Federal Regulators to Investigate Nearly 3 Million Hyundai and Kia Vehicles for Fire Hazard
A new investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) into Korean automakers Hyundai and Kia will look into whether the companies recalled enough vehicles and if the recall itself was timely. According to a report on CNET.com, the two recalls involved about 1.7 million vehicles and were related to engine defects. The federal probe is looking into the timeliness of the recalls and will determine whether or not the recall covered as many vehicles as it should have. If NHTSA finds that Hyundai and Kia are at fault, the automakers could be forced to dole out a big fine.
Focus of the Federal Probe
The original recall covered just 470,000 of the 2011-2012 Sonata sedans. The problem was that debris left over from the manufacturing process could affect the vehicles’ engines to the point where they may seize and cause the vehicles to stall. Following that recall action, a whistleblower flew to Washington from South Korea to tell federal regulators that Hyundai did not recall as many vehicles as it should have, citing internal documents.
It took Hyundai until March 31, 2017 to expand its recall to include another 572,000 vehicles including the 2013-2014 Sonata and Santa Fe Sport. Kia eventually issued a recall at that time as well, covering about 618,000 2011-2014 Optima, 2012-2014 Sorento and 2011-2013 Sportage.
What is at the heart of the investigation is the fact that the companies took more than a year to expand the recall to include those additional vehicles. Kia was aware that its vehicles had the same “Theta II” engines as the Hyundai vehicles. So, why did the company take so long to recall them? The same goes for Hyundai in terms of the time they took to recall the additional vehicles. Both companies have said they are fully cooperating with the NHTSA investigation.
The Importance of Timely Recalls
The law requires automakers to recall vehicles with safety-related defects or those vehicles that do not meet federal safety standards. Generally, a safety-related defect is a problem that exists in a motor vehicle or vehicle part that could pose a risk to vehicle safety and may exist in a group of vehicles of the same design or manufacturer or items of equipment that are of the same type and manufacture.
Within a reasonable time after the determination of a safety defect or noncompliance, manufacturers must notify all registered owners and purchasers of the affected vehicles about the existence of the problem, explain the potential safety hazards and let them know when and how the repairs will be made. The law requires that these notifications be made in a timely manner so that consumers are not put in harm’s way by the defective vehicles.
If you or a loved one has been injured as the result of an auto defect, please contact an experienced auto product liability lawyer who will remain on your side, fight for your rights and help ensure that the negligent automakers are held liable.