Kia and Hyundai owners file class-action lawsuit over engine fires

A group of Kia and Hyundai owners have filed a class-action lawsuit against the automakers over an alleged defect that could, and has, caused noncollision fires. Back in October, the Center for Auto Safety demanded a recall of cars using the so-called Theta II engine. The turbocharged Theta II four-cylinder engine finds a home in the 2011-14 Kia Sorento, Kia Optima, Hyundai Sonata and Hyundai Santa Fe, as well as the 2010-15 Kia Soul.

More than 350 consumer complaints have been filed to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration as a result of the automakers’ “concealment of the defect,” according to the suit, which can be read here.

According to an Automotive News report, NHTSA is probing “the timeliness and scope of the carmakers’ recalls relating to manufacturing errors” in the powerplant. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York has opened a criminal investigation into the matter as well

The Center for Auto Safety, a nonprofit founded by “Unsafe at Any Speed” author Ralph Nader, is urgently asking for a recall of almost 3 million Kia and Hyundai cars and SUVs for a fire …

ready recalled about 1.6 million cars from 2011-2014 related to the problem.

According to Automotive News, the lawsuit “argues that a defect restricts oil flow to core engine parts, causing premature wear and failure and eventually resulting in engine seizure and fire.”

Hyundai said in a statement: “Over the past three years, we have held numerous meetings with DOT and NHTSA representatives, and proactively discussed and identified possible safety items for NHTSA’s evaluation, including the engine recalls,” Hyundai Motor said in the statement. “NHTSA has been fully briefed and kept apprised of these recalls and low rates of associated noncollision fires.”