NHTSA Defect Investigations for the 2014 Kia Optima Hybrid

The Office of Defects Investigations (ODI) is an office within the NHTSA which investigates serious safety problems in the design, construction or performance of vehicles. The NHTSA is authorized to order manufacturers to recall and repair vehicles, if the ODI finds a safety issue. NHTSA investigations for the 2014 Kia Optima Hybrid, both ongoing and closed, are listed below:

  1. INVESTIGATION: Air Bag ACU Electrical Overstress

    NHTSA Engineering Analysis #EA19001

    • Status:
      PENDING
    • Date Opened: April 19, 2019
    • Date Closed: N/A
    • Recall: No recall yet

    Component(s): Air Bags: Air Bag Control Module

    Summary: The Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) is expanding the investigation to include the equipment supplier and vehicle manufacturers (OEMs) using this unit.The investigation focuses on ACUs manufactured by TRW, now ZF-TRW (ZF), the Tier-one supplier to Hyundai and Kia and the other affected OEMs.The ACU senses a vehicle crash to determine whether air bag deployment is required, and if so, deploys the appropriate air bags and other supplemental restraints.ZF supplied subject ACUs to six OEMs: FCA, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Mitsubishi and Toyota.Internal to the ACU is an electronic component (an application specific integrated circuit, or ASIC) that monitors signals from crash sensors.A failure of the ASIC may prevent deployment of the required air bags and devices, or may otherwise affect the proper operation of the ACU.The ACU is located in the passenger compartment, and electrical wiring connects the ASIC to sensors located at the front of the vehicle.ODI-s current understanding is that a crash event may, in and of itself, produce harmful signals on the sensor wiring capable of damaging the ASIC, although the probability of this occurring appears to be low.While the ACU incorporates electrical circuitry intended to protect the ASIC from harmful signals, the level and effectiveness of the protective circuitry varies by OEM customer.During PE18-003, Hyundai and Kia filed recalls (18V-137 and 18V-363 respectively) to address a defect that could result in ACU disablement and non-deployments.According to the filings, the disablement occurs in certain types of frontal crash events.Both filings discussed a condition known as electrical overstress (EOS) that affected the subject ASIC and was likely caused by electrical signals that entered the ACU via sensor wiring.The recalled vehicles used ACUs that had the lowest levels of ASIC protection while non-recalled Hyundai and Kia products using subject ACUs had higher levels of protection.ODI has not identified any EOS failures in the non-recalled Kia and Hyundai populations.In September 2016, FCA filed recall 16V-668 for certain model year (MY) 2010 to 2014 Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep products also manufactured with the subject ACU.In that filing, FCA also discussed an EOS condition that resulted in a failure of the subject ASIC, which caused air bag non-deployment. FCA noted that the defect condition had only been observed in vehicles equipped with sensor harnessing routed across the front of the vehicle.Other FCA vehicles that also used the subject ACU, but not the cross-car harnessing, had not experienced EOS failures, despite similar time in service. The recalled FCA vehicles used a mid-level form of ASIC protection.Other FCA vehicles that did not use cross car wiring, or used higher levels of ASIC protection, have not been recalled.ODI has not identified any EOS failures in the non-recalled FCA population.Recently, ODI has identified two substantial frontal crash events (one fatal) involving Toyota products where EOS is suspected as the likely cause of the non-deployments.The crashes involved a MY 2018 and a MY 2019 Corolla equipped with the subject ACU that incorporated higher levels of ASIC protection.Additionally, both ACUs were found to be non-communicative (meaning the ACU could not be read with an Event Data Recorder) after the crash, a condition found in other cases where EOS occurred with other OEMs.No other EOS events have been identified for other Toyota products (including Corolla models that used the subject ACU since MY 2011), or for the Honda and Mitsubishi vehicles that use the subject ACU.ODI plans to evaluate the susceptibility of the subject ACU designs to electrical signals, as well as other vehicle factors that can either lead to, or reduce the likelihood of, an EOS event.Additionally, ODI will evaluate whether an unreasonable risk exists that requires further field action.

  2. INVESTIGATION: Non-crash Vehicle Fires

    NHTSA Preliminary Evaluation #PE19004

    • Status:
      PENDING
    • Date Opened: March 29, 2019
    • Date Closed: N/A
    • Recall: No recall yet

    Component(s): Electrical System
    Electrical System:Alternator/Generator/Regulator
    Electrical System:Battery
    Electrical System:Battery:Cables
    Electrical System:Ignition
    Electrical System:Ignition:Module
    Electrical System:Ignition:Switch
    Electrical System:Starter Assembly
    Electrical System:Starter Assembly:Relay
    Electrical System:Starter Assembly:Solenoid
    Electrical System:Wiring
    Electrical System:Wiring:Front Underhood
    Electrical System:Wiring:Interior/Under Dash
    Engine
    Engine And Engine Cooling
    Engine And Engine Cooling:Cooling System
    Engine And Engine Cooling:Cooling System:Fan
    Engine And Engine Cooling:Cooling System:Hose
    Engine And Engine Cooling:Cooling System:Radiator Assembly
    Engine And Engine Cooling:Engine
    Engine And Engine Cooling:Engine:Gasoline
    Engine And Engine Cooling:Engine:Gasoline:Belts And Associated Pulleys
    Engine And Engine Cooling:Engine:Gasoline:Turbo-Charger
    Engine And Engine Cooling:Engine:Other Fuel Types:Turbo-Charger
    Engine And Engine Cooling:Exhaust System
    Engine And Engine Cooling:Exhaust System:

    Summary: In a letter dated June 11, 2018, the Center for Auto Safety (CAS) petitioned the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to initiate a safety defect investigation into non-collision related fires on model year (MY) 2011-2014 Kia Optima and Sorento, and Hyundai Sonata and Santa Fe vehicles.In a letter dated July 24, 2018, CAS requested that MY 2010-2015 Kia Soul vehicles be added to the petition.CAS stated that there is a higher number of complaints to NHTSA regarding non-crash fires on these vehicles compared to other similar vehicles.The Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) had already opened a Recall Query (RQ17-003) on all Kia vehicles equipped with Theta II engines for engine failures that may cause stalling and fires.The query covers most of the petition subject Optima and Sorento vehicles but not any of the subject Soul vehicles.On August 21, 2018, ODI opened a Defect Petition (DP18-003) to evaluate whether to grant or deny the CAS petition.ODI sent Information Request letters to Kia (September and October 2018) requesting information on all engine and non-engine related fires in the petition Kia vehicles.ODI performed extensive analysis on the information obtained from Kia.During the DP18-003 analysis, Kia initiated three additional safety recalls related to engine compartment fires on certain petitioned and non-petitioned vehicles (nearly 500,000 total vehicles: Recalls 18V-907, 19V-101, and 19V-120).Based on ODI-s review of the applicable materials, including responses to Information Requests sent to multiple manufacturers, Vehicle Owner Questionnaires (VOQ), and Early Warning Data, NHTSA has decided to grant the petition.The petition is hereby granted.A Preliminary Evaluation has been opened to assess the scope, frequency, and potential safety-related consequences of alleged defects relating to non-collision vehicle fires in the 2011-2014 Kia Optima, 2011-2014 Kia Sorento, and 2010-2015 Kia Soul. While prior recalls of vehicles covered by this PE have primarily related to engine fires, NHTSA-s Preliminary Evaluation is not limited to engine components and may cover additional vehicle systems or components as well.Attached is a list of the reference numbers for the 244 VOQs cited above.

  3. INVESTIGATION: Non-crash Vehicle Fires

    NHTSA Defect Investigation #DP18003

    Component(s): Electrical System
    Electrical System: Battery: Propulsion System
    Electrical System: Instrument Panel
    Electrical System:Alternator/Generator/Regulator
    Electrical System:Battery
    Electrical System:Battery:Cables
    Electrical System:Fuses And Circuit Breakers
    Electrical System:Ignition
    Electrical System:Ignition:Anti-Theft Controller
    Electrical System:Ignition:Module
    Electrical System:Ignition:Switch
    Electrical System:Starter Assembly
    Electrical System:Starter Assembly:Relay
    Electrical System:Starter Assembly:Solenoid
    Electrical System:Wiring
    Electrical System:Wiring: Rear Compartment/Trunk
    Electrical System:Wiring:Front Underhood
    Electrical System:Wiring:Interior/Under Dash
    Engine
    Engine And Engine Cooling
    Engine And Engine Cooling:Cooling System
    Engine And Engine Cooling:Cooling System:Fan
    Engine And Engine Cooling:Cooling System:Hose
    Engine And Engine Cooling:Cooling System:Radiator Assembly
    Engine And Engine Cooling:Engine
    Engine And Engine Cooling:Engine:Gasoline
    Engine And Engine Cooling:Engine:Gasoline:Belts

    Summary: In a letter dated June 11, 2018, the Center for Auto Safety (CAS) petitioned the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to initiate a safety defect investigation into non-collision related fires on model year (MY) 2011-2014 Kia Optima and Sorento, and Hyundai Sonata and Santa Fe vehicles. In a letter dated July 24, 2018, CAS requested that MY 2010-2015 Kia Soul vehicles be added to the petition. CAS stated that there is a higher number of complaints to NHTSA regarding non-crash fires on these vehicles compared to other similar vehicles. The Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) had already opened Recall Queries (RQ17-003 and RQ17-004) on all Kia and Hyundai vehicles equipped with Theta II engines for engine failures that may cause stalling and fires.The queries cover most of the petition subject Optima, Sorento, Sonata, and Santa Fe vehicles but not any of the subject Soul vehicles.On August 21, 2018, ODI opened a Defect Petition (DP18-003) to evaluate whether to grant or deny the CAS petition. ODI sent Information Request letters to Kia and Hyundai (September and October 2018) requesting information on all engine and non-engine related fires in the petition vehicles.ODI performed extensive analysis on the information obtained from Kia and Hyundai. During the DP18-003 analysis, Kia and Hyundai each initiated three additional safety recalls related to engine compartment fires on certain petitioned and non-petitioned vehicles (nearly 740,000 total vehicles: Recalls 18V-907, 18V-934, 19V-101, 19V-063, 19V-120, and 19V-204). Based on ODI-s review of the applicable materials, including responses to Information Requests sent to multiple manufacturers, Vehicle Owner Questionnaires (VOQ), and Early Warning Data, NHTSA decided to grant the petition.The CAS petition was granted on March 29, 2019. Preliminary Evaluations (PE19-003 on Hyundai and PE19-004 on Kia) have been opened to assess the scope, frequency, and potential safety-related consequences of alleged defects relating to non-collision vehicle fires in the 2011-2014 Kia Optima and Sorento, 2011-2014 Hyundai Sonata and Santa Fe, and 2010-2015 Kia Soul.Attached is a list of the reference numbers for the 404 VOQs cited above.

  4. INVESTIGATION: Scope and Timeliness

    NHTSA Defect Investigation #RQ17003

    • Status:
      PENDING
    • Date Opened: May 18, 2017
    • Date Closed: N/A
    • Recall: No recall yet

    Component(s): Engine

    Summary: On March 31, 2017, Kia Motors America (Kia) filed a Defect Information Report (DIR) recalling 618,160 MY 2011-2014 Optima, MY 2012-2014 Sorento, and MY 2011-2013 Sportage vehicles with "Theta II" engines (Recall No. 17V-224)."Theta II" engines are a family of engines used by both Kia and Hyundai Motor America (Hyundai). Kia's DIR described the defect as an issue involving manufacturing debris as well as a machining process causing an uneven surface roughness which could restrict oil flow within the engine. Previously, on September 10, 2015, Hyundai filed a DIR recalling certain vehicles containing engines from the shared "Theta II" engine family, describing the defect as an issue involving manufacturing debris. Kia's March 31, 2017, DIR stated that Kia did not conduct a recall upon learning of Hyundai's September 2015 recall because Kia's "Theta II" engines were manufactured on a different production line and did not have the same manufacturing issue.This RQ is being opened to investigate both the timeliness and scope of Kia's "Theta II" engine recall, and Kia's compliance with reporting requirements.

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