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Hyundai and Kia recall more vehicles over engine fires/failures


Hyundai and Kia are recalling more than half a million vehicles because of defects that can cause fires.  The new recalls are part of a more than three year string of recalls for engine failures and fires. 

The recall is for 379,000 2012-2016 model year Kia Soul SUVs with 1.6 liter engines, over a catalytic converter defect that can cause fires, and 152,000 2011-2013 model year Tuscon SUVs and 2011-2012 Sportage SUVs, over an engine oil pan leak that can also cause fires.

The automakers are also conducting a "product improvement campaign," (as opposed to a recall) that covers 3.7 million vehicles.  The fix will install software that alerts drivers of a possible engine failure, and send the cars into a reduced-speed "limp" mode if problems are detected.

Federal safety investigators are looking at whether the companies delayed taking action.

Jason Levine, Executive Director of the non-profit Center for Auto Safety, says they did.

He says he contacted the automakers last year, pointing out they had more than 300 complaints about fires.

"When you start to see more (engine fires) than everyone else has, something is going on," says Levine.  "And it was at that moment in time, that both companies said, 'there's nothing to see here, unfortunately cars catch on fire all the time."

Levine says the recalls, plus the NHTSA investigation are a good start,  but thinks Congress should hold hearings and try to get the CEOs of the company to testify - which they refused to do last year when called.

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Public. She began her career at Michigan Public as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.
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