Hyundai and Kia are issuing a massive recall following repeated reports that certain vehicles can randomly catch fire while driving.
At the center of this action is the Center for Auto Safety, an advocacy group that has been petitioning the NHTSA to investigate Hyundai and Kia vehicles for a fire risk. In a press release issued last October, the group says they have received 220 complaints regarding certain Hyundai and Kia models that randomly catch fire while being driven.
To address these complaints, Hyundai and Kia are both issuing a massive voluntary recall to upgrade engine sensors in affected vehicles. The recall affects nearly 4 million vehicles between the two marques, with over 2 million 2011-2018 Sonatas and 2013-2018 Santa Fe Sports being recalled by Hyundai. Kia is recalling 1.7 million vehicles, including 2011-2018 Optimas, 2012-2019 Sorentos, and 2011-2018 Sportages.
Hyundai and Kia plan to upgrade each vehicle’s knock sensor detection system, which detects early symptoms of engine bearing wear. "The knock sensor detection system software continuously monitors engine vibrations for unusual dynamic patterns that develop as an engine connecting rod bearing wears abnormally in a way that could later cause engine seizure," writes Hyundai in their release.
If the system detects a problem, the check engine light will shine, an audible chime will ding, and the car will be placed in “temporary protection mode” with reduced power. Speed will be limited to 60-65 mph and the engine will not rev higher than 2,000 rpm.
Hyundai is also extending the warranties on these vehicles to 10 years or 120,000 miles (up from 100,000 miles).
A smaller recall is also occurring for Hyundai and Kia vehicles that were recalled in 2015 and 2017 for engine failure. The Korean carmaker replaced the engines on many thousands of vehicles, but it turns out they may have done so with undue haste.
"In some cases, during engine replacements the high-pressure fuel pipe may have been damaged, misaligned or improperly torqued during the engine replacement procedure and this could allow fuel to leak."
Fuel leakage could lead to a fire risk. Hyundai says they are aware of no fires as a result of this problem, but the Center for Auto Safety disagrees.
Affected vehicles are certain 2011-2014 Sonatas 2013-2014 Hyundai Santa Fe Sports, while Kia is recalling 2011-2018 Optimas, Sorentos, and Sportages.