Kia Motors America and Hyundai Motor America, U.S. subsidiaries of South Korea’s Hyundai Motor Group, have initiated a recall of 500,000 light vehicles to repair different issues that raise the risk of engine fires. Kia is recalling nearly 380,000 Kia Soul compact crossovers from model years 2012 through 2016 and Hyundai is recalling 120,000 Hyundai Tucson compact SUVs from model years 2011 through 2013.
The Kia recall is due to possible damage to the catalytic converter from excessively high exhaust gas temperatures. If the catalytic converter is damaged, small particles may enter the engine’s combustion chamber and cause abnormal combustion. If the condition persists, one or more of the engine’s pistons could be damaged enough to break the piston rod, possibly leading to puncturing the engine block and allowing engine oil to escape. If the oil hits the hot exhaust surface it may ignite, causing a fire.
The cause of the problem, according to the company’s report to the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), is faulty logic in the vehicles’ catalytic overheating protection program. Owners of vehicles included in the recall will be told to bring the vehicle to a Kia dealer where an upgrade to the logic will be installed. If the catalytic converter has been damaged it will be replaced, and dealers will reimburse owners who have already paid for these repairs.
The 120,000 Hyundai Tucsons equipped with 2.4-liter engines may have an oil leak at the seal between the oil pan and the engine block. This could lead to engine damage if left unrepaired and could lead to a high-speed stall or, in some cases, a vehicle fire. The cause of the defect is given as an insufficient application of sealant material. Hyundai has not specified how it plans to repair the problem but did say that it would notify dealers and owners on March 29 with instructions for repairing the vehicles. The repair will be free to owners, and those who have already paid to repair the problem will be reimbursed.
More than 94,000 model year 2015 through 2018 Kia Sedona minivans also are being recalled to fix an issue with a wiring harness that may cause the harness to break and fail to suppress deployment of the front passenger airbag. This raises the risk of injury to a child who may be sitting in the front seat if a crash occurs.
On a smaller scale, Kia is recalling some 32,000 model year 2011 and 2012 Kia Sportage compact SUVs to repair the same oil leak affecting the Hyundai Tucson.