By on November 21, 2018

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.

2011 Hyundai Sonata

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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10 Comments on “DOJ Possibly Investigating Hyundai/Kia Recall Activity...”

  • avatar

    I went through both of these recalls on my 2011 & 2013 Sonatas along with a bunch of others. Both engines passed.

    The 2011 started burning oil shortly after 100k. Now over 130k and sold to my sister-in-law, I’m adding a quart every 500 miles for her. I wish it had gone kaboom!

  • avatar

    I’m growing more and more apprehensive about my 2015 Optima turbo, and it being the only model year of the same generation not being talked about. I got a ‘product improvement campaign’ letter to have an ECU software update that’ll include a new knock sensor to supposedly alert me before damage occurs. Finally called to book a service apt and they can’t have me in til the first week of December.

    It comes with a transferable lifetime warranty for damage from connecting rod bearings, so that’s a bit of peace of mind.

    It’s been a flawless car but with only 30000kms after 3 years, thinking I should move on to something new sooner than later.

    • 0 avatar

      I have one too and just got the work done. Mine has about 90k miles and works fine, but boy do I regret buying into this company. I’m in some Optima Facebook groups and have heard stories of people’s replaced engines failing. Once I’m financially ready to dump it I’m out. Never risking into a car purchase again

      • 0 avatar

        My 2013 sonata was running perfectly before the software update. 13 days later 2-7-2019 car went into limp mode. 2 weeks later they say it’s fixed. “Wire harness went bad for knock sensor…. drove 8 miles same thing. Limp mode. 3 days later they say wire harness they put on was bad… now 2 more weeks later heard nothing. No one will call or return messages.even though other techs at dealership were stating my engine was bad.

  • avatar

    Hyundai needs to work on engine and powertrain design to make their systems competitive; the Theta design is nearing 10 years old, but….The quality control issues in one of the companies highest-volume engines begs for a Samsung-chairman-TV-smashing-circa-’95 to make a point. I’m very pro-union, but Hyundai’s union shops pay workers upwards of 80k a year, and yet these quality issues persist? If it’s a processes issue, that’s different, but in any case, Hyundai’s far better off trying to make amends for past mistakes than trying to ignore them. It’s a savvy enough company that it should already know that.

  • avatar

    I think I have just read an article that might be useful for anyone who also experienced similar problems with their cars at, especially if the automakers haven’t recalled the cars. Hope this helps.

  • avatar

    I work part time for a company that inventories dealer parts departments and what I see sitting in the back rooms of every single Hyundai and Kia dealer is more than enough to keep from ever considering one of their vehicles. The last Hyundai store we counted had 31 engine cores awaiting pickup, an that was only about a month’s worth of engines…

  • avatar

    I’m waiting for Hyundai/Kia to recall the 7-speed dual-clutch transmission for issues that plagued MY 2016 and onward Tucson, Veloster, Sonata, and Optima. I recently test drove a 2019 Veloster Turbo, and that car’s DCT behaved perfectly, so maybe these earlier vehicles can be retrofitted with updated parts. Perhaps that will be part of a settlement from the lawsuit that’s pending against them for the drivability problems associated with the earlier gearboxes.

  • avatar

    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?

  • avatar

    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?

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