Hyundai, Kia urged to make re­calls


Lethbridge Herald - - BUSINESS & AG NEWS - Tom Krisher THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS — DE­TROIT

Anon-profit auto safety group is de­mand­ing that Hyundai and Kia re­call 2.9 mil­lion cars and SUVs in the U.S. due to con­sumer com­plaints that they can catch fire.

The Cen­ter For Auto Safety says there have been more than 220 com­plaints to the U.S. govern­ment since 2010 about fires and an­other 200 com­plaints about melted wires as well as smoke and burn­ing odours.

The com­plaints in­volve the 2011 through 2014 Kia Sorento and Op­tima and the Hyundai Sonata and Santa Fe. Also in­cluded is the 2010 through 2015 Kia Soul.

The fires are be­ing in­ves­ti­gated by the Na­tional High­way Traf­fic Safety Ad­min­is­tra­tion as part of a 2017 probe into 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,” Ja­son Levine, the cen­tre’s ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor, said Fri­day. The fire re­ports have come in from across the coun­try, in­clud­ing a death in Ohio in April of 2017, he said.

Hyundai says it mon­i­tors safety con­cerns and acts quickly to re­call de­fec­tive ve­hi­cles. “We have a ro­bust sys­tem in place for mon­i­tor­ing and in­ves­ti­gat­ing re­ported ve­hi­cle fires that in­cludes in­ves­ti­ga­tion and re­port­ing to NHTSA as re­quired. Ve­hi­cle fires can re­sult from a va­ri­ety of rea­sons,” the com­pany state­ment said. Kia did not im­me­di­ately com­ment.

The cen­tre filed a pe­ti­tion ask­ing NHTSA to in­ves­ti­gate the fires in June. The agency said Fri­day that it is still eval­u­at­ing the pe­ti­tion.

Levine says the cen­tre does not know what’s caus­ing the fires.

In May of 2017 the govern­ment be­gan in­ves­ti­gat­ing whether the au­tomak­ers moved quickly enough to re­call over 1.6 mil­lion ve­hi­cles be­cause of en­gines stalling.

NHTSA is look­ing into three re­calls by the re­lated Korean brands, and it’s also in­ves­ti­gat­ing whether the au­tomak­ers fol­lowed safety re­port­ing re­quire­ments.

Hyundai re­called about 470,000 ve­hi­cles in Septem­ber of 2015 be­cause man­u­fac­tur­ing de­bris can re­strict oil flow to con­nect­ing rod bear­ings.

That can cause bear­ings in four­cylin­der en­gines to wear and fail. The re­pair is an ex­pen­sive en­gine block re­place­ment.

In March of last year, the au­tomak­ers is­sued two more re­calls cov­er­ing 1.2 mil­lion ad­di­tional ve­hi­cles with the same en­gine prob­lem.

If NHTSA finds that the com­pa­nies moved too slowly to re­call ve­hi­cles, then it can is­sue fines or or­der ad­di­tional re­calls.

Levine said the cen­tre has found a dozen com­plaints of fires in ve­hi­cles that had the re­call re­pairs, in­di­cat­ing that the fires may not re­lated to the en­gine de­bris prob­lem.

NHTSA, in doc­u­ments posted last year, said Hyundai limited ve­hi­cles in the 2015 re­call to a group man­u­fac­tured prior to April 12, 2012. The com­pany said it solved the man­u­fac­tur­ing prob­lem af­ter that date.

Kia said at the time of the 2015 re­call that its 2.4-litre and 2-litre “Theta II” en­gines that were the same de­sign as Hyundai’s were not re­called then be­cause they didn’t have the same is­sue.

Then both com­pa­nies is­sued more re­calls 18 months later for the same prob­lem, in­clud­ing mod­els the au­tomak­ers orig­i­nally said weren’t af­fected, in­ves­ti­ga­tors wrote in doc­u­ments posted on the agency’s web­site.

The re­calls from last year cover some of the Korean au­tomak­ers’ most pop­u­lar mod­els in the U.S. and Canada, in­clud­ing 2013 and 2014 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport SUVs and Sonata mid­size cars. Also cov­ered are Kia Op­tima mid­size cars from 2011 through 2014, Kia Sportage SUVs from 2011 through 2013 and Kia Sorento SUVs from 2012 through 2014.

Kia is a smaller af­fil­i­ate of Hyundai. To­gether they are the world’s fifth-largest au­tomaker.

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