Here's what owners need to know.
If you're the owner of a Hyundai or Kia then this is something you need to pay attention to. The South Korean automakers have just announced a recall of 295,000 Kias and 129,000 Hyundais in the US for engine fire risks. This comes just one week after the pair announced a record $210 million civil penalty with the US safety regulators over its failure to recall 1.6 million vehicles over engine issues in a timely manner.
This time around, neither automaker is taking any chances. The recall affects some of the following models: 2011-2013 Kia Optima Hybrid, 2012 Sportage, 2012-2013 Sorento, and 2012-2013 Forte and Forte Koup with the 2.4-liter Theta II engine; and the 2014-2015 Forte, Forte Koup, and Soul with the 2.0-liter Nu engine. For Hyundai, the 2015-2016 Veloster, 2012 Santa Fe, 2011-2013 Sonata Hybrid, and 2016 Sonata Hybrid are involved.
The issue at hand for the Kias is an engine compartment fire that can break out while driving. The exact cause of remains "undetermined." Dealerships are being instructed to inspect the compartment for fuel or oil leaks, complete an engine test, and make any required repairs, which could involve a complete engine replacement in some cases. In addition, Kia says it is developing a Knock Sensor Detection System software update.
This recall dates back to 2019 when an investigation got underway for non-crash fires. Last July, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recommended for Kia to recall the aforementioned vehicles due to a higher fire complaint rate.
Kia says its "decision to recall certain vehicles [is] as a preventative measure to mitigate any potential fire risk" and was done "based on NHTSA's recommendation." The agency confirmed there is no known manufacturing or design defect and the recall is a "preventive measure to mitigate any unreasonable fire risk." There doesn't appear to be any known related injuries.
For the Hyundais, connecting rod bearings in the engine could wear out prematurely and damage the engine. This can result in an increased likelihood of an engine fire or stalling, which can lead to a crash.
Hyundai says it will begin notifying affected owners on January 22 and Kia will do so on January 27. Owners can also check the NHTSA recalls website or the automakers' websites for additional details.