Hyundai and Kia are coming under fire for, well, fires. The automaker recently recalled a slew of vehicles due to the risk of engine fire, and now the Highway Loss Data Institute says the turbocharged engines in those cars call for a closer look by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration — along with turbocharged engines in general. According to HLDI, owners of five Hyundai and Kia cars and SUVs report non-crash-related fires at a rate much higher than average.
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In 2015, 2017 and then again in mid-January, Hyundai recalled the 2011-14 Sonata and 2013-14 Santa Fe Sport to fix faulty engine components; the 2011-14 Kia Optima, 2012-14 Sorento and 2011-13 Sportage faced similar issues and were also recalled. Overall, more than 1 million vehicles have been affected by these recalls, Hyundai said.
The engines in question are the turbocharged 2.0-liter and 2.4-liter engines, which the vehicles share. In HLDI’s study, Hyundai and Kia vehicles with the turbocharged 2.0-liter engine had the highest non-crash fire frequency: 4.2 claims per 10,000 insured vehicle years compared with 1.7 for the control vehicles, which is roughly 2.5 times greater for risk of fire. The agency also said that the fire risk went up “dramatically” as the vehicles aged.