.
NHTSA officials say Hyundai found out in 2012 that brake fluids did not sufficiently inhibit corrosion, and instead of issuing a recall, they simply told dealers to change that brake fluid. They also did not inform owners of this defect. After a NHTSA investigation in the fall of 2013, they finally issued a recall.
So, for not notifying NHTSA of the problem in a timely manner as required by law and ordering a recall, regulators hit the Korean automaker with the fine.
No deaths are known as a result of the defect, but six crashes — two with injuries — were reported. Most of the 87 complaints to NHTSA about the Genesis deal with difficulty braking.
As with the GM fine, $17.35 million is likely to be a drop in the bucket for Hyundai, and it's only half of the legal maximum for such penalties. Perhaps as NHTSA comes under the microscope more and more for their inaction during the GM fiasco, we'll see them cracking down on recalls to a greater degree in the future.