U.S. Opens Another Probe into Kia, Hyundai Engine Fires

April 01, 2019 at 3:11 PM

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has launched another investigation into a variety of engine problems that represent a fire risk in 3 million Hyundai and affiliate Kia vehicles.

The broadened probe follows an NHTSA investigation begun last June that was prompted by more than 400 owner complaints about engine fires that erupted spontaneously or after a crash. The review will cover certain Kia Optima, Sorrento and Soul models, and Hyundai Sonata and Santa Fe vehicles.

NHTSA says its Office of Defect Investigations undertook the new inquiry because of information from multiple sources that include consumer complaints and other manufacturers. The initiative also responds to a petition from the Center for Auto Safety that has been urging the agency since last summer to order a recall of some 3 million vehicles.

NHTSA has been studying Hyundai-Kia engine fire problems since 2007, Reuters reports. The news service notes that the carmakers have recalled some 2.3 million vehicles since 2015 because of various mechanical and electrical fire hazards.

Suspicions that Hyundai and Kia knew of engine defects but were too slow to respond to them have sparked a U.S. Senate hearing, multiple state civil investigations and a federal criminal probe.