Irvine, Calif. – March 31, 2017 – Kia Motors America has recalled more than 618,000 vehicles with serious engine defects, according to documentation from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. The recall affects Optima sedans produced between August 2010 and May 2015, as wall as Sportage and Sorento sport utility vehicles produced between December 2010 and August 2013 and April 2011 and February 2014, respectively.
Models named in the recall contain engines that suffered damage during the assembly process, leaving them prone to stalling. Metal debris generated at the time of the production of the crankshaft were not removed. Additionally, fabricators left crankpins with uneven surfaces, giving them the potential to restrict oil flow to engine bearings. This raises internal temperatures and erodes the bearings. Together, these defects increase the likelihood of sudden engine failure, putting motorists at risk. No injuries or accidents have been connected to these defects, according to the NHTSA.
Timeline of Events
- In 2015, Kia officials learned that Hyundai had to issue a recall to address problems stemming from Theta engines. Engineers for Kia evaluated models with these engines and reviewed production processes to look for similar problems. No significant issues materialized. Additionally, field and warranty claims remained at normal levels, indicating that Kia vehicles did not exhibit the same defects. Engineers at Kia production facilities in Hwasung, South Korea and West Point, Georgia had implemented line in August improvements to address possible engine issues.
- Between January and April 2016, Theta engine manufacturer Translead reviewed its production processes and discovered minor oil delivery problems. Kia implemented a monitoring program.
- In early May, Kia evaluated field performance data for the Theta engine and observed a slight uptick in claims detailing stalling precipitated by knocking noises. The carmaker decided to extend its warranty program. Over the course of late May and early June, Kia advised customers to take advantage of the program and bring their vehicles in for repair.
- Throughout the rest of the summer and fall, the carmaker continued its outreach program and addressed notification processing issues.
- In December 2016, Kia engineers reviewed more field data and field claims, the latter of which have decreased in volume due to the new warranty program and customer outreach efforts.
- Kia conducted further tests and evaluations throughout December and March 2017. On March 28, the automaker initiated a voluntary safety recall.
Kia will instruct dealers to inspect engines in affected models and replace them should they show signs of damage. The carmaker intends to reimburse owners for the repairs via its warranty program, updated March 21, 2016. Dealers are expected to receive notification on May 22, while owners will be notified through first-class mail May 25.