Hyundai and Kia have issued vehicle defect recall for more than 37,000 hybrid vehicles because of an oil leak that could cause a fire. According to an article on Consumer Reports, Hyundai is recalling 27,029 of its 2017 Ioniq, and Kia is recalling 10,156 of its 2017 Niro hybrid due to a faulty part that could cause oil to leak and create an electrical short. If that occurred, a fire could occur. The defect was apparently discovered during warranty repairs of vehicles with illuminated HEV warning lines. Both automakers say they are not aware of any fires, crashes or injuries related to the problem.
Understanding the Problem
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in the Kia vehicles, the hydraulic clutch actuator’s inner oil seal may leak allowing oil to accumulate in the cap area, possibly resulting in an electrical short, leading to a fire. When the recall begins June 15, Kia dealers will inspect the hydraulic clutch actuator caps for leaked oil and replace the assembly or the cap with additional sealant, at no charge to the consumer. The Hyundai vehicles have the same problem. That recall is expected to begin June 20. Owners of these vehicles might be well advised to visit NHTSA’s website and enter their 17-digit vehicle identification numbers to find out if their vehicles are included in the recall.
Defective Vehicles and Fire Risk
According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), American fire departments responded to an estimated average of 152,300 automobile fires per year between 2006 and 2010. These fires caused an average of 209 civilian deaths, 764 civilian injuries, and $536 million in direct property damage. Automobile fires were involved in 10 percent of reported U.S. fires and in 6 percent of U.S. fire deaths.
On average, 17 automobile fires were reported per hour and four people were killed each week due to these fires. Mechanical or electrical failures or malfunctions were factors in about two-thirds of the automobile fires. Only 2 percent of car fires began in fuel tanks or fuel lines, but these incidents caused 15 percent of the automobile fire deaths.
Auto Product Liability Issues
If you have been injured in a car fire caused by a dangerous or defective auto, you may be eligible to receive compensation for your losses including medical expenses, lost income, hospitalization, rehabilitation, permanent injuries, scarring and disfigurement, and pain and suffering. An experienced auto defect lawyer will be able to advise injured victims and families that have lost loved ones regarding their legal rights and options.