Irvine, Calif. – Oct. 13, 2017 – Kia Motors America has recalled more than five-dozen vehicles possibly equipped with defective crankshafts, according to documentation filed with the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. The campaign affects 2017 Kia Sorento sport utility vehicles with production dates ranging from March 27, 2017 to March 30, 2017. KMA suspects roughly one-quarter of the models named in the recall actually contain the defective components.
Affected vehicles may include improperly heat treated crankshafts prone to failure. As a result, models with these fixtures in place can stall or catch fair with little to no warning. This poses a serious risk to occupants – especially those traveling at high speeds. However, KMA has yet to receive reports linking the defective crankshafts to any accidents.
Owners driving Sorento SUVs that include the problematic components have reported hearing cyclical knocking and seeing their check-engine lights illuminated. KMA advises owners to discontinue vehicle operation as soon as they experience symptoms of the defect, as stalling or engine fires tend to develop quickly following crankshaft failure.
Timeline of Events
On July 5, 2017, a customer contacted the KMA consumer affairs department and reported that his engine had stalled and caught fire, according to an internal incident chronology document submitted to the NHTSA. The customer also claimed to have received first-degree burns while recovering property from the burning vehicle. This individual also filed a vehicle-owner questionnaire with the NHTSA. From July 6 to July 21, the South Korean car manufacturer investigated the incident, collecting all available information in preparation for escalated internal proceedings. On July 21, KMA relayed the customer report to personnel at Kia’s facility in West Point, Georgia. Four days later, KMA learned of a second customer incident involving an engine fire and informed the team at KMGA.
Between Aug. 7 and Sept. 8, KMA engineers investigated both fires and searched for a root cause. Eventually, these mechanical specialists discovered that both vehicles contained crankshafts that were not properly heat treated at the Hyundai Motor Company Asan Plant in South Korea.
On Sept. 14, Kia Consumer Affairs reviewed all information related to the matter and chose to conduct a voluntary safety recall.
KMA will direct dealers to inspect the crankshafts and, if necessary, replace the sub-engine assemblies in affected vehicles free of charge, according to an NHTSA recall acknowledgement document. The car manufacturer plans to notify dealers Oct. 30. Owners should expect to receive notification via first-class mail Nov. 6. Those in need of more immediate assistance can contact KMA customers service at (800) 333-4542. They should use the internal recall identification code SC153 when calling. Owners can also reach out to the NHTSA directly through its Vehicle Safety Hotline at (888) 327-4236.