Hyundai and Kia Engine Fires

In recent years Hyundai and Kai Theta II engine fires have occurred in more than 400 vehicles, with and without collisions.

The NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) began an investigation in May of 2017 into Hyundai and Kia vehicles equipped with Theta II engines.  This investigation came after the September 2015 recall by Hyundai  for 470,000 model year 2011-2012 Sonatas equipped with 2 and 2.4 liter Theta II engines.  In 2017 Hyundai expanded the recall.  This included 572,000 vehicles with Theta II engines. The 2011-2014 Hyundai Sonata and Santa Fe Sport vehicles were included in this list, all having problems  with metal debris.

In the NHTSA investigation, the NHTSA said it was concerned that Hyundai and Kia possibly did  not correct the engine problems fast enough after knowing the problems existed.  Hyundai stated that due to manufacturing problems the metallic debris around the engine crankshaft entered the engine oil.  The result was damage to the connecting rod bearings.

Kia informed the NHTSA about a recall in which the Theta engine bearings wore out too early and caused the engines to seize.   More than 618,000 model year 2011-2014 Kia Optima, 2012-2014 Sorento and the 2011-2013 Sportage models were included in this.

But the recall wasn’t ordered when Hyundai first recalled its cars.  Kia stated the reason for this was because the Theta II engines in the Kia were not built on the same production line as Hyundai and had different problems than Hyundai.

The Center for Auto Safety (CAS) was concerned with fires in the Hyundai and Kia vehicles that were involved in the past recalls.  They then petitioned NHTSA to investigate  this matter.

CAS stated that there were engine fires when no crashes were involved.

Non-collision fires reported in model year 2011-2014 vehicles outfitted with Theta II engines included:

2011-2014 Hyundai Sonata: 47 fires

2011-201 Kia Optima:  33 fires

2011-2014 Kia Sorrento:  30 fires

2011-2014 Hyundai Santa Fe:  10 fires


Interestingly enough, the CAS found that three of those models were made at the same Georgia assembly plant.  The CAS stated the high number of fires in Hyundai and Kia cars were not

normal.  However, they do admit non-collision fires can happen in any newer car because electrical current is always moving through various systems.

Please remember : if you have a vehicle AND it is under the manufacturer’s warranty, you are entitled to fair treatment and getting the problem fixed in a timely manner. In many cases, the manufacturer will repurchase your vehicle, and may even have to pay civil penalties and or reimbursement of your expenses. It helps to understand your rights as a consumer, and the California Lemon Law expert is here to help you or someone you may know who is in this situation. If your vehicle is not functioning properly and is under warranty, you have rights under the law that you need to thoroughly understand. Call us today for a free, no charge consultation at 916-672-8443.