Don’t play with fire. Literally.
There appears to be a problem with an awful lot of Hyundai and Kia vehicles that have yet to be issued an official recall. According to the Associated Press, the Center For Auto Safety, a nonprofit auto safety group, is demanding that Hyundai and Kia recall 2.9 million cars and SUVs due to a fire risk. The nonprofit organization issued another appeal last Friday claiming there has been over 220 complaints to the US government since 2010 about fires and an additional 200 complaints regarding melted wires and smoke and burning odors. We first heard about this issue last June and apparently the government has yet to do anything.
The vehicles in question involve the 2011 through 2014 Kia Sorento and Optima and the Hyundai Sonata and Santa Fe. The 2010 through 2015 Kia Soul is also now included.
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration is also involved in the investigation, which is part of another investigation from 2017 regarding possible Hyundai and Kia engine failures. "The volume of fires here make it appear that Hyundai and Kia are content to sit back and allow consumers and insurers to bear the brunt of poorly designed, manufactured and repaired vehicles," said Jason Levine, the center's executive director. The fire reports have come in from across the US, and one from Ohio stands out because someone died in 2017 from a vehicle fire.
Hyundai says it is monitoring the situation and conducting its own investigation and will report anything and everything to the NHTSA as required by law. Kia is also conducting its own investigation and is also using third-party fire investigators in order to determine the exact cause.
"A vehicle fire may be the result of any number of complex factors, such as a manufacturing issue, inadequate maintenance, the installation of aftermarket parts, an improper repair, arson, or some other non-vehicle source, and must be carefully evaluated by a qualified and trained investigator or technician," the company said in an official statement.
However, none of this is good enough for the Center For Auto Safety, which has now petitioned the NHTSA to investigate reported fires from last June. It also does not know what’s causing the fires, hence the need for a recall. Previously, the Korean automakers issued engine-related recalls due to manufacturing debris possibly restricting oil flow to connecting rod bearings in four-cylinder engines. The repair wasn’t cheap: an engine block replacement. Could these fires also be related to the same issue? Hyundai and Kia are working overtime right now to find out.