By on April 21, 2021

Seltos

Kia has recalled 2021 Seltos SUVs and 2020-21 Soul wagons with 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engines. 147,249 vehicles are involved. Inconsistent piston ring heat treating may cause engine damage. This can lead to a loss of power, and an increased risk of fires or crashing.

Seltos

2020-2021 Kia Souls produced between 11/24/2018-10/24/2020, and 2021 Seltos produced between 11/20/2019-10/15/2020 are being recalled. Owners are being notified to bring their Seltos and Soul vehicles to a Kia dealership for inspection. Dealerships will inspect the engine. Added software will detect if there are problems. Replacement engines are the final solution.

Seltos

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NTHSA), four engine fires may have taken place as a result of this deficiency. However, there have been no accidents or injuries reported. Note the 17-digit vehicle identification number (VIN) found on your vehicle. You can call Kia’s customer service at 800-333-4542, or log on to the NHTSA’s website at www.nhtsa.gov. The NHTSA campaign number is 21V259000, and Kia’s recall number is SC209. The NHTSA website will indicate if your vehicle has any open recalls.

In October 2020, Kia Motors North America (KNMA) became aware of a 2020 Soul with an engine noise that stalled after stopping. KMNA confirmed the engine had seized and notified Kia Motors Corporation (KMC). KMC had the Soul’s engine returned to Korea for evaluation. Difficulties in finding the vehicle led to a delay.

KMC received the engine on January 6, 2021, and after teardown found the chipped oil ring, scratched cylinder bore, and seized connecting rod bearing. In February 2021, a 2020 Kia Soul with oil leaking on the exhaust caught on fire. The connecting rod created a hole in the engine block. KMC further evaluated the issue to determine the cause. The oil ring problem caused engine replacement claims. KMNA decided on April 6, 2021, to conduct a recall after determining four fires were related to this issue.

[Images: Kia]

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34 Comments on “Kia 2021 Seltos and 2020-21 Soul are Flaming Hot...”


  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    The number of Kia vehicles involved in fatal motor vehicle crashes in the U.S. has been steadily increasing (latest available data):

    https://cdan.nhtsa.gov/query

    – Select ‘Vehicles’
    – Under ‘Select Vehicle Make and Model’ choose “Kia” [might even work for other makes?]
    – Select ‘Submit’
    – Take a well-deserved break because whew that was exhausting

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    “Inconsistent piston ring heat treating”

    Hyundai/Kia needs to get better control over their suppliers. How do you screw up a vanilla 2.0?

    ‘Inspection’ probably consists of an acoustic check (ala 2.4 crankshafts) and a pat on the head. Are they really going to perform compression checks and borescope inspections, or pull the pan/head and look around?

    That volume sounds like it affects every Seltos made with this engine, and I wonder if it extends to other cars like the Elantra, etc.

  • avatar
    Lorenzo

    In the 21st century, there’s no excuse for engine internals like piston rings to be defective. It makes you wonder how rigorous their manufacturing processes are. Can a buyer be sure of piston rods, or crankshaft main bearings? Parts that should last the life of the engine?

    These are not high performance engines, but humdrum inline fours, the kind that have been manufactured for a century. The only time piston rings should be a concern is after years of high mileage, not a year or less after manufacture. Buyers shouldn’t be worrying about them causing engine fires or crashes either.

    Kia, and Hyundai, have a reputation for interiors of cheap materials that fall apart long before they should. They should at least make sure their mechanicals don’t do the same.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      “In the 21st century, there’s no excuse for engine internals like piston rings to be defective.”

      I can’t think of any manufacturer over the past decade that hasn’t had piston ring issues requiring a recall, TSB, or warranty extension on at least one engine family.

      It generally doesn’t cause a fire though.

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      “Can a buyer be sure of piston rods, or crankshaft main bearings?”

      No. They have been screwing those up long before this ring issue on the Theta engines…an engine family they have seemingly been building forever.

      But hey, that Telluride sure looks nice, and they are a very inclusive company.

      • 0 avatar
        teddyc73

        @ Art Vandelay…How does being “inclusive” make a company better? I don’t care what the sexual orientation, race, or religion an individual is or if a person pretends to be the opposite sex or a tree. I just want people to do a good job and build a quality product. The mix of people in a company makes zero difference.

    • 0 avatar
      SPPPP

      Simple components like piston rings and bearings got figured out decades ago. Then emission requirements got tougher and the car market got more competitive. Every few years, someone minimizes a component to get a 0.1% improvement in emissions or cost efficiency. If it works, we don’t hear about it. When it fails, we do.

  • avatar
    ajla

    H/K has too many recalls related to their vehicles catching on fire.

  • avatar
    redapple

    I m the resident H K Hater. I admit it.

    I m involved in Materials Science. I know just how easy it is to; 1. Verify Chemistry in Ferrous materials
    2. Heat Treatment of same.

    Decidedly NOT rocket science.
    So, above is evidence of poor quality management. More examples.
    #2- high level of burned out tail lights / rear brake lights.
    #3 – 5 year old HK with interiors that look like 10 year old ones.
    #4- 3rd world car vehicle dynamics/ dampening.
    #5- Real bad resale. H K is say $3000 less when you buy it. (over an Accord or Camry). But you get $5000 less at trade in.

    OK. So, your overall cost of ownership is HIGHER for an INFERIOR CAR.

    I could go on. But whats the point. I ll just get slammed. Not DEADWeight levels, but still….

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      Oh no…you can claim to ba “A” hater, but you definitely aren’t “THE” hater.

      With respect to number 5 on your list, know that you get a little extra back via the class action to help ballance that out FWIW.

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      #6 low trim models feel rental/corporate “delete all” vehicles
      #7 Cars equipped with clutches don’t have good clutch uptake
      #8 switchgear feels lousy

    • 0 avatar
      Dan

      That matches my HK experience. Screaming bargain up front but you give most of it back on the other end. I thought I’d get around that by keeping it for a while but didn’t consider why you give it back on the other end – because a 100K Hyundai feels like a 200K Accord and tempts you to move on every time you drive it.

      Also, regarding the burned out lights, which mine did all the time, the third brake light on a 06-10 Gen Sonata is screwed in to the back deck from below with access requiring laying on your back in the trunk and fishing blind through 1/2″ access holes – and if you dropped a screw it’d get lost and rattle around in there for the remainder of the life of the car. If you see someone driving around with theirs out that’s probably why.

  • avatar
    Steve203

    This appears to be another iteration of the Nu series engine. The 1.8 was recalled some time ago.

    Various iterations of the Theta II have been recalled over the years.

    It’s always some easily corrected excuse: “debris from the manufacturing process”, now “piston rings”, but the result is always the same fires and seized engines. Anyone else think Hyundai/Kia engines are simply prone to fires and seizing up and the “manufacturing debris” and “rings” are just excuses to cover up fundamentally, terminally, flawed engine designs?

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      I don’t think that. Most of their engines go the distance, but these 3rd-party QC issues are maddening. H/K seems to be skimping on QC.

      For example, proper heat treatment of a piston ring could be determined via a sampling plan that verifies the hardness and depth of the treatment, plus a certificate of conformity from the supplier. Finding a baddie means you quarantine the entire lot of piston rings *before* they get into an engine or a car.

      Recalling gazillions of cars in the wild means they’ve not implemented such basic QC measures.

      • 0 avatar
        Steve203

        @ SCE to AUX

        If this was a one-off issue, I could buy the bad 3rd party parts story. But it isn’t a one-off. Nu and Theta series engines have been recalled repeatedly. Recalled for different excuses, but the symptoms are always the same, fires and seized engines. The H/K fix is always the same: first patch the engine management software to detect bearing knocks, then replacement engines.

        Meanwhile, the FCA Tigershark, which is based on the Theta, is now the subject of a campaign for excessive oil consumption.

        So, either K/K’s engine production QC is really bad, and they haven’t gotten their arms around the issue over a period of years, or the designs are fundamentally defective. The fact that FCA is having problems with the Tigershark, which is made in Dundee, MI, in a plant that is now completely owned by FCA, points at defective design.

        • 0 avatar
          ajla

          “points at defective design.”

          Such as? Component problems still seems far more likely than an engineering defect. That’s still a poor reflection on H/K.
          I think the issue on the Tigershark is also due to rings.
          The Mitsubishi 4B1 family uses the Theta/Tigershark architecture as well, are they having the same problems?

        • 0 avatar
          SCE to AUX

          @Steve203:

          The Theta issue was chips left in crankshafts by the 3rd party mfr. Interestingly, our hybrid with the same 2.4 engine didn’t have the recall because it was made in Korea instead of the US.

          No matter, H/K ultimately owns this, regardless of what their suppliers do.

  • avatar
    sentience

    Replacement engines are a potential solution? That’s pretty damning for two cars that are only a model year or two old.

    Very disappointing QAQC problem. I’ve sat in both (outside of my personal 6’5″ with god-help-me dimensions issue) I still think very highly of them, see them as competitive in their segments.

  • avatar
    sentience

    Replacement engines are a potential solution? That’s pretty damning for two cars that are only a model year or two old.

    Very disappointing QAQC problem. I’ve sat in both (outside of my personal 6’5″ with god-help-me dimensions issue) I still think very highly of them, see them as competitive in their segments.

  • avatar
    sentience

    Replacement engines are a potential solution? That’s pretty damning for two cars that are only a model year or two old.

    Very disappointing QAQC problem. I’ve sat in both (outside of my personal 6’5″ with god-help-me dimensions issue) I still think very highly of them, see them as competitive in their segments.

  • avatar
    sentience

    Replacement engines are a potential solution? That’s pretty damning for two cars that are only a model year or two old.

    Very disappointing QAQC problem. I’ve sat in both (outside of my personal 6’5″ with god-help-me dimensions issue) I still think very highly of them, see them as competitive in their segments.

  • avatar
    sentience

    Replacement engines are a potential solution? That’s pretty damning for two cars that are only a model year or two old.

    Very disappointing QAQC problem. I’ve sat in both (outside of my personal 6’5″ with god-help-me dimensions issue) I still think very highly of them, see them as competitive in their segments.

  • avatar
    indi500fan

    “The connecting rod created a hole in the engine block.”

    I assume this was driven a good while with the rod knocking hard. Is this a sign of a wonderfully insulated passenger compartment or a clueless driver in a stupor? That oil pressure light might as well be another turn signal LOL.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      By the time the oil pressure light turns on your engine is already f*cked 90% of the time.

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      I took mine to the shop with excessive engine noise and oil consumption. The diagnostic procedure was an oil consumption test which meant you had to continue to drive it, even though everyone in the service bay could hear the knock.

      The fix was to not buy another Hyundai.

  • avatar
    Moose5763

    Another day,another recall…my question is with all the recalls lately, I think the actual companies that make the parts should be held liable with fines …arent these parts supposed to be tested and work right every time? Is it just poor quality control on the part of the companies that actually manufactured the parts??

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      That’s between the supplier and the company that has their badge on the front. Hyundai/Kia or whoever needs to fix it and then take it up with the supplier assuming they did something outside of what they were contracted to do. That process should not involve the end consumer.

  • avatar

    I continue my boycott of Hyundai/KIA despite of their support of LBGT and Bureau of Land Management.

    BTW this issue is another reason to switch to BEVs – they don’t have pistons.

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