Federal Investigators to Examine Hyundai and Kia Engine Failures
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Federal Investigators to Examine Hyundai and Kia Engine Failures

Tuesday, August 21, 2018By Nina Shapirshteyn

A federal investigation related to engine defects in certain Hyundai and Kia models may also answer questions about why explosions are occurring in these vehicles. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently announced that it will examine non-collision fires in cars manufactured by Hyundai and Kia that have reported engine defects.

The Center for Auto Safety (CAS) initially filed a petition requesting that federal authorities initiate a probe of non-crash fires in Hyundai and Kia vehicles. The petition also sought information about whether engineering updates are necessary. Following CAS’s petition, the NHTSA announced that it had received over 400 complaints about fires in cars. These fires occurred in cars that experienced collisions and in cars that were not involved in any sort of crash. Announcement of the investigation was sent to Senator Bill Nelson of Florida, who implored the NHTSA to accelerate the pace of its investigation given the serious threat to driver safety resulting from these explosions.

Three years ago, Hyundai and Kia recalled a total of over 1.6 million cars for sudden engine failure. The recalls began in September, 2015 when Hyundai discovered that debris can limit oil flow which can cause bearings in the engine to fail. Then, in March 2017, two more recalls were announced related to the same engine failure issue. In May, 2017, the NHTSA began an investigation to determine whether the recalls were proceeding quickly enough. The automakers alleged that they were complying with the investigation in a timely manner and had implemented a system to track and report vehicle fires. Hyundai confirmed that the company is prepared to take additional action if the NHTSA determines that other repairs are necessary. The NHTSA is authorized to enforce penalties or initiate additional recalls if it determines that companies do not act swiftly enough.

Non-collision fires were added to the ongoing investigation due to the high number of complaints from consumers with engine failures and fires occurring simultaneously. There were at least 23 reports of fires in Hyundai and Kia vehicles in Florida alone in 2014. Although safety experts maintain that non-collision fires are possible in newer cars, the number of spontaneous fires in Hyundai and Kia vehicles exceeded normal range.

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