NHTSA Opens Probe Into 3 Million Hyundai and Kia Vehicles Over Fires; Veloster Recalled Over Stalling Issue

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
nhtsa opens probe into 3 million hyundai and kia vehicles over fires veloster

This isn’t an April Fools joke, sadly, for Hyundai and Kia Motors. After years of investigations and the recall of over 2.3 million models, Hyundai’s engine controversy has sparked a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Agency probe into nearly 3 million vehicles.

Immediately preceding the weekend, Hyundai recalled 16,487 Velosters to mend a software glitch that could lead to stalling and fires. The automaker just can’t seem to turn down the heat on a quality issue that simmered for years before boiling over.

We’ll cover the safety probe first. The NHTSA claims its investigation is a direct result of the advocacy efforts of the Center for Auto Safety, which has rung the alarm bell on the spate of non-crash fires in older Hyundai and Kia vehicles.

After receiving reports of 3,100 fires, 103 injuries, and a single death “based on the agency’s analysis of information received from multiple manufacturers, consumer complaints and other sources,” the federal safety agency launched a two-pronged investigation; one for Hyundai, another for Kia. Vehicles under scrutiny are the 2011-2014 Hyundai Sonata and Santa Fe, 2011-2014 Kia Optima and Sorento, and the 2010-2015 Kia Soul.

In its petition to the agency, the Center for Auto Safety outlined how certain Hyundai and Kia models, in the absence of crashes, pose a greater fire risk than other vehicles. It isn’t just the product of the automaker’s well-publicised engine debris issues, either. While some owners complained of engine fires, other reports noted fires involving tail light housings, wiring harnesses, and light bulbs.

Last November, the U.S. launched a criminal investigation into the automaker to determine if it handled the recall process in a timely enough manner. The impetus came from a South Korean whistleblower who shed light on the company’s handling of the matter, raising concerns that the recalls were unnecessarily delayed — and covered too few vehicles.

As for last Friday’s recall, the callback covers 16,487 2013 Hyundai Veloster hatchbacks. Hyundai claims faulty software could lead to engine stalls or a fire. The electronic glitch could lead to the premature ignition of the fuel-air mix, leading to higher-than-normal pressures and potential engine damage.

This problem isn’t related to the engine issue that plagued millions of vehicles equipped with the automaker’s Theta II four-cylinders. With those engines, engine debris left over from the manufacturing process can prevent proper oil flow, damaging connecting rod bearings.

[Sources: Associated Press, Reuters] [Image: Hyundai]

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  • E30gator E30gator on Apr 02, 2019

    Damn, I've been seriously looking into getting a '13-14 Sonata as my daily beater. There so much cheaper than anything else of a comparable age/mileage. Since there have been massive recalls, wouldn't this mean that most of these have has their issues addressed?

    • SCE to AUX SCE to AUX on Apr 02, 2019

      Maybe. The 11 Sonata I mentioned above was purchased used in 2013, from the same dealer who sold it new. When I asked if the recalls had been addressed, it turned out that there were already 4 recalls (at the time) which had *not* been. The dealer had done nothing about them. There should be a law requiring all used cars to have their recall work done and documented prior to sale.

  • Saturnotaku Saturnotaku on Apr 02, 2019

    DCT investigation and recall next?

  • Fred Ford needs to understand that 99.99% of those who said they should build it, won't be buying it. That the small number who will be able to buy it, will flip it for profit. I want to see it on the racetrack and driven by good drivers in sanctioned events. Not in auctions or BAT
  • MQHokie Picked up my X3M40i from the BMW Performance Center in South Carolina last week, and immediately drove it on US178 in SC, NC215, a stretch of the Blue Ridge Parkway, NC28 through the Fontana Dam area, and over Tail of the Dragon into TN. All very enjoyable once the slowpokes got out of the way. Also drove the entire Skyline Drive on my way home, but it was raining and pretty foggy, so that wasn't as much fun as it might have been.
  • Spookiness I have heard countless stories of people not being served alcohol because their District of Columbia driver's license was refused on the grounds that international ID was not acceptable. Most people know when travelling to carry their passport as backup. I also know one person who got infraction for not displaying vehicle registration expiration stickers. DC plates say "See Window Sticker" in the place where a sticker would normally go.
  • Mattwc1 I drove a right hand drive Samurai in the Caymans years ago. They are perfect beach vehicles and go anywhere off-roaders. They were everywhere in the late 1980s (to think these were many of my peers first cars. We really didn’t care about safety back then).However, I couldn’t imagine driving this every day. Sprung stiffer than a Cj-5 , underpowered, and super easy to tip over. Definitely a vehicle for a specific use purpose.
  • Xidex my dad had this exact car, same colour. Only differences was his had the blue interior that was velour i think and it had the rare continental kit on the trunk lid. nicest driving car ive ever driven and so comfy. Had the quadraphonic 8 track also. 1975 model i believe.