Hyundai and Kia are recalling 1.5 million cars and SUVs in the U.S. and South Korea in connection to possible engine defects that could lead vehicles to stall. The bulk of the vehicles — some 1.3 million — have been sold in the U.S. and include the Kia Optima, Sorento and Sportage, as well as the Hyundai Sonata and Santa Fe, with another 171,348 vehicles in South Korea.
The engines in question are 2.0-liter and 2.4-liter four-cylinder direct-injected (GDI) units code-named Theta II, which are used in a wide variety of Hyundai and Kia vehicles in North America and in the automakers' home country. The affected engines were all produced before August 2013, according to Korea's Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport, with the risk of stalling linked to metal debris in crankshafts, left over from the manufacturing process. The new recall is expected to be the second for this type of engine that will address manufacturing defects.
The issue is reportedly related to a manufacturing issue rather than a design or structural problem with the engine — it concerns only older versions of the engine. The automakers plan to install replacement engines if an inspection reveals engine damage due to this debris, but it's not expecting to replace all engines as a matter of course.
Hyundai and Kia have not announced the manufacturing cutoff points for the affected engines, as well as which model-year vehicles will be a part of this recall in the U.S. The starting point of a recall campaign in the U.S. has not been announced yet, either.
The planned recall brings back the specter of quality issues that Kia and Hyundai have largely left behind, with the wide-ranging campaign expected to cost the companies tens of millions of dollars in the U.S. alone.