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Hyundai recalls 130,000 Tucson, Sonata vehicles in the U.S., Canada for fire risk

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WASHINGTON — Hyundai Motor America is recalling more than 130,000 vehicles in the U.S. and Canada for an engine defect that can increase the risk of a fire.

The recall covers certain 2017 Tucson compact crossovers and 2017 Sonata Hybrid midsize sedans equipped with 2.0-liter Nu GDI engines produced by the automaker’s engine plant in Ulsan, South Korea, according to a document submitted to NHTSA. The recall affects approximately 95,515 vehicles in the U.S. and 34,607 vehicles in Canada.

The connecting rod bearings in those engines may wear prematurely, which over time can result in engine damage and eventually stall the vehicle during operation.

As of Sept. 17, Hyundai said it was aware of 45 fires in the U.S. related to the issue. The automaker is not aware of any confirmed crashes, injuries or fatalities attributable to the issue, Hyundai spokesman Michael Stewart said.

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Dealers and vehicle owners will receive recall notifications starting Nov. 12.

Dealerships will inspect the engines to determine whether there is any bearing damage. If damage is found, the engine will be replaced.

In addition, Hyundai said all affected vehicles will receive an enhanced engine control software update containing its new Knock Sensor Detection System, which monitors engine vibrations for unusual patterns and helps detect issues that could lead to an engine failure.

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Hyundai’s latest recall stems from a 2019 NHTSA investigation into nearly 1.3 million Sonata and Santa Fe vehicles from the 2011-14 model years over allegations of noncrash vehicle fires. NHTSA sought data regarding noncollision fire incidents of all Hyundai vehicles from all model years equipped with Theta II, Lambda II, Gamma and Nu engines.

“We value a collaborative and cooperative relationship with NHTSA and continue to fully cooperate with them on the investigation,” Stewart said. “We continue to actively monitor field data and decided to conduct this recall to ensure the safety of our customers.”

For years, Hyundai and affiliate Kia Corp. have been plagued by engine defects, leading to investigations by NHTSA and subsequent recalls.

Last November, Hyundai and Kia’s U.S. units agreed to pay a record $210 million civil penalty after NHTSA said they failed to recall 1.6 million vehicles for engine issues in a timely fashion.

Stewart said Hyundai has adopted “hundreds of modifications and implemented additional manufacturing processes to ensure the quality and integrity” of its engine production.

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