Engine Fires


In 2017, the Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) opened two Recall Queries (RQ17-003 and 004) following multiple recall actions initiated by Hyundai and Kia for "Theta II? engine-equipped vehicles. The RQs were opened to investigate both the timeliness and scope of the recalls as well as the compliance of each company to meet their reporting requirements established under the Motor Vehicle Safety Act. Numerous violations of the requirements were found for both companies, and in on November 20, 2020, both companies entered into Consent Orders with NHTSA to resolve NHTSA"s assertions of violations of law. Both Consent Orders remain in effect.In 2018, the Center for Automotive Safety (CAS) petitioned the Agency under Defect Petition (DP) 18-003 to investigate non-crash fires on various Hyundai and Kia models, citing 120 VOQs alleging vehicle fires at varying points of origin and occurring under various non-crash related circumstances (including key-off fires). In opening DP18-003, ODI noted that many of the 120 fire incidents appeared to originate in the engine compartment area and made reference to the two open RQ investigations as likely pertinent. ODI issued information request (IR) letters to Hyundai and Kia and several peer OEMs in its efforts to properly evaluate and disposition CAS" petition.After reviewing responses to the DP requests, ODI granted CAS" petition and in 2019 opened two Preliminary Evaluations (PE19-003 and 19-004, one for each company) to broadly investigate incidents of non-crash fires (regardless of origin or operational status of the vehicle) on various model year Hyundai (Sonata and Santa Fe) and Kia (Optima, Sorento and Soul) models. ODI issued additional, more broadly scoped IR letters to both Hyundai and Kia, which upon review, identified certain vehicle populations exhibiting higher rates of non-crash fires for various defects and points of origin, including some due to engine failure.To date, Hyundai and Kia have issued several recallsto address vehicle fires, including those due to engine failure involving various engine types (Theta II GDI, Theta II MPI, Theta II MPI HEV, Nu GDI, and Gamma GDI). The remedies for the engine failure recalls typically involve engine inspection (to detect existing damage), and if necessary, engine replacement. Additionally, both manufacturers are installing an engine control software modification known as Knock Sensor Detection Software (KSDS) which is intended to detect impending engine failure, alert the driver, and limit engine power (to lessen likelihood of engine failure). KSDS is being installed under recalls and non-safety field actions, and both companies have extended limited engine warranties (see recall files). They have even replaced engines if the KSDS software detects an impending engine failure.The 78 VOQs cited above, which all involve fires likely due to engine failure, consist of 36 remedy-related and 42 scope-related incidents. The injury allegations involve eye and burn injuries not requiring medical treatment. With the 83 Other VOQs, ODI is aware of 161 fires potentially due to engine failures. The downloadable version of the resume available at NHTSA.gov contains additional information on the recall actions and ID numbers for the VOQs.The Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) is opening this Engineering Analysis for two primary purposes. First, the investigation will continue to evaluate the scope of recalls initially begun under prior ODI actions (see below), and will also include other recalls for fires due to engine failures, which Hyundai and Kia have subsequently launched (many influenced by ODI investigations). Second, the investig
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Date Opened
DEC 22, 2021
Date Closed
NHTSA Recall #
No recall yet
  • Status:
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