States Launch Probe into Hyundai-Kia Engine Fires

March 18, 2019 at 6:28 PM

Several states are investigating whether Hyundai Motor Co. and its Kia Motors affiliate broke state consumer protection laws in their handling of engine flaws that could cause fires, Reuters reports.

Connecticut Attorney General William Tong says his office has begun its own investigation into the matter and is being joined by an unspecified number of other states.

Hyundai and Kia have issued three recalls over the past four years that cover about 1.7 million vehicles in the U.S. But the slow pace and expanding nature of the campaigns have already attracted federal scrutiny.

The recalls began in 2015 with 470,000 Hyundai Sonata sedans, which expanded by 572,000 vehicles two years later. At that point, Kia recalled 618,000 vehicles powered by the same engines.

Last summer the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration began an investigation into complaints about spontaneous engine fires. NHTSA began the probe at the urging of the Center for Auto Safety and U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla).

A few months later the U.S. Senate’s commerce committee demanded an explanation of reported engine fires involving the company’s Theta II family of 4-cylinder engines.

By November, federal prosecutors in New York City were probing the same issues. The Center for Auto Safety claims even more vehicles should be covered by the recalls.