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U.S. Opens Probe into Possible Delays in Hyundai, Kia Recalls

It took Hyundai Motor Co. and its Kia Motors affiliate three U.S. recalls over two years to fix the same engine problem in 1.6 million vehicles. Now regulators are investigating why the companies didn’t recall all effected cars at the same time.
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It took Hyundai Motor Co. and its Kia Motors affiliate three U.S. recalls over two years to fix the same engine problem in 1.6 million vehicles. Now regulators are investigating why the companies didn’t recall all effected cars at the same time.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration probe was prompted in part by former Hyundai engineer Kim Gwang-ho, who told the agency last August that Hyundai and Kia should have recalled more of the so-called “Theta II” 2.0- and 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engines.

The U.S. recalls began in September 2015 when Hyundai called back 470,000 of its 2011-2012 model Sonata midsize sedans. The company blamed debris left inside the engine during the manufacturing process that could clog oil passages and cause premature wear or an engine seizure.

But last April a similar problem prompted Hyundai to recall Santa Fe Sport crossover vehicles and a broader array of Sonata cars. Kia issued a simultaneous campaign covering Theta II engines in 618,200 of it Optima sedans and Sportage crossovers. The two new recalls covered a combined 1.1 million more vehicles in the U.S. and 171,300 vehicles in South Korea.

At the time, Hyundai told Reuters the new recall involved a different source for the defect, although the company described both problems as debris in the engine.

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