Hyundai Motor Co. and Kia Motors Corp. have announced plans to recall 1.3 million vehicles in the United States and South Korea for engine defects that could result in stalling. While no automaker wants to face the possibility of a recall, Hyundai Motor Group is already facing a sales slump in both North America and Asia.
Having to waste millions on a recall that further brings the company’s ability to regulate quality into question is the last thing it needs. Last month, Hyundai recalled roughly one million cars seat for a faulty fastener that occasionally caused seat belts to detach in a crash.
For the Western market, the recall affects Kia’s Optima, Sorento and Sportage — while Hyundai will be recalling the Sonata sedan and Santa Fe crossover. The companies are only waiting for regulatory approval for the proposed fix. The 171,348 vehicles being recalled in South Korea seem to be suffering from a similar manufacturing problem as the American vehicles, which both result in engine stalling.
A Hyundai spokeswoman who spoke with Reuters said the latest recall is unrelated to the global recall of nearly 500,000 Sonatas in 2015, but South Korean government officials disagree.
“[This] recall is related to a manufacturing process problem, not the structural problem of Theta 2GDi engines and we have completed improvements through appropriate measures,” reads Hyundai’s official statement.
The South Korean ministry claims that metal debris surrounding the crankshaft of pre-August 2013 Theta 2 powerplants could cause damage, leading to lugging or stalling. That’s interesting, as Hyundai’s 2015 North American recall was also due to engine debris in the direct-injection motors.
In North America, the affected models include the 2013 and 2014 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport and Sonata, the 2011 through 2014 Kia Optima, 2011 to 2013 Kia Sportage SUVs, and the 2012 to 2014 Kia Sorento.
The recall of Korean cars begins on May 22nd, while American vehicles are eligible for repairs starting May 19th.