Man talking(l+r), Hyundai sign(c)

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‘Doctors should take a class from you’: Hyundai Elantra driver says brakes caught on fire. Mechanic finds what really happened

'They have a recall for that.'


Kahron Spearman


Posted on Mar 20, 2024   Updated on Mar 20, 2024, 8:55 am CDT

Diving into the intricate world of automotive troubleshooting, a recent TikTok clip by @royaltyautoservice showcases the investigative prowess of seasoned mechanic Sherwood Cooke Jr. and his son, Sherwood III, as they unravel a curious case involving a 2013 Hyundai Elantra. The vehicle, brought into their shop with an alarming report of front brakes “caught on fire,” serves as a compelling narrative on the critical importance of holistic vehicle diagnostics.

As Sherwood III queries his father about the day’s work, the elder mechanic sets the stage with the Elantra’s concerning condition. “Came in with the… well, let me show you. The client states that the front brakes, in their words, ‘caught on fire.’ So, we brought it in. Brakes were not bound up, but they’ve been extraordinarily hot,” he explains, introducing the issue’s complexity from the start.

The investigation begins with a simple yet crucial observation: The brake lights are perpetually on despite no one pressing the pedal. This anomaly and a dead battery steer the diagnosis from a mechanical failure to an electrical dilemma. “Nobody’s in the car right now, and there’s the brake pedals not depressed. Brake lights are on all the time. The battery was dead when it came in. No mention of that,” Sherwood Jr. shares, highlighting how seemingly unrelated symptoms can be interconnected.

Further delving into the issue, they discover a broken plastic push pin under the dashboard that disengages the brake light switch when the brake pedal isn’t pressed.

“If we look, see if I can’t… I don’t know what this tape is doing here, but it’s some kind of tape. There’s a piece of the old push pin. And if we look, if I push the pedal, there’s no push pin,” Sherwood Jr. details, demonstrating the mechanic’s knack for piecing together clues from the vehicle’s condition.

This small component’s failure had profound implications, keeping the brake lights and, consequently, the brakes themselves slightly engaged. This engagement generated excessive heat and wear, culminating in the dramatic “fire” reported by the client. It’s a lesson in the importance of focusing on the symptoms and understanding the vehicle’s broader system. “When you got a car that comes in and you got issues, like, you know, don’t just laser focus on, ‘Oh, front brakes are locked up.’ Let’s look at the whole picture, what all the symptoms kind of entail, and let’s, you know, let’s get to the answer,” Sherwood Jr. advises.

Most of the comments were for their enjoyment of the way Sherwood Jr. breaks down complicated fixes into tangible, understanding terms. “Geez, doctors should take a class from you, the way you diagnose and search bigger culprits for cars,” said one commenter.

“Definitely will need a complete brake flush,” said one person. “Especially as hot as it got. Pads and rotors both need to be replaced on the front; I would replace the rear pads and check if the rotors are turnable, and the brake light switch needs to be replaced.”

One person astutely noted, “They have a recall for that. Brake light switch stopper.”

@royaltyautoservice There’s always more to the story… #hyundai #brakes #fire #damage #mechaniclife #automotive #cartok #mechanic #technician #diy #brakecheck #viral #fyp #foryou #stitch ♬ Pop beat BGM / long version(1283324) – nightbird_bgm

A recall was issued to address the deteriorating brake pedal stopper pads in a critical safety update related to Hyundai models, including the 2013-14 Elantra coupes, sedans, and GT hatchbacks. This deterioration risked leaving the brake lights illuminated due to the brake light switch plunger not retracting when the brake pedal was released. It also could allow the transmission to be shifted out of Park without pressing the brake pedal, significantly increasing the crash risk. Hyundai committed to mitigating this risk by offering free replacements of the brake pedal stopper pad, with owner notifications beginning on Feb. 8, 2018, to ensure affected vehicles were brought up to safety standards and to decrease the potential for accidents associated with this defect.

This real-world case study underscores the intricate nature of automotive diagnostics and emphasizes the significance of addressing vehicle warnings promptly and thoroughly. Ignoring or misinterpreting signs can lead to dangerous outcomes, a narrative all too familiar with vehicles like the Hyundai Elantra, as referenced in additional recalls detailed by Road & Track for fire concerns.

Through this TikTok tale, @royaltyautoservice offers a masterclass in critical thinking and a comprehensive approach essential for modern auto repair. The Daily Dot has contacted @royaltyautoservice and Hyundai for comment.

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*First Published: Mar 20, 2024, 9:00 am CDT