DETROIT – A non-profit automotive safety group asks Hyundai and Kia to recall 2.9 million cars and SUVs in the United States because of consumer complaints that can ignite.
The Center for Motor Safety said on Friday that there were over 220 complaints against the US government since 2010 on fires and another 200 complaints related to molten cables and smoke and burning odor.
The grievances concern the 2011-2014 Kia Sorento and Optima and Hyundai Sonata and Santa Fe. The Kia Soul from 2010 to 2015 is also included.
The fires were designed by the National Road Traffic Safety Administration as part of a 2017 probe in failures of Hyundai and Kia engines.
"The volume of fires here makes it seem like Hyundai and Kia are content to sit down and allow consumers and insurers to bear the weight of poorly engineered, built and repaired vehicles," said Jason Levine, executive director of the center. Reports of the fire came from all over the country, including a death in Ohio in April 2017, he said.
Hyundai claims to monitor security issues and acts quickly to address defective vehicles. "We have a robust system for monitoring and investigating fires in reported vehicles that include investigations and reports with the NHTSA as required," reads a company note.
Kia said he is using company and third-party fire investigators to determine what caused the fires to deal with them.
"A fire in a vehicle can be the result of any number of complex factors, such as manufacturing problems, inadequate maintenance, installation of aftermarket parts, improper repairs, arson or other non-vehicle sources, and an investigator must be carefully evaluated qualified and trained, "the company said in a statement.
In June, the Automotive Safety Center petitioned for NHTSA to investigate fires separately from engine failures. The agency said Friday that it is evaluating the petition and requested information from the car manufacturers.
In May 2017, the government began to investigate whether Hyundai and Kia had moved fast enough to attract over 1.6 million vehicles due to engine stalls.
NHTSA is examining three recalls from related Korean brands, and is also examining whether car manufacturers have followed the safety reporting requirements.
Hyundai recalled about 470,000 vehicles in September 2015 because production debris could limit the flow of oil to the bearings of the connecting rods. This can cause wear and bearing failure of the four-cylinder engines. Repair is an expensive replacement of the engine block.
In March of last year, car manufacturers issued two more calls for 1.2 million additional vehicles with the same engine problem.
If the NHTSA finds out that the companies have moved too slowly to recall the vehicles, then it can issue fines or order additional calls. The agency said the fires seem to be connected to engine failures.
Melissa Markoutsis, 39, of Kenosha, Wisconsin, said the engine of her Kia Soul 2012 exploded and failed in an Interstate 94 construction area south of Milwaukee on May 14, spitting black smoke as she drove between the semi-finals and the Jersey barriers.
"I panicked, I could not see anything," he recalled.
Markoutsis said he safely ascended to an exit ramp and brought the Soul, a small SUV, towed to a Kia dealership, where he was told it would cost $ 6,500 to replace his engine. The soul is not included in the previous calls.
Markouts refused to pay and complained to the company Kia, who provided a car loan while investigating his complaint. He has no news of Kia since October 4, he said.
She also complained to the NHTSA demanding that the souls be recalled and that she found others through social media whose engines have failed. "Someone is going to die," he said.
Levine said the center found a dozen fires reports in vehicles that made recall repairs, indicating that fires might not be related to the engine problem.
NHTSA, in documents published last year, said that Hyundai narrow-gauge vehicles in 2015 recall a group manufactured before April 12, 2012. The company said it had solved the production problem after that date.
Kia said at the time of the 2015 recall that its 2.4-liter and 2-liter "Theta II" engines, which had the same design as those of the Hyundai, had not been recalled because they did not have the same problem.
Subsequently, both companies issued additional calls 18 months later for the same problem, including the models that the car manufacturers had initially declared not interested.
Last year's recalls cover some of the most popular models in the United States and Canada, including the 2013 and 2014 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport SUVs and the Sonata mid-size cars. Kia Optima mid-size cars from 2011 to 2014, Kia Sportage SUVs from 2011 to 2013 and Kia Sorento SUVs from 2012 to 2014 are also covered.
Kia is a small subsidiary of Hyundai. Together they are the fifth automaker in the world.
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