Hyundai and Kia previously received criticism over poorly engineered powerplants, and past mistakes still haunt the larger automaker. Hyundai has recalled no fewer than 95,515 vehicles from the 2017 model year for the connecting rod bearings, which are prone to wear prematurely.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration opened a preliminary evaluation of this problem in March 2019 after the federal watchdog became aware of non-collision vehicle fires of the 2011 to 2014 Sonata and Santa Fe. Hyundai Motor America helped the agency with precious information over the next two years, and both parties came to the conclusion that certain models experience higher-than-average rates of hole-in-block engine fires.
By certain models, the company refers to the 2017 Tucson and 2017 Sonata Hybrid. The compact utility vehicle and mid-size family car both feature the 2.0-liter GDI engine known as the Nu, and Hyundai is aware of 45 fires related to the recall condition. Subject vehicles were produced in the Ulsan factory in South Korea from May 12th, 2016, through December 27th, 2017.
A worn bearing led to abnormal knocking noise from the direct-injected engine and the illumination of the oil pressure warning light. If the vehicle is continually operated with a worn bearing, the connecting rod is prone to puncture the block and cause oil to leak, translating into a fire risk.
There’s also the possibility of vehicle stall at highway speeds, which increases the risk of a crash and injury. Owners of the aforementioned nameplates will be notified of the callback on November 12th, and in addition to the replacement engine, all vehicles will receive an engine control software update that includes a knock sensor detection system. The KSDS monitors vibrations for patterns that could indicate a damaged rod bearing.
As part of the safety recall campaign, owners who have already replaced the 2.0-liter GDI four-cylinder engine from their pockets will be reimbursed.