US Auto Safety Regulators Investigate Hyundai and Kia Engine Fires


The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration has begun investigating issues in cars that were manufactured by Kia and Hyundai due to the recall of nearly 500,000 vehicles that are high risk for engine fires.

In December, The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration has launched an investigation into potentially widespread defects in cars manufactured by Kia and Hyundai. According to a report by the Associated Press, the inquiry will look at “more than 3 million vehicles from the 2011 through 2016 model years,” stemming from 161 reports it received about engine fires.  A few months after the NHTSA announced its investigation, Hyundai and Kia announced the recall of almost 500,000 vehicles that may be at risk of engine fires. 

As Consumer Reports noted earlier this month, the cars covered by the recall included the “2016-2018 Hyundai Santa Fe, 2017-2018 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport, 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe XL, 2014-2015 Hyundai Tucson, and 2014-2016 Kia Sportage SUVs, and the 2016-2018 Kia K900 sedan.” The cars share a “faulty” Hydraulic Electronic Control Unit, according to Consumer Reports, citing records Kia gave the NHTSA during the investigation. 

The recall follows hefty fines issued by the NHTSA against Kia and Hyundai in 2020, ordering the companies to pay $137 million over failures to expeditiously recall vehicles “with engines that can fail.” According to the Associated Press, the Center for Auto Safety’s data indicated that since 2015, the manufacturers had issued 31 recalls related to fire and engine issues. Per Consumer Reports, some of these recalls also concerned “brake fluid leaks, faulty oil pans, fuel leaks, oil leaks, ABS sensor issues, HECU issues, and engine problems.” 

In a statement about the NHTSA investigation in December, Hyundai stressed its cooperation with authorities. “Hyundai has taken numerous proactive actions to address engine issues, including conducting several recalls, launching a new engine monitoring technology, providing extended warranties and enhancing our customer service response,” the company said, according to the Associated Press. “Hyundai fosters a culture of transparency and accountability as the safety of our customers is the top priority in everything we do.”

More information about the safety investigation into Hyundai and Kia, as well as the companies’ recalls, is available via the Associated Press and Consumer Reports. 

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