NHTSA is Investigating Hyundai and Kia Theta II Engines

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has opened an investigation focused on Hyundai and Kia vehicles equipped with Theta II engines. Actually, these vehicles were subject to recalls.

In other words, Hyundai and Kia issued the expansive recall, which applies to about 1.7 million vehicles. The problem was that Theta engines are defective and may produce much noise. Thus, the goal of the Hyundai and Kia investigation is to find out if the recall expanded slowly.

It was in September 2015, when Hyundai initiated a recall which applies to nearly 470 000 2011-2012 Sonata vehicles. These vehicles come with 2-liter and 2.4-liter Theta II engines. During this period of time, the automaker informed the NHTSA that manufacturing issues left metallic debris around the crankshaft of the vehicle’s engine. This resulted in oil flow issues. As a consequence, metal pieces interact with the flow of the oil via the connecting rod bearings. This may lead to the damage of the connecting rods.

More details

Hyundai mentioned the reason of this issue was connected with a mechanical ‘’deburring’’ process. In fact, it was used for removing the machining debris from the vehicle’s crankshaft.

It’s worth mentioning the automaker expanded this recall later. It was by April 2017, when Hyundai added 572000 vehicles equipped with Theta II engines. The recall applied to Hyundai Sonata and Santa Fe Sport vehicles of the model year 2013-2014. Hyundai and Kia again put the blame on the debris problem.

Thus, during almost at the same period of time, Kia provided NHTSA with information concerning a recall. It involved over 618 000 2011-2014 Kia Optima, 2012-2014 Sorento, as well as 2011-2013 Sportage vehicles. The problem was that Theta engine bearings may wear out early. This may result in engine seizing.

Kia didn’t issue a recall in 2015 when the automaker Hyundai recalled its vehicles for the first time. The carmaker explained that Theta II engines of its vehicles were constructed on a different production line. That’s why the nature of the problem was different.

Besides a great number of customer complaints concerning Theta II engines, a Korean whistleblower who used to work for Hyundai, shared all he knew with NHTSA.

Affected vehicle owners filed a lawsuit against the automaker in 2015. The suit claimed the carmaker failed to pay thousands of dollars for either repairing or replacing engines. Kia faced a class action lawsuit in 2016 as well. The plaintiffs were owners of vehicles that have faulty Theta engines.

According to the information provided by NHTSA, it took action to carry out the investigation concerning the timeliness, as well as the scope of Hyundai Theta engine recalls. Furthermore, it also aims to investigate the automaker’s compliance with reporting requirements.