On Dec. 4, auto maker Hyundai announced the recall of nearly 130,000 vehicles that may have an engine defect that could cause a fire. Unlike prior Hyundai engine-fire related recalls, this one could require a total engine replacement. The work will be performed by dealers at no charge.
The problem is with an internal part in the engine, the connecting rod bearing, which can apparently wear prematurely, according to Consumer Reports. If it does, it could puncture the engine block. A punctured engine block would cause an abrupt loss of power, even while the vehicle is in motion. It could also cause an oil leak which could lead to a fire.
Every owner of an affected vehicle should return it to the dealership immediately for an assessment and possible engine replacement. However, you should be especially worried if you notice:
- An abnormal knocking noise from the engine
- The oil pressure warning light is on
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says these could be signs of a worn connecting rod bearing.
The abnormal wear on the connecting rod bearing could be caused by a software problem. Therefore, Hyundai will also update the engine software on the affected vehicles.
This recall may be only the beginning
According to the Center for Auto Safety (CAS), an independent watchdog group, Hyundai may not have recalled enough vehicles. This is because Hyundai’s recall is focused only on vehicles with higher-than-average rates of engine block holes and fires. However, other Hyundai vehicles have the same engine as those being recalled.
This recall is in addition to 33 other Hyundai and Kia recalls for fire danger. (Kia and Hyundai are related companies.) Those recalls involved over 5 million vehicles and at least 20 models from the model years 2006 through 2021. However, these prior recalls involved an engine design called Theta II. The Theta II engine is only equipped in some vehicles included in this latest recall.
Vehicles included in this recall
- 2011-2013 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid sedans with 2.4-liter Theta II engines, manufactured between June 2, 2010 and Dec. 17, 2013
- 2012 Hyundai Santa Fe SUVs with 2.4-liter Theta II engines, manufactured between Jan. 10, 2012 and July 3, 2012
- 2015 and 2016 Hyundai Veloster hatchbacks with 1.6-liter Gamma engines, manufactured between May 26, 2014 and July 13, 2016
- 2016 Hyundai Sonata hybrid sedans with 2.0-liter Nu engines, manufactured between Feb. 25, 2015 and April 24, 2016
If you are unsure whether your car is included, you can look it up online. You will need your 17-digit vehicle identification number, which can be found on your title or on the vehicle itself. For example, it is printed inside the driver’s side door.