US Investigates Hyundai and KIA over Recalls

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The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has launched an investigation on recent recalls for Hyundai and Kia vehicles.

Recent recalls for defects in Hyundai Theta engines will be invested to reveal if the proper repairs have been made, the NHTSA reported. The subject of NHTSA’s investigation is to confirm the validity of the repairs made in 2015 and this year after both Hyundai and KIA recalled their vehicles with Theta engines.

When and if it is revealed that the two auto manufacturers were not prompt with reacting to the defected engines, both could be fined up to $10 million in addition to making additional recalls.

Hyundai initially recalled around 470,000 of its Sonata in 2015 as the engine made excessive noise, while some even turned off randomly at times. The problem was the Theta II engine. Hyundai later explained that the sanitary issue at their U.S.-based factory caused unwanted substance to get into the engine. However, KIA did not make the recall request despite using the same Theta II engine as it explained that its factory was based elsewhere.

On March 31 this year, Hyundai made additional recalls, expanding the number of vehicles to 572,000. On the same day, KIA also recalled 618,160 Optima, Sorento and Sportage. Eventually, the number of recalls on vehicles with the Theta II engines reached 1.19 million in the U.S. and 1.1 million in Canada.

The expanded recall hinted that what caused the defect in the engine may be more than what Hyundai and KIA have explained. The NHTSA is expected to investigate if their customers have suffered further troubles.

Hyundai explained Monday that it will provide timely repairs for any of its vehicle which have been affected by defects.

However, the concerns began to pile up since August last year when one of the anonymous sources, reportedly a former engineer at Hyundai, reported to the NHTSA that the company should have recalled more vehicles, but did not. Reuters reported at the time that the former engineer submitted a 250-page report on nine major defects in Hyundai vehicles, but it is not confirmed if that is what led to additional recalls on March 31.

Hyundai has been issuing recall notices starting last Friday via email.
In 2014, Hyundai was fined $17.3 million by the NHTSA for the delay in its recall for 43,500 Genesis vehicles with defected breaks.

The NHTSA warned Hyundai that it must reconsider its ways of recalling vehicles. That led to the government raising the maximum fine on auto manufacturers for delayed recalls to $105 million.

By Brian Choi