— A Hyundai engine recall follows at least 45 fires and affects more than 130,000 model year 2017 Tucson and Sonata Hybrid vehicles which may be at risk of engine stall, damaged engines or fires.
The 2017 Tucson and Sonata Hybrid are equipped with 2.0-liter “Nu” GDI engines produced by Hyundai's engine plant in Ulsan, South Korea.
According to Hyundai, the connecting rod bearings inside the engine may wear prematurely which results in abnormal knocking noise from the Nu engine and illumination of the oil pressure warning light. Continuing to drive the vehicle could damage the engine and cause it to stall.
It's also possible a damaged connecting rod could puncture the engine block and cause engine oil to leak. Oil that leaks onto a hot surface can turn into an engine compartment fire.
The Hyundai engine recall is the result of a June 2018 petition to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) submitted by the Center for Auto Safety. The Center said NHTSA should investigate non-crash fires in 2011-2014 Kia Optima and Sorento, and 2011-2014 Hyundai Sonata and Santa Fe vehicles.
In 2019, the government opened an investigation into non-collision fires in 2011-2014 Hyundai Sonata and 2011-2014 Hyundai Santa Fe vehicles.
NHTSA asked Hyundai for incidents related to Theta II, Lambda II, Gamma and Nu engines using the definition of "fire" described in federal safety standards.
A "fire" includes “thermal events and fire-related phenomena such as smoke and melt,” which means to NHTSA a fire may mean an event without flames or evidence of combustion.
Hyundai had already recalled vehicles to install knock sensor detection system software to allegedly detect gradual engine damage and wear to prevent fires. In December 2020, Hyundai said it was adding the knock sensor software to certain vehicles equipped with 2.0-liter Nu GDI engines.
In July 2021, Hyundai opened an investigation into non-crash fires based on field reports and warranty claims for Hyundai Tucson and Sonata Hybrid vehicles.
According to federal safety regulators:
"While the precise cause of non-collision fires can sometimes vary and information is often inconclusive due to the limitations of fire investigations, certain vehicles appeared to have experienced above average rates of hole-in-block engine fires that ordinarily result from a seized engine that causes a connecting rod to break, puncture the engine block, and potentially allow engine oil to escape the block, come in contact with other hot surfaces in the engine compartment, and produce localized smoke and then fire in the engine compartment." — NHTSA
The U.S. Hyundai engine recall includes 95,515 vehicles and an engine recall in Canada involves 34,607 Tuscons and Sonata Hybrids.
Hyundai engine recall letters should be mailed November 12, 2021. Hyundai dealers will install knock sensor software updates and damaged Nu engines will be replaced.
Model year 2017 Tucson and Sonata Hybrid owners may call Hyundai at 855-371-9460 and ask for information about engine recall number 209.
Canadian Hyundai owners who have questions about the engine call should call 888-216-2626.