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Hyundai, Kia Bump Recalls By 534,000; Callbacks Now At 2.3 Million

Hyundai and Kia, South Korea's prominent automakers, today added another 534,000 vehicles to an ongoing recall. The automakers have recalled vehicles to prevent vehicle fires, without crashes. According to the Center for Auto Safety, the number of vehicles now affected by problem fires is up to 300, though no crashes or injuries have been reported.
Posted: February 28, 2019 - 11:33PM
Author: Marc Stern

Hyundai Motors and its subsidiary Kia today recalled 534,000 vehicles to fix potential problems that may lead to engine fires. Reuters said Thursday that Kia had recalled 378,000 2012-16 Souls. And, Kia includes 2011-12 Sportage – compact SUVs – to fix possible oil pan leaks. This is a separate recall.

Meantime, Hyundai said it its recall was for as many as 155,000 2011-13 Tucson SUVs for potential oil pan leaks, as well.

Current Recalls Bring Total To 712,000

This week’s recall brings to 712,000 the number of vehicles that the South Korean automaker has recalled for potential fire risks. Since 2015, when this series of recalls began the South Korean carmakers have recalled more than 2.3 million vehicles to address engine fire risks.

This week’s recalls follow an NHTSA criminal investigation into Hyundai and Kia. The probe seeks to find out if recalls linked to engine defects have appropriate. Hyundai and Kia declined to comment.

In May of 2017, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) opened a formal investigation into the recalls of nearly 1.7 million Hyundai and Kia vehicles over engine defects.

Talks Claimed Where Safety Analyses Were Discussed

Hyundai claimed that it had had talks with the safety agency in December 2018 to discuss the automakers’ safety analysis. At that time, NHTSA told the automaker it had expected the automaker to order a recall of 2011-13 Tucsons. (To understand recalls, please realize that the auto industry drives the process. If it receives consumer complaints sufficient to begin the process, it notifies NHTSA and then launches the recall.)

Hyundai and Kia said Thursday that they had received no reports of crashes or injuries related to the new recalls. Kia reported that exhaust gas temperatures prompted one of the new recalls. The high temperatures could damage the catalytic converter and possibly other parts. The fix for this problem is an upgrade to the vehicles’ software to prevent the overheating problem. Reuters reported Thursday that the automakers would offer upgrades to 3.7 million cars not involved in the recall. The software updates reportedly aim at protecting the engines from internal damage. Plus, the automakers will extend the warranties of the vehicles to cover engine issues.

Meantime on Wednesday, the safety watchdog, Center for Auto Safety, told Congress that Hyundai and Kia must recall more vehicles at risk of fire following 300 reports of vehicle fires that weren’t the result of any crashes.

Whistleblower Makes Concerns Known To NHTSA

In 2016, a whistleblower reported concerns to the safety agency. The agency was involved in a probe, at the time, of the timeliness of three U.S. recalls and whether the recalls were broad enough. In 2015, Hyundai called back 470,000 Sonata sedans for a stalling problem. Stalling increased the risk of a crash. Also, Kia did not recall any vehicles, though they shared “Theta II” engines with Hyundai.

Meantime, Hyundai expanded its original recall of 572,000 Sonata and Santa Fe Sport models in March 2017, citing the same issues it had used for its initial recall of vehicles with the “Theta II” engine. The same day, Kia recalled 618,000 Optima, Sorento, and Sportage vehicles. They also used the “Theta II” powerplant.

Source: Reuters