Hyundai and Kia find in themselves in a bit of legal trouble. Last week, the law firm Hagens Berman filed a class-action lawsuit against the Korean automakers over an alleged defect on two engines; the 2.4L four-cylinder and turbocharged 2.0L four-cylinder from the Theta II family.
The defect in question is a flaw in the engine design that “restricts or blocks oil flow to the engine’s moving parts, such as connecting rod bearings, prematurely wearing out those parts to the point that the engine parts seize, which stops engine operation while running. Engine seizure often causes internal parts, such as the connecting rods, to break and knock a hole in the engine, permitting fluids to leak and ignite a fire,” according to the lawsuit. More than 350 complaints have been filed on National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA) on models equipped with these engines,
- 2011-2019 Hyundai Sonata
- 2011-2019 Kia Optima
- 2011-2019 Kia Sportage
- 2012-2019 Kia Sorento and Soul
- 2012-2019 Kia Soul
- 2013-2019 Hyundai Santa Fe
- 2013-2019 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport
Bloomberg reports that NHTSA has opened an investigation into the "timeliness and scope of the carmakers’ recalls related to manufacturing errors in “Theta II” engines." Hyundai has issued two recalls in 2015 and 2017 for certain Sonata and Santa Fe models. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York meanwhile has opened a criminal investigation into this issue.
When reached for comment, Hyundai Motor declined to say anything about the lawsuit. In a statement, the company said that “nothing is more important than the safety and security of Hyundai customers,” noting that it is
cooperating with the U.S. Department of Transportation and the NHTSA.
“Over the past three years, we have held numerous meetings with DOT and NHTSA representatives, and proactively discussed and identified possible safety items for NHTSA’s evaluation, including the engine recalls. NHTSA has been fully briefed and kept apprised of these recalls and low rates of associated non-collision fires,” said Hyundai Motor.