Hyundai recalls 95,500 Tucson, Sonata vehicles for fire risk

WASHINGTON — Hyundai Motor America is recalling more than 95,500 U.S. vehicles for an engine defect that can increase the risk of a fire.

The recall covers certain 2017 Tucson compact crossovers and 2017 Sonata Hybrid midsize sedans equipped with 2.0-liter Nu GDI engines produced by the automaker’s engine plant in Ulsan, South Korea, according to a document submitted to NHTSA.

The connecting rod bearings in those engines may wear prematurely, which over time can result in engine damage and eventually stall the vehicle during operation.

As of Sept. 17, Hyundai said it was aware of 45 fires related to the issue.

The automaker did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Automotive News.

Dealers and vehicle owners will receive recall notifications starting Nov. 12.

Dealerships will inspect the engines to determine whether there is any bearing damage. If damage is found, the engine will be replaced.

In addition, Hyundai said all affected vehicles will receive an enhanced engine control software update containing its new Knock Sensor Detection System, which monitors engine vibrations for unusual patterns and helps detect issues that could lead to an engine failure.

Hyundai’s latest recall stems from a 2019 NHTSA investigation into nearly 1.3 million Sonata and Santa Fe vehicles from the 2011-14 model years over allegations of noncrash vehicle fires. NHTSA sought data regarding noncollision fire incidents of all Hyundai vehicles from all model years equipped with Theta II, Lambda II, Gamma and Nu engines.

For years, Hyundai and affiliate Kia Corp. have been plagued by engine defects, leading to investigations by NHTSA and subsequent recalls.

Last November, Hyundai and Kia’s U.S. units agreed to pay a record $210 million civil penalty after NHTSA said they failed to recall 1.6 million vehicles for engine issues in a timely fashion.

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