ShareThis Page
Hyundai, Kia recall over 500K vehicles as fire risk spreads | TribLIVE.com
U.S./World

Hyundai, Kia recall over 500K vehicles as fire risk spreads

814951_web1_ptr-hyundairecall-030119
AP
Hyundai and Kia are recalling more than a half million vehicles in the United States because of new problems that can lead to engine fires.

DETROIT — Hyundai and Kia have added more than a half-million vehicles to 3½-year string of U.S. recalls for engine failures and fires.

Three recalls released Thursday by the government add new problems and vehicles to the Korean automakers’ list of safety woes, which have brought hundreds of complaints about fires from across the nation.

The companies have now recalled nearly 2.4 million vehicles for fire and engine failure problems since September of 2015, and they are under investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for potentially being slow to fix faulty vehicles.

In addition, the companies are doing a “product improvement campaign” covering another 3.7 million vehicles to install software that will alert drivers of possible engine failures and send the cars into a reduced-speed “limp” mode if problems are detected.

The largest of three recalls posted on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website Thursday covers nearly 379,000 Kia Soul small SUVs from 2012 through 2016 with 1.6-liter engines. Documents show that high exhaust gas temperatures can damage the catalytic converters, which control pollution. That can cause abnormal combustion and damage pistons and connecting rods. A failed connecting rod can pierce the engine block and cause oil leaks that can cause fires.

In addition, Hyundai and Kia are recalling 152,000 Tuscon SUVs from 2011 to 2013 and Sportage SUVs from 2011 and 2012 to fix an engine oil pan leak that also can cause fires.

Documents show that Kia had been investigating fires in Souls after the nonprofit Center for Auto Safety petitioned the government to look into the fires last year. In November, the automaker couldn’t find any safety problem trends but it kept monitoring repair data and found the problem with the catalytic converters.

All Souls with 1.6-liter engines made from July 8, 2011 through August 11, 2016 are being recalled. Dealers will replace a computer that prevents the catalytic converter from overheating. They’ll also replace the catalytic converter and the engine if they have been damaged. Letters will be mailed to owners starting April 12.

In the Tuscon and Sportage recalls, the fix for the oil pan problem is still being developed. Hyundai owners will be notified starting March 29, while Kia owners will get letters starting April 10.

In a letter to legislators mailed Wednesday, the Center for Auto Safety asked for congressional action to hold Hyundai and Kia responsible for failing to repair millions of fire-prone vehicles. The center said the government has more than 300 Hyundai-Kia fire complaints, which is high compared with similar vehicles.

Messages were left Thursday seeking comment from Hyundai and Kia officials.

“The better-late-than-never recall of Kia Souls hopefully will remedy this fire-causing defect,” said Jason Levine, executive director of the center. “Yet one has to wonder why Kia’s initial reaction was to deny the validity of our petition, particularly as there were dozens of reports of fires involving these vehicles all the way back to last summer.”

Levine said Kia denied fire problems with the Soul and he questioned why the company is resisting recalls of other vehicles that are prone to fires.

In one recall document, NHTSA wrote that it had scheduled a meeting with Hyundai to discuss the fire and engine failure investigation, but the meeting had to be canceled due to the partial government shutdown. The documents don’t say whether it has taken place since the shutdown ended. Messages were left for a NHTSA spokeswoman.

Documents in the latest round of recalls don’t mention whether there have been any fires or injuries. In January, Kia said it had six reports of fires among vehicles being recalled for possible fuel leaks, while Hyundai said it had no fire reports. Neither company had any reports of injuries.

Levine has said fire complaints to NHTSA have come from across the country, including a death in Ohio in April of 2017.

Categories: Business | News | World
TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.