Hyundai and Kia Face Engine Defect Class Action

A class action suit filed on December 14, 2018, in the United States District Court for the Central District of California alleged that Kia Motors Corp. (“Kia”) and Hyundai Motor Co. (“Hyundai”) knew and failed to warn customers about an engine defect that caused their vehicles to spontaneously combust.

According to the complaint, Hyundai and Kia vehicles with defective gasoline direct injection engines may burst into flames even without a collision, creating an “increased risk of accident, injury, or death” for drivers. Over 350 drivers have reported fires in their affected vehicles to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”).

Although both Hyundai and Kia released technical service bulletins and conducted limited recalls, neither automobile manufacturer manned a comprehensive recall or created an adequate solution to the defect.

The class alleges that “the catastrophic engine failure and fire risk is the direct result of a defect concealed by, and still unremedied by Hyundai and Kia.” In addition to the serious safety risk, the plaintiffs allege that the defect often results in the loss of the entire car.

Vehicles allegedly at risk include the 2013-2019 Hyundai Santa Fe and Santa Fe Sport, 2011-2019 Hyundai Sonata, 2011-2019 Kia Optima, 2012-2019 Kia Soul, 2012-2019 Kia Sorento, and 2011-2019 Kia Sportage.

The proposed class includes all U.S. consumers who bought or leased an affected vehicle, except for those with personal injury claims. There are eight named plaintiffs from across the United States, many of whom reported that their affected cars caught fire in non-collision incidents.

Plaintiffs assert that none of the actions already taken by Hyundai or Kia were sufficient. Hyundai recalled approximately 1 million vehicles in 2015 and again in 2017, and also issued technical service bulletins regarding defect repairs. Kia recalled 600,000 vehicles in March 2017 and distributed “Product Improvement Campaign” letters to owners in October 2018.

The complaint points to the fact that an October 2018 Center for Auto Safety recall of approximately 3 million 2011-2014 Hyundai and Kia vehicles was never realized, and that the automobile manufacturers’ CEOs refused to testify at a US Senate hearing in November 2018, arguing that non-collision fires should be investigated in all vehicles, not just those made by Hyundai and Kia.

The class is seeking reimbursement for all expenses relating to repairing or replacing the vehicles, including time off from work. The suit is also requesting that Hyundai and Kia be mandated to recall, repair, or replace all affected vehicles.

The legal team at Shepherd, Finkelman, Miller & Shah, LLP (“SFMS”) has significant experience litigating class action and product liability matters.  If you have any questions regarding this subject or this posting, please contact Nick Lussier or Chiharu Sekino. We can also be reached toll-free at (866) 540-5505.

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