Kia, Hyundai Motor recall 170,000 cars

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Kia, Hyundai Motor recall 170,000 cars

Hyundai Motor and sister company Kia Motors said Thursday they will voluntarily recall some 170,000 units of five models including the flagship Grandeur and Sontata over defects in their Theta 2 engine.

This is the engine that was the subject of whistleblowing last year by a Hyundai Motor employee who identified possible defects that the company strongly objected to. The employee was eventually fired.

The five models facing recall in Korea include the Grandeur (HG) and Sonata (YF) and Kia Motors’ K7 (VG), K5 (TF) and Sportage (SL), all of which were manufactured between 2009 and 2013.

The two auto giants also said Friday they are considering a recall of over 1.3 million units in North America over defects in the same type of engine - the Theta 2 - although the defect is different.

Korea’s recall involves metal debris that collects in a crank shaft that leads the engine to overheat, resulting in some engine parts melting down and adhering to each other. Hyundai Motor said Friday the engine defect was traced to the manufacturing of the engines using outdated machinery.

The automaker will inspect the vehicles in question and replace the entire engines of cars with the defect.

The recall process will start in Korea on May 22.

Its North American recall includes the Sonata (YFa), Santa Fe (AN), K5 (QF), Sorento (XMa) and Sportage (SL). Hyundai Motor has submitted a recall notice to U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. This time, the surface of the crank shaft pin has been manufactured unevenly, leading to unnecessary noise and trembling of the engine.

“The reason for two recalls in Korea and North America are different although it has to do with the same engine,” a Hyundai Motor official said.

Hyundai Motor has been denying defects in its Theta 2 engine, which are used in top Hyundai and Kia models, since one of its employees in the quality-control department reported the problem to the media and transport authority last October, reportedly after failing to get the problems fixed by the companies.

The employee worked 25 years at Hyundai Motor. He said that while the automaker recalled Sonata models manufactured between 2011 and 2012 in the U.S. for engine defects, it did not do the same for cars in Korea with the same engines.

The employee was fired a month later for going against the company’s internal security regulations.

At the time, the automaker said the recall in the U.S. derived from the manufacturing process at its Alabama assembly line so it had nothing to do with vehicles sold in Korea.

The 2015 U.S. recall involved some half million vehicles.


BY JIN EUN-SOO [jin.eunsoo@joongang.co.kr]



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