Nineteen plaintiffs have put their names on a lawsuit filed over spontaneous engine fires and sudden engine stalls linked to certain Hyundai and Kia models, arguing the automakers “should have acted to recall these vehicles far earlier.”
The proposed class action alleges that more than six million Hyundai and Kia vehicles manufactured since 2015 are equipped with defective gasoline direct-injection (GDI) engines. The apparent defect can cause debris to disperse from the engine, which, according to the suit, can cause bearings to become prematurely worn, engine seizure or the dislodgment of connecting rods that can puncture the engine block. It’s these events, the case says, that can lead to fire:
“Premature wear may result in a connecting rod breaking and puncturing a hole in the engine block, thus allowing oil to escape and encounter hot engine surfaces. This can ultimately cause a sudden engine fire rendering Class Vehicles inoperable. In addition to extensive and costly damage to vehicle engines, their component parts, and in some cases, total loss of a Class Vehicle, the Engine Defect creates a serious driving hazard and increased likelihood of injury or death for drivers and passengers.”
To date, Hyundai and Kia have documented upward of 3,125 fire-related incidents not linked to any collision, according to the case, notwithstanding consumers complaints covering melted wires, engine smoke, rattling noises, and burning odors.
Despite afederal criminal investigationinto engine fire reports that covered 2011-2014 Kia Optima and Sorento, 2010-2015 Kia Soul, and 2011-2014 Hyundai Sonata and Santa Fe vehicles, a number of “at-risk” cars equipped with a 2.4 Theta II GDI engine are still on the road, the case says.
For their part, Hyundai and Kia, according to the plaintiffs, knew about and concealed from consumers the risk of engine failure and fire in the following vehicle models:
- 2011-2019 Hyundai Sonata;
- 2013-2019 Hyundai Santa Fe and Santa Fe Sport;
- 2011-2019 Kia Optima;
- 2011-2019 Kia Sportage;
- 2012-2019 Kia Sorento; and
- 2012-2019 Kia Soul.
From the complaint:
“Simply put, Hyundai and Kia should have acted to recall these vehicles far earlier. Not only do the numerous investigations, publications, consumer complaints and internet postings put Hyundai and Kia on notice of the engine defect and fire risk, Hyundai and Kia concealed from consumers the defects and related safety hazards, thus misleading and inducing consumers to purchase vehicles.”
The case looks to certify a proposed class of all consumers nationwide, and in California, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas, who bought, leased or own one of the vehicles listed above.