Complaints about fire and engine failures have prompted Korean automakers Hyundai and Kia to issue a recall for approximately 168,000 vehicles. The recall will address a fuel pipe problem that can lead to engine fires. The issue stems from improper repairs during a previous recall for engine failures.
Kia sent notices to dealers around Jan. 10 notifying them about the recall. Vehicles included in the fuel injector pipe recall include the following 2-liter and 2.4-liter four-cylinder engines:
- 2011-2014 Kia Optima
- 2012-2014 Sorento SUVs
- 2011-2013 Sportage SUVs
Both automakers have been under investigation by the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The agency has been trying to figure out if the initial recall covered enough vehicles. However, the current government shutdown has stalled any NHTSA investigations. The companies decided to move forward with the recall despite U.S. government delays.
“Making our customers comfortable is vastly more important than making sure we’re following additional government process right now,” Kia spokesman James Bell said.
Additionally, the automakers are committing to a “product improvement campaign” which will cover 3.7 million vehicles. They intend to install software that will alert drivers of potential engine failure. If the sensor detects an issue, then it will send cars into reduced-speed “limp” mode.
However, a U.S. auto safety advocate called the recalls inadequate. The advocate also said the product improvement campaigns should be recalls overseen by NHTSA.
Kia says that it has six reports of fires among the recalled vehicles. While Hyundai says that it has no fire reports. Neither automaker reports any injuries or deaths.
What were Hyundai and Kia’s previous recalls?
The threat of manufacturing debris restricting oil flow to connecting rod bearings in a car’s engines led to Hyundai recalling one million vehicles in 2015. Kia did not issue the recall for its 618,000 affected vehicles until 2017. The defect could cause bearings in 2-liter and 2.4-liter four-cylinder engines to wear and fail. Additionally, the problem could also lead to fires. Repairing this issue, in many cases, involves an expensive engine block replacement.
The automakers are now acknowledging that dealers may not have properly replaced the engines. In a statement, Kia says the high-pressure fuel pipe may have been damages misaligned or improperly tightened during repairs. These shoddy repairs can lead to fuel leaks that hit a hot engine and cause fires.
Hyundai and Kia 2019 software update
More than 2 million Hyundai Sonatas manufactured between 2011-2018 and Sante Fe Sports manufactured between 2013-2018 are covered by the software and engine knock sensor updates. In addition, 1.7 million Kia Optimas manufactured between 2011-2018, Sorentos manufactured between 2012-2018 and Sportages manufactured 2011-2018 are covered by the software update.
Does the fuel injector pipe recall affect my vehicle?
Vehicle owners included in the recall will receive a notice by mail. Kia is only planning to repair 68,000 of its 618,000 vehicles recalled for the engine fuel injector pipe problem.
Hyundai, on the other hand, is recalling 100,000 of its more than 1 million vehicles from its original recall. The automaker says that only vehicles with engines replaced in the previous recall are covered under the new recall.
Experts say that the limited relatively small number of vehicles recalled—without adequate explanation—raises more questions than answers. The executive director of the Center for Auto Safety has reported that owners of other vehicles not included in the recall have also complained of fires.
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