A federal agency is investigating Hyundai and Kia after reports of over 3,100 fires, 103 injuries and one death allegedly attributed to the vehicles.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said it was opening the probes into nearly three million models of Hyundai and Kia cars prompted by a petition from the Center for Auto Safety, a nonprofit advocate, according to NPR.
What investigations revealed
Several years of Hyundai and Kia recalls due to vehicles fires preceded the federal investigations.
“Hopefully, this step will quickly lead to a recall being issued as soon as possible. The reality is that extended investigations do not protect Kia and Hyundai owners – that requires recalls which result in effective repairs,” said Jason Levine, executive director of the Center for Auto Safety.
The federal probe focused on Hyundai’s 2011-2014 Sonata and Santa Fe, Kia’s 2011-2014 Optima and Sorento and Kia's 2010-2015 Soul.
The South Korea-based automakers have received 3,125 reports of fires that were not sparked by a collision, according to the federal agency. Agency records show one recorded fatality.
Investigations will "assess the scope, frequency, and potential safety-related consequences of alleged defects" relating to "non-collision" fires in the vehicles, according to the agency.
An analysis of insurance records by the Highway Loss Data Institute found certain years of Hyundai and Kia models had higher rates of non-crash fires than other vehicles. The institute’s findings pointed to problems with the 2-liter and 2.4-liter Theta II engines in certain models.
The Highway Loss Data Institute is affiliated with the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, an independent, nonprofit scientific and educational organization dedicated to reducing deaths, injuries and property damage from motor vehicle crashes.
Hyundai and Kia have issued several recalls since 2015 because of engine failures and fires. That includes a recall of over 500,000 vehicles in February, including several hundred thousand Kia Souls.
Since September 2015, the companies have recalled nearly 2.4 million vehicles for fire and engine-failure problems, according to the Associated Press. Hyundai recalled about 20,000 Veloster cars in the U.S. and Canada in March because of engine problems that can cause stalls and fires.
Officials told the AP the companies are installing software in another 3.7 million vehicles that will alert drivers of possible engine failures and send vehicles into a reduced-speed mode if problems are detected.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said the recalls since September 2015 were related to engine fires, but the new investigation may uncover systems beyond engine components.
The Center for Auto Safety also asked the U.S. Congress to investigate the Hyundai and Kia vehicle fires.
“The Center for Auto Safety … requests Congressional action to save American lives and preserve property by holding Kia and Hyundai responsible for failing to recall and repair millions of vehicles which can burst into flames when being operated as intended,” the letter to Congress said.
The Center for Auto Safety was founded in 1970 by the nonprofit Consumers Union and Ralph Nader and is based in Washington D.C.
Contact the Law Offices Of Scott M. Miller in Florida today for issues related to Hyundai and Kia recalls or other vehicle crash or personal injury cases.