Since 2015 the South Korean car manufacturer Hyundai along with its associated company Kia has recalled over 6 million vehicles to fix the various design related problems especially for engine failure, causing fires. In the latest Hyundai car recall, the company announced in 2019, that it would recall 20,000 2013 Veloster cars which were sold in the United States and Canada.
The company is under pressure from both safety regulators like the United States National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and consumer groups like the Center for Auto Safety , which has James Levine as its executive director.
According to the information posted by NHTSA on its website, there is a problem with the design of the Veloster engines, due to which the fuel will ignite earlier than expected in the cylinders which are around the car pistons.
This increases the pressure in the engine to high levels, which results in damage to the engine. In some cases, the vehicle will stall, and in other cases, the engine will catch fire. Problems have reported in a large number of Veloster vehicles manufactured in 2013, and the problems declined after 2014.
The spokesman for Hyundai, Michael Stewart claimed that the problem was only related to the 1.6 L engines which are manufactured for Veloster vehicles in 2013. There are no problems with Kia vehicles since they do not use the engine. According to Hyundai, the problem is related to the engine control software for the Veloster cars which was developed in Ulsan in South Korea between April 26, 2012 and October 16, 2013.
This information was obtained by Hyundai after analyzing the claims which were made by the Veloster car owners whose vehicles had caught fire. The information was submitted to NHTSA which started its enquiry in December 2018. Hyundai claimed that the engine control software was updated in the South Korean factory in October 2013 and there have been no major problems since then.
The company claims that it is not aware of any accidents or injuries which have been caused due to the software error. Owners of Veloster cars will be notified of the recall from May 13 2019 onward. The car owners will have to take their vehicle to the Hyundai dealers who will install the upgraded software on the recalled cars. The associated company Kia had also announced a recall for the Soul SUV in February 2019, however Stewart said that the problem was not related.
Consumer advocacy groups like that of James Levine claim that there are more than 300 fire related complaints for Kia and Hyundai vehicles in the government vehicle safety database of the NHTSA. These complaints include one death in Ohio in April 2017. They claim that the number of fire complaints for Hyundai vehicles is higher than other vehicles. Together Hyundai and Kia have recalled 2.4 million vehicles since 2015 to fix engine failure and safety related issues.
The manufacturer has advised all owners to avoid attempting repairs themselves or via their mechanics using a Hyundai workshop manual, and instead to return their cars to the nearest dealership immediately for a free repair service.
They have also launched a campaign for product improvement for 3.7 million cars, to alert the driver about engine failure. Yet consumer activists like Levine are not satisfied with the recalls and claim that the reported problems for the cars are only the tip of the iceberg.