DOJ Possibly Investigating Hyundai/Kia Recall Activity

Matthew Guy
by Matthew Guy
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.

[Images: Hyundai]

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  • MichelleChristie86 MichelleChristie86 on Jan 08, 2019

    I'm wondering if the 2011 Hyundai Genesis Coupe 2.0L Turbo is on the list for this recall? Where can I see a complete list of cars?

  • MichelleChristie86 MichelleChristie86 on Jan 09, 2019

    I'm wondering if the 2011 Hyundai Genesis Coupe 2.0L Turbo is on the list for this recall? Where can I see a complete list of cars?

  • Jeff S I am not a fan of Tesla and they were niche vehicles but it seems that they have become more common. I doubt if I get an EV that it would be a Tesla. The electrical grid will have to be expanded because people over the long run are not going to accept the excuse of the grid can't handle people charging their EVs.
  • AMcA The '70 Continentals and Town Cars may have been cousins to the standard body Fords and Mercurys, they didn't have to be disguised, because they had unique, unbelievably huge bodies of their own. Looking at the new 1970 interior, I'd say it was also a cost savings in sewing the seat. Button tufted panels like the 1969 interior had require a lot of sewing and tufting work. The 1970 interior is mostly surface sewing on a single sheet of upholstery instead of laboriously assembled smaller pieces. FINALLY: do I remember correctly that the shag carpet shown under these cars was a Photoshop? They didn't really go so peak '70s as to photograph cars on shag carpets, did they?
  • Inside Looking Out Toyota makes mass market cars. Their statement means that EVs are not mass market yet. But then Tesla managed to make mass market car - Mode; 3. Where I live in CA there are more Tesla Model 3s on streets than Corollas.
  • Ltcmgm78 A lot of dirt must turn before there's an EV in every driveway. There must be a national infrastructure plan written by other than politicians chasing votes. There must be reliable batteries that hopefully aren't sourced from strategic rivals. There must be a way to charge a lot of EVs. Toyota is wisely holding their water. There is a danger in urging unplanned and hasty moves away from ICE vehicles. Do we want to listen to unending speeches every election cycle that we are closer than we have ever been to 100% electrification and that voting for certain folks will make it happen faster? Picture every car in your town suddenly becoming all electric and a third of them need a charge or the driver will be late for work. This will take a lot of time and money.
  • Kendahl One thing I've learned is that cars I buy for local errands tend to be taken on 1,000 mile trips, too. We have a 5-speed Focus SE that has gone on longer trips than I ever expected. It has served us well although, if I had it to do over again, I would have bought an ST. At the time of purchase, we didn't plan to move from 1,000 feet elevation to 6,500. The SE is still adequate but the ST's turbo and extra power would have been welcome.