DETROIT – Kia says she will ignore the US government's partial shutdown and recall more than 68,000 vehicles to solve a fuel pipeline problem that could lead to engine fires. The problem stems from previous booster repairs due to engine failures.
The Korean manufacturer also announced that it would conduct a "product improvement campaign" to install sensors in 1.7 million US vehicles that would warn drivers of possible engine failures and cause them to go into "lame" mode at reduced speed if problems were detected.
Kia confirmed the reminder and improvement campaign contained in the statements released Wednesday after the Associated Press had discovered in the Canadian government records that the recall was taking place in that country. Hyundai, a larger Kia subsidiary that uses the same engines and has also had failure problems, has announced similar measures.
Hyundai and Kia have both been accused of fire and engine failure throughout the country. They are currently under investigation by the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which oversees recalls. But the agency is mainly closed because of the closure.
NHTSA employees responsible for security investigations and reminder notifications are not at work. Under normal circumstances, the agency would have reviewed Kia's reminder to make sure it was adequate and post the details on its website. This would also help to monitor customer notices and ensure that customers can check if their vehicles are included.
Kia spokesman James Bell said the company was conducting the recall and improvement campaign regardless of government delays.
"To make our customers feel comfortable, it's far more important to make sure we're following other government processes right now," he said. Kia sent letters to dealers around January 10 to inform them of the recall, he said.
However, a US auto safety advocate dismissed Kia's measures as inadequate and said the product improvement campaign should instead be a NHTSA-supervised recall.
An NHTSA spokeswoman said she could make no comment because of the plant's closure.
Hyundai and Kia started recalling 1.7 million vehicles in 2015, including about 618,000 Kias, as manufacturing debris can limit the flow of oil to the big-end bearings. This can result in the wear and failure of the bearings of four-cylinder engines of 2 liters and 2.4 liters, as well as fires. Repair is an expensive replacement of the engine block.
Today, Kia acknowledges that engine replacements "may not have been properly performed by Kia dealers," according to a company statement released Wednesday but dated January 11. The high pressure fuel hose may have been damaged, misaligned or improperly tightened during engine replacement, the statement said. This may allow the fuel to leak and hit hot engine parts, causing fires.
Kia only corrects 68,000 of its 618,000 vehicles. Bell said he would check to see why others are not being recalled.
The fuel injector hose recall relates to certain 2011-2011 Optima cars, 2012 to 2014 Sorrento SUVs and 2011 to 2013 Sportage SUVs, all equipped with 2 and 2.4 liter four-cylinder engines. .
The company said the owners of the recalled vehicles would be notified by letter.
Jason Levine, executive director of Center For Auto Safety, said Kia was limiting the last recall to a relatively small number of vehicles without adequate explanation, raising more questions than answers. He added that some consumers have complained of fires in vehicles not included in the engine repair recalls.
He also raised concerns about the impact of the government shutdown on NHTSA, which should be open to handle critical security recalls.
"This is the exact scenario where people in charge of security and law enforcement should do their job," he said.
The last reminder posted on the NHTSA website was dated December 19, three days before the start of the closure. The agency said it "can recall fired employees if NHTSA is informed of information regarding suspended duties that imply imminent threats to the safety of human life or to the protection of the company." property".