Hyundai, Kia are Sued After Recalling Vehicles Because of Fire Risk

By Jonathan Stempel | February 25, 2022

Hyundai Motor Co and Kia Corp were sued on Friday by drivers who claimed a defect in their vehicles’ anti-lock brake systems could trigger fires.

The proposed class action filed in the federal court in Santa Ana, California, followed the South Korean automakers’ Feb. 8 recall of nearly 485,000 Hyundai Santa Fe, Hyundai Tucson, Kia and Kia Sportage vehicles from model years 2014 through 2019.

Hyundai and Kia said malfunctioning hydraulic electronic control units could cause electrical shorts, increasing the risk of fire in engine compartments while vehicles were being driven or even parked.

They recommended that vehicles be parked outside and away from others, and said dealers would install new fuses. The recall followed 11 reports of fire incidents.

In their complaint, vehicle owners and renters called the fix “only a Band-Aid” that did not adequately address the defect, or reimburse them for out-of-pocket expenses and the loss of their vehicles’ use and value.

The lawsuit also covers many other Hyundai and Kia vehicles from the 2006 through 2021 model years with similar alleged defects. It seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.

Hyundai had no immediate comment. Kia did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Fire and engine problems have long dogged both automakers. The nonprofit Center for Auto Safety said that since 2015, nearly 7.9 million Hyundai and Kia vehicles from the 2006 to 2022 model years were recalled for such issues.

In November, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration awarded more than $24 million to a whistleblowing former Hyundai engineer who in 2016 said the automaker was not addressing an engine flaw that could cause crashes.

A year earlier, Hyundai and Kia agreed to pay $210 million in civil fines after NHTSA found they were too slow to recall more than 1.6 million vehicles with engine defects. Read full story

The case is Evans et al v Hyundai Motor Co et al, U.S. District Court, Central District of California, No. 22-00300.

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