By on November 8, 2018

Image: Kia Motors

A hearing that was expected to bring together representatives of Hyundai and Kia and the Senate Commerce Committee, scheduled for November 14th, has been called off.

The committee hoped to gleam information and answers on reports of engine fires in certain Hyundai/Kia products — a long-burning issue, pardon the pun, that’s increasing ever greater attention, especially from public safety groups. Recent media reports made it look like representatives didn’t plan to attend.

According to Reuters, there’s a chance the meeting might be rescheduled. There’s been no break-off in communication between the automakers and the committee, leaving the door open to a hearing.

“While the committee does not anticipate convening a hearing on vehicle fire safety next week as previously contemplated, discussions among the committee and two auto manufacturers about participation at a future date remain ongoing,” said Frederick Hill, spokesman for Commerce Committee Chair Sen. John Thune, on Thursday.

Leading the charge for a recall is the Center for Auto Safety, which claims a large and growing body of evidence points to a serious issue. Last month, the group outlined 103 complaints sent to either the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration or itself in the four-month period between June 12th and October 12th. The fires in question erupt quickly, and are not the result of a collision.

Hyundai claims it welcomes more oversight on the issue and shares the committee’s goal, while Kia released a statement saying, “to quickly and effectively address non-collision fire incidents, (the company) is using in-house and third-party fire-investigation companies and has engaged an independent senior fire expert to evaluate the results of such fire event investigations.”

The last few years have seen a slew of recalls related to engine debris and stalling in vehicles equipped with the ubiquitous Theta II powerplant. While the NHTSA opened an investigation into 1.7 million Hyundai and Kia vehicles last year, the Center for Auto Safety says the automakers dragged their feet on the recalls, claiming that over 2.9 million vehicles (all 2011-2014 Kia Sorento, Kia Optima, Hyundai Sonata, and Hyundai Santa Fe, and 2010-2015 Kia Soul models) should be recalled immediately.

For its part, Hyundai Motor Group claims it’s moving quickly on the repair process, fixing an “above average” number of recalled vehicles to date.

[Image: Kia Motors]

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5 Comments on “Hyundai-Kia Senate Hearing Called Off; Fire Concerns Remain...”

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    “glean”, not “gleam”

    Also, whatever causes the fire issue is unrelated to the engine debris comments at the end of the story. In that case, H/K’s 3rd-party mfr of crankshafts forgot to clean machining chips out of the crankshaft oil passages.

    • 0 avatar

      I think that some or even many of the fires may be unrelated to the engine seizure problem. However, I went and read through numerous consumer complaints from people whose Hyundais and Kias self-immolated. In several complaints that I read, the engine seized and the fire started while these people were waiting for service.

      So I think the two problems are in fact related. I have a theory about it. I see that many of the recent H&K cars are equipped with push-button start. I would say a natural reaction to a car stalling while driving was to try re-starting it. If the crankshaft is seized or broken, then clearly the engine will not re-start. I wonder if the car’s safety algorithm for the push-button start is not fully fleshed out, leading to the starter motor engaging fruitlessly, with excessive current draw, overheating the wiring, and causing fires that way?

  • avatar

    bUt tHEy’Ve coME a LoNg WAy fROm whAt thEY USed tO MakE

  • avatar

    I received a ‘Product Improvement Campaign’ letter for my 2.0 Optima, telling me to bring my car in for a software update to the ECU. In exchange they’re providing a ‘limited lifetime warranty’ for engine long block assembly repairs needed due to excessive connecting rod bearing damage.

    Maybe when they get thru this they’ll work on a way to get around a recall for the fires.

  • avatar

    Well shoot! I happen to have that exact car in the picture and 70k miles on the odo and it has had no fires to date;) I did get a cagey letter from Kia stating there will be a recall but more info to come. I assumed it was related to the airbag issue going around but now I think it must be engine fires!

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