DOJ Possibly Investigating Hyundai/Kia Recall Activity
Prosecutors may be looking into a vehicle recall affecting certain Hyundai and Kia vehicles equipped with the company’s turbocharged 2.0-liter and naturally-aspirated 2.4 liter engines. It’s not an investigation to determine if a recall is needed; rather, it’s a look-see to find out if existing recalls were conducted correctly.
It remains to be seen in these early stages if any charges will be filed. If action is taken, however, the fines levied would likely cut deeply into the company’s balance sheet.
According to Reuters, at issue are the pair of recalls that affected nearly 1.7 million vehicles in the United States. At the time, Hyundai recalled 470,000 Sonata sedans in September 2015 when it was discovered certain 2011 and 2012 copies of the things were manufactured with too much metal flashing on particular engine components, which can break off and wreak havoc on the motor internals.
Specifically, some of the models built between December 2009 and April 2012 may have been assembled with engine crankshafts that weren’t fully cleared of “metallic debris.” That debris was allegedly capable of blocking oil flow to the connecting rod bearings. Absent of the all-important oil, rod damage could occur and produce a “metallic, cyclic knocking noise” that could lead to engine failure.
Hyundai and Kia recalled nearly 1.2 million additional cars in the States for engine failures after customers reported motors going kaboom after the original 2015 recall. Included in the new action were the 2013/14 Sonata and Santa Fe, 2011-13 Kia Sportage, 2011-14 Optima, and 2012-14 Sorento.
Reuters says its source tell them the DOJ, which won’t confirm or deny the existence or non-existence of a probe, has launched a criminal investigation into the matter. The news service goes on to say that Kim Gwang-ho, an engineer at Hyundai and a company veteran of 26 years, has apparently told the NHTSA that the companies should have recalled more vehicles during the original action back in 2015.
This is an issue that won’t go away for the company. In January of last year, Hyundai settled a class-action lawsuit for certain Sonata owners who were dinged with thousands of dollars in repair bills for this issue. Allegedly, dealers were not honoring warranties due to what they considered improper maintenance. At the time, corporate cousin Kia said it also had to tell dealers not to refuse warranty work simply because a customer couldn’t provide service records of oil changes.
All this comes at a poor time for the Korean automaker. Its Hyundai arm is down 1.8 percent in American sales volume compared to last year, while Kia is down a single percentage point. Its new Genesis luxury brand is off by a murderous 45 percent in 2018, failing to crack the 10,000 unit mark so far this year. Like it or not, that brand needs an SUV in its ranks posthaste.
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