Additional Hyundai and Kia Recalls Issued Over Engine Damage, Stall and Fire Risks

Federal highway safety officials have announced two more recalls by Hyundai and Kia, impacting another 400,000 vehicles that may experience similar defects within the engine compartment that increase the risk of vehicle fires, adding to recent problems with engine fires among vehicles sold by the Korean auto makers.

The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced the Hyundai and Kia recalls last week, after determining the that there is an unreasonable risk of engine compartment fires, due to premature wearing of connection rods, as well as other unknown defects that have not been uncovered yet during the ongoing investigation.

While Hyundai and Kia are separate auto makers, they are both owned by the same Korean parent company, which has resulted in similar engine designs and parts. These latest engine fire recalls come just a week after the NHTSA announced a consent order with Hyundai Motor America, Inc. and Kia Motors America, Inc., concluding an investigation of the automakers’ untimely recall of more than 1.6 million vehicles prone to vehicle fires due to contain leaking anti-lock brake hydraulic control units.

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The Hyundai recall impacts approximately 128,948 Veloster vehicles from the 2015 through 2016 model years, 2012 Santa Fe, 2011 through 2013 Sonata Hybrid, and 2016 Sonata Hybrid vehicles, which each contain connecting rod bearings inside the engine that could wear prematurely, causing damage to the engine.

Under these circumstances drivers may hear a loud knocking noise, and if continued to be driven could cause the engine to become become damaged and eventually stall the vehicle during operation, Hyundai warned. The manufacturer further warned a damaged connecting rod could puncture the engine block and cause engine oil to leak which, in the presence of hot surfaces, could increase the risk of a fire.

While Hyundai has identified the cause of the engine fire risks, the Kia Motors recall indicates that the source of the engine compartment fires are unknown at this time. Out of an abundance of caution, Kia Motors has issued a recall for approximately 294,756 model year 2012 through 2013 Sorento, 2012 through 2015 Forte and Forte Koup, 2011 through 2013 Optima Hybrid, 2014 through 2015 Soul, and 2012 Sportage vehicles.

Kia and Hyundai announced they will begin notifying owners of the recall with instructions on how to schedule an inspection at their local dealer. For owners of impacted Kia vehicles, dealers will be instructed to inspect the engine compartment for fuel or engine oil leaks, perform an engine test and make any repairs, including engine replacement, as necessary, free of charge. Hyundai owners will receive an inspection of the connecting rod bearings, and if damage is found, the engine will be replaced.

Both Kia and Hyundai announced they will be installing a software update containing a new Knock Sensor Detection System (KSDS) to detect the engine damage.

Hyundai and Kia Engine Fire Consent Order

After receiving more than 3,000 customer reports of a different group of Hyundai and Kia engine fires, including several injuries and at least one fatality, the NHTSA Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) opened an investigation which concluded the automakers inaccurately reported customer warranty claims, which delayed disclosing a potentially life threatening defect.

The consent orders amount to $210 million in fines against the automakers, with Hyundai being subject to a total civil penalty of $140 million, including an upfront payment of $54 million and an obligation to expend an additional $40 million on specified safety performance measures. An additional $46 million deferred penalty may become payable if specified conditions are not satisfied.

Under Kia’s consent order, the company will be forced to pay a total civil penalty of $70 million, which includes an upfront payment of $27 million, an obligation to expend an additional $16 million on specified safety performance measures, and an additional $27 million deferred penalty that may become payable if specified conditions are not satisfied.

In addition to monetary penalties, Kia announced it will create a new U.S. safety office, and Hyundai will be building a U.S. test facility specifically for safety investigations. Both companies will be required to develop sophisticated data analytics programs to better detect safety-related concerns and must retain an independent third-party auditor to evaluate the protocols.


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