This engine fire issue won't go away.
It's been more than six years since Hyundai and Kia have been dealing with an engine fire issue that's affected over three million vehicles (1.6 million in the US alone). There are reports of 3,000 fires, and over 100 related injuries in total, forcing the South Korean sister brands to set aside $760 million in October 2019 for civil liabilities. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has been investigating the problem for a couple of years now and it's far from finished.
The government agency has now stepped up its investigations following a new engineering analysis of those defective vehicles. No further details were provided. The vehicles involved were top sellers like the 2011-2014 Hyundai Sonata and Santa Fe, 2011-2014 Kia Optima and Sorento, and the 2010-2015 Soul.
All of these vehicles are top sellers and come powered by either the 2.0-liter or 2.4-liter Theta II gasoline engine. Following the initial engine failure recall in September 2015, the NHTSA has issued eight additional recalls for a variety of other engine issues. Basically, the feds are now concerned those previous recalls weren't enough. They seem to have reason to believe the engine defect has not been fully resolved and thousands of problematic vehicles are still out on the road.
The new analysis it's just opened is to determine whether or not those earlier recalls were sufficient, effective, "as well as the long-term viability of related programs and none-safety field actions being conducted by Hyundai and Kia." The two automakers confirmed they are continuing to fully cooperate with investigators.
"Hyundai has taken numerous proactive actions to address engine issues, including conducting several recalls, launching a new engine monitoring technology, providing extended warranties and enhancing our customer service response," the company said. "Hyundai fosters a culture of transparency and accountability as the safety of our customers is the top priority in everything we do."
The two carmakers were ordered by the NHTSA to pay $137 million in fines and to enact safety improvements because they didn't act fast enough to recall over 1 million vehicles. The ongoing investigation could potentially result in additional fines. More importantly, it needs to get to the bottom of this issue and resolve it once and for all.