Kia Motor Corp. and its parent company Hyundai Motor Co. are recalling 1.4 million vehicles in the U.S., Canada and South Korea due to a risk that the engines can fail and stall, potentially causing a crash, according to documents posted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). According to the automakers, metal debris left over from engine manufacturing can clog oil to bearings, which causes temperatures to rise in the engines and the bearings to fail, which could make the car stall while running. A worn connecting rod bearing will also make a knocking noise from the engine, causing warning lights in the dashboard, according to the documents. “If the warnings are ignored and the vehicle is continued to be driven, the bearing may fail and the vehicle could stall while in motion,” Kia said in one document. The recall includes 2013 and 2014 Hyundai Santa Fe Sports and Sonatas, as well as 2011 through 2014 Kia Optimas, Kia Sportages from 2011 to 2013 and Kia Sorentos from 2012 through 2014.
The recalled cars all have either 2-Liter or 2.4-Liter engines, and the vehicles in the U.S. were all made at a Hyundai plant in Montgomery, Alabama. The companies will be mailing car owners starting May 19 and telling them to bring their cars to a dealer, which will inspect and replace the engine assembly, if necessary. The repairs will be free of charge. Owners also will be reimbursed for previous repair expenses. No accidents or injuries have been reported so far, according to the compaines. Kia extended warranties on the engines in May, but decided to voluntarily recall the cars because of anticipated risk concerns.
This is Hyundai’s second recall in two years for the same issue. In September 2015, the company recalled nearly half a million Sonatas because metallic debris may have been left in the vehicles’ engines at the same Alabama factory. The automaker said at the time that its model year 2011 and 2012 Sonatas were the first of its vehicles to be fitted with engines made at the plant. Hyundai changed its process for removing debris from the crankshaft in April 2012.
NHTSA first raised the Sonata issue with Hyundai in June 2015, but the automaker refrained from taking action on a recall because, it said, the vast majority of warranty claims it received showed that customers were responding to the noise coming from their engines, or the vehicle’s check engine light, and bringing their vehicles to service as a result of those warnings. But after NHTSA’s Office of Defects Investigation expressed concern that the cars could stall at higher speeds, Hyundai decided to conduct the recall, according to the report.
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