DETROIT (AP) — U.S. auto safety regulators have stepped up a series of investigations into engine fires that have plagued Hyundai and Kia vehicles for more than six years.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says a new engineering analysis investigation covers more than 3 million vehicles from the 2011 through 2016 model years. The agency has received 161 complaints of engine fires, some of which occurred in vehicles that had already been recalled.
Engine failures and fires have dogged the Korean automakers' vehicles since September 2015 when the company issued an engine failure recall. Since then it has issued at least eight more recalls for a host of engine problems, according to NHTSA documents posted on its website Monday.
The agency says it's opening the engineering analysis to evaluate whether previous recalls covered enough vehicles. It also will monitor the effectiveness of previous recalls as well as the long-term viability of related programs and non-safety field actions being conducted by Hyundai and Kia.
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The engineering analysis could lead to further recalls.
Hyundai said Monday that it is cooperating fully with U.S. regulators.
"Hyundai has taken numerous proactive actions to address engine issues, including conducting several recalls, launching a new engine monitoring technology, providing extended warranties and enhancing our customer service response," the company said in a prepared statement. "Hyundai fosters a culture of transparency and accountability as the safety of our customers is the top priority in everything we do."
Kia did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday.
The vehicle fires involve the related Korean automakers' Theta II GDI, Theta II MPI, Theta II MPI hybrid, Nu GDI and Gamma GDI engines. Models covered include Hyundai's Sonata, Santa Fe and Elantra as well as Kia's Sorento, Rio, Optima and Soul. Model years covered are 2011 through 2016.
The agency says three people have reported eye and burn injuries that did not require medical treatment.
In November of 2020, NHTSA announced that Kia and Hyundai must pay $137 million in fines and for safety improvements because they moved too slowly to recall more than 1 million vehicles with engines that can fail. The fines resolve a previous probe into the companies' behavior involving recalls of multiple models dating to the 2011 model year.
Kia was to pay $27 million and invest $16 million in safety performance measures. Another $27 million payment will be deferred as long as Kia meets safety conditions, NHTSA said.
Kia denied the U.S. allegations but said it wanted to avoid a protracted legal fight.
Data collected by the nonprofit Center for Auto Safety show 31 U.S. fire and engine-related recalls from Hyundai and Kia since 2015. The recalls involve more than 20 models from the 2006 through 2021 model years totaling over 8.4 million vehicles.
Many of the recalls involved manufacturing defects that stopped oil from flowing through the engine block. Many involved expensive engine replacements.
Hyundai and Kia also did a U.S. "product improvement campaign" covering 3.7 million vehicles to install software that will alert drivers of possible engine failures.
5 vehicles that will be discontinued in 2022
Driving Into the sunset
Car shoppers are buying crossovers and SUVs in large numbers. Automakers are constantly introducing new models and nameplates to their lineups to meet consumer preferences and to keep their lineup fresh. With that comes the need to cycle older models out.
These discontinuations aren’t promoted, and shoppers often don’t realize they’re gone until it’s too late. With this in mind, Edmunds’ experts highlighted five outgoing vehicles that will be gone after the 2021 model year.
While there are reasons behind each vehicle’s discontinuation, it’s possible you might want one before they’re sold out. They may not be easy to find given the current new vehicle shortage, so you may want to act sooner rather than later. The vehicles listed are sorted by manufacturer’s suggested retail price from low to high and include the destination charge.
2021 Volkswagen Golf
Starting MSRP: $24,190
Hatchbacks have fallen out of favor over the years, and the latest casualty for the class is one of the most well known: the Volkswagen Golf. VW will still offer the Golf GTI and the Golf R, which return as fully redesigned 2022 models.
Find one of these remaining Golfs, and you’ll get a small hatchback that’s practical and comfortable. But there are signs that VW just wasn’t interested in keeping this final model competitive. Compared to other small hatchbacks, this Golf suffers from mediocre performance and a lack of technology features and advanced driver aids.
2021 Mazda 6
Starting MSRP: $25,470
A number of sedans have been put to rest recently, but the Mazda 6’s passing is especially notable. The current generation debuted in 2014, though it hardly shows its age considering its sleek styling, sharp handling and an optional turbocharged motor with power to spare.
That wasn’t enough, however. Shoppers are increasingly turning to crossover SUVs instead of smaller cars and sedans, and there wasn’t enough interest in the 6 to warrant Mazda’s continued investment. It’s unfortunate since the 6 is one of Edmunds’ highest-rated sedans. It’s worth seeking one out.
2021 Volvo V60
Starting MSRP: $42,045
Few automakers bother with station wagons lately. Volvo has been their cheerleader longer than most, but it too is throwing in the towel on its small V60 and larger V90 wagons. Both models offer near-SUV practicality, attractive styling and appealing value.
Just 385 V60s were sold in the first half of 2021 — but there’s a lot to like about this small wagon if you’re able to find one. And Volvo will continue to sell the V60 Cross Country, which is a V60 with a slightly higher ride height and a few SUV-like styling elements.
2021 Toyota Land Cruiser
Starting MSRP: $87,030
Imagine a dinosaur that somehow survived to see the present day — that’s the Toyota Land Cruiser. This big traditional SUV is outdated by the versatile crossovers that now dominate the automotive landscape. But the Land Cruiser enjoys a fan base of old-school loyalists despite its lack of smartphone connectivity and a base price of nearly $90,000.
This generation debuted in 2008, and it has survived this long by appealing to buyers who value uncompromising size and off-road heritage. Alas, its starting price and thirsty fuel consumption limited its appeal against rivals such as the Ford Expedition and Chevrolet Suburban. The Land Cruiser exits with no Toyota replacement in the works.
2021 Acura NSX
MSRP of 2021 Acura NSX: $159,495
The all-wheel-drive hybrid Acura NSX launched for 2017 as one of the most ambitious vehicle reboots to hit the market in recent memory. Highlights include accessible performance and good fuel efficiency for an exotic sports car. But its high price, tiny trunk and dated infotainment system are also notable turnoffs.
Acura will produce 300 upgraded NSX Type S models for the U.S. market in 2022 as a proper send-off.
With that, this generation of the NSX will come to an end with no successor in sight. In a field of exceptional options, the NSX simply struggled to stand out.