Hyundai/Kia Issue Recalls Over Fuel Line Leak, Fire Risk

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

Hyundai is reportedly recalling around 207,000 Sonata models in the U.S. over a fuel hose issue that could create a fire hazard. Kia issued a recall on 142,000 Optima sedans and 51,000 Sedonas minivans for the same issue. While there doesn’t appear to be any injuries stemming from the problem, Hyundai Motor Group has notified the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that the vehicles could incur a fuel leak that runs the risk of starting fires within the engine compartment.

The source of the issue has not been discovered; the NHTSA recall report stipulates that the manufacturer “believes the material used to produce the fuel feed line might be more susceptible to heat under certain vehicle operating conditions.” Be on the lookout for a less responsive motor, engine warning lights and the faint aroma of gasoline.

Problems are reportedly isolated to the fuel feed line connecting the low pressure fuel pump to the direct injection fuel pump in the subject vehicles. Hyundai said it could could develop a small crack over time due to ambient heat in the engine compartment. A spokesperson informed us that no actual fires have been reported and that the cars should be safe to drive while the automaker works out a solution.

The Center for Auto Safety released a letter last month (when the Kia models were called back) suggesting the recall was long overdue and referenced its own petition as evidence. “Today, 364 days since we called on Congress to investigate Kia and Hyundai for failure to recall these defective cars, these manufacturers continue to string out consumers when it comes to the possibility of their engine failing and their car exploding,” said Jason Levine, executive director of the group. “It is long past due for these almost 200,000 vehicles to have been recalled, and in fact, it is almost 2 years since the Center for Auto Safety originally petitioned for exactly such action.”

From the Center for Auto Safety:

Beginning in June 2018, the Center petitioned NHTSA to open a defect investigation into all 2011-2014 Kia Optima, Sorento and Hyundai Sonata and Santa Fe vehicles based on 120 owners reporting non-crash fires involving their vehicles. In July 2018, the Center added the 2010-2015 Kia Soul to our petition. In April 2019, NHTSA finally opened an investigation. In the interim, there have been a series of related recalls for some, but not all, of the vehicles originally identified by the Center. An additional 3.7 million vehicles covering even more model years have been subjected to a “product improvement campaign,” by Hyundai and Kia which includes a software update and installation of a knock sensor to detect the type of engine failure that leads to dangerous conditions, including risk of fire.

While the Center for Auto Safety definitely thinks this is a bigger issue, vehicles affected by the official recall campaigns include Kia Optimas from the 2013-14 model year, Sedonas from 2011-12 and Hyundai Sonatas from 2013-14. The supplier of the offending Sonata part is said to be Hanil Tube USA, while the Sedona recall documents name Delphi Powertrain Systems Korea as its supplier.

Dealers and owners will start seeings notifications in their mailbox this April.

[Image: Hyundai]

Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

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7 of 17 comments
  • Lokki Lokki on Mar 07, 2020

    I am hesitant to say that I am still hesitant to buy a Hyundai because I don’t feel ai can reliably trust that any vehicle I buy will be safe and reliable. I like what they are building and I keep wanting to think that they are a Japanese-car equivalent, but every time I have just about convinced myself of that... something like this pops up. Or this one: Hyundai Motor America is recalling certain 2018 Hyundai Santa Fe and Santa Fe Sport vehicles. The steering wheel assembly may break, possibly resulting in the steering wheel separating from the steering column while driving. Or this one: Due to an electronic stability control (ESC) sensor malfunction, the brakes for one or more wheels may be applied unexpectedly and the engine power may be reduced. These symptoms will be accompanied by illumination of the ESC indicator lamp in the instrument cluster.If the one or more of the brakes are inappropriately applied, control of the vehicle may be lost, increasing the risk of a crash. I know that everybody has recalls and that I am just being silly but...I can’t quite pull the trigger on one.

    • See 3 previous
    • JimZ JimZ on Mar 10, 2020

      @SCE to AUX no, technically he's had 17 problems. The recalls were just fixing the problems before they failed.

  • RHD RHD on Mar 07, 2020

    "Kia engineering"... is that an oxymoron? I'm exaggerating, of course, but fuel lines (and brake lines) are not the place to use barely-enough specification product, then bid it out to the lowest-cost Chinese supplier. Unfortunately, consumers have very short memories, and if the monthly payment is low enough, and the paint shiny enough, the problem of burning Kias won't amount to a hill of beans.

    • Conundrum Conundrum on Mar 09, 2020

      From the article: "The supplier of the offending Sonata part is said to be Hanil Tube USA, while the Sedona recall documents name Delphi Powertrain Systems Korea as its supplier." Chinese, you say?

  • JK I grew up with Dodge trucks in the US, and now live in Turin, Italy, the home of Fiat. I don't think Italians view this as an Italian company either. There are constant news articles and protests about how stalantis is moving operations out of Italy. Jeep is strangely popular here though. I think last time I looked at stelantis's numbers, Jeep was the only thing saving them from big big problems.
  • Bd2 Oh yeah, funny how Trumpers (much less the Orange Con, himself) are perfectly willing to throw away the Constitution...
  • Bd2 Geeze, Anal sure likes to spread his drivelA huge problem was Fisher and his wife - who overspent when they were flush with cash and repeatedly did things ad hoc and didn't listen to their employees (who had more experience when it came to auto manufacturing, engineering, etc).
  • Tassos My Colleague Mike B bought one of these (the 300 SEL, same champagne color) new around June 1990. I thought he paid $50k originally but recently he told me it was $62k. At that time my Accord 1990 Coupe LX cost new, all included, $15k. So today the same car means $150k for the S class and $35k-40k for the Accord. So those %0 or 62k , these were NOT worthless, Idiot Joe Biden devalued dollars, so he paid AN ARM AND A LEG. And he babied the car, he really loved it, despite its very weak I6 engine with a mere 177 HP and 188 LBFT, and kept it forever. By the time he asked me to drive it (to take him to the dealer because his worthless POS Buick Rainier "SUV" needed expensive repairs (yes, it was a cheap Buick but he had to shell out thousands), the car needed a lot of suspension work, it drove like an awful clunker. He ended up donating it after 30 years or so. THIS POS is no different, and much older. Its CHEAPSKATE owner should ALSO donate it to charity instead of trying to make a few measly bucks off its CARCASS. Pathetic!
  • RHD The re-paint looks like it was done with a four-inch paintbrush. As far as VWs go, it's a rebadged Seat... which is still kind of a VW, made in Mexico from a Complete Knock-Down kit. 28 years in Mexico being driven like a flogged mule while wearing that ridiculous rear spoiler is a tough life, but it has actually survived... It's unique (to us), weird, funky (very funky), and certainly not worth over five grand plus the headaches of trying to get it across the border and registered at the local DMV.