Safety First

NHTSA slaps Hyundai, Kia with $210 million penalty for engine failures

The Theta II engine, shown here in the 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport, was the subject of a massive recall.

Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor America

Half a decade's worth of Hyundai and Kia vehicles have been effected by recalls regarding their Theta II engines. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) launched an inquiry into the timelines of the recalls, which were issued from 2015 to 2017 for engines and found that both Hyundai and Kia conducted untimely recalls and reported inaccurate information to the NHTSA.

Hyundai and Kia share common ownership.

The Theta II engine came in 2.4-liter and 2.0-liter variants. Over 1.6 million vehicles came equipped with the engine including 2011-2014 model year Hyundai Sonatas, 2013-2014 Hyundai Santa Fe Sports, 2011-2014 Kia Optimas, 2012- 2014 Kia Sorentos, and 2011-2013 Sportages.

NHTSA detailed the engine defect in its consent orders with the companies:

"Metal debris may have been generated from factory machining operations as part of the manufacturing of the engine crankshaft which may not have been completely removed from the crankshaft's oil passages during the cleaning process. In addition, the machining processes of the crankpins caused an uneven surface roughness. As a result, the metal debris and uneven surface roughness can restrict oil flow to the bearings, thereby increasing bearing temperatures causing premature bearing wear. A worn connecting rod bearing will produce a cyclic knocking noise from the engine and may also result in the illumination of the engine warning lamp and/or oil pressure lamp in the instrument panel. If the warnings are ignored and the vehicle is continued to be driven, the bearing may fail and the vehicle could stall while in motion."

"Safety is NHTSA's top priority," said NHTSA Deputy Administrator James Owens. "It's critical that manufacturers appropriately recognize the urgency of their safety recall responsibilities and provide timely and candid information to the agency about all safety issues."

The $210 million is an amount split between the two companies. Kia is responsible for $70 million of the payout. According to the signed consent order between the company and the NHTSA, Kia is required to pay $27 million by January 22, 2021. An additional $27 million payment is deferred and held in abeyance by NHTSA pending Kia's satisfactory completion of the stipulations of the order. Kia is required to pay an additional $16 million to create advanced data analytics capabilities to enhance its ability to detect and study emerging safety-related defect trends on its vehicles.

Kia has also committed to creating a Kia Safety Office, which will be headed by a Chief Safety Officer (CSO) who is authorized to exercise all safety-recall decision-making for the United States market, independently and without approval from Kia Motors Corporation including its parent company in Korea. The CSO is expected to have a continuing relationship with the NHTSA on this issue and future safety concerns.

Hyundai will pay $140 million in civil penalties for their actions regarding the recall. The first chunk, $54 million, is expected to be paid by January 22, 2021. An additional $46 million payment is deferred and held in abeyance by NHTSA pending Hyundai's satisfactory completion of the stipulations of the order. Hyundai is required to invest $40 million into safety infrastructure. That amount is further broken down into two parts: $15 million for the ability to detect and study emerging safety-related defect trends on its vehicles and $25 million for a test and inspection laboratory.

Like with Kia, Hyundai is required to hire a CSO. In Hyundai's case, that individual will lead the HMNA North American Safety Office while making independent decisions regarding recalls and safety issues. Like Kia's CSO, this individual is expected to have a continuing relationship with the NHTSA.

Additionally liabilities and penalties are possible.

Hyundai has already appointed its CSO, Brian Latouf. Latouf joined Hyundai after a long career working inn various safety-centric positions at General Motors.

"Customer safety is our highest priority and we are taking immediate action to enhance our response to potential safety concerns," said Latouf. "We value a collaborative and cooperative relationship with the U.S. Department of Transportation and NHTSA, and will continue to work closely with the agency to proactively identify and address potential safety issues. We are committed to a best in class U.S. safety office."

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Nuts & Bolts

 
 

The Ford Motor Company will recall about 3 million vehicles as part of the Takata airbag recall.

Photo by Matthew Horwood/Getty Images

Following the denial of a 2017 petition to the U.S. Department of Transportation National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Ford Motor Company has announced a recall of 3 million vehicles, a move that will cost the company an estimated $610 million, according to internal estimates.

The petition is part of the larger Takata airbag recall and specifically involves the defect of phase-stabilized ammonium nitrate in the driver-side air bag inflators that Takata manufactured with a calcium sulfate desiccant. Ford wasn't the only recipient of the defective inflators. Mazda also utilized the parts.

The list of impacted Ford vehicles ranges from the 2006 to 2012 model years. They include Ford Ranger (2007-2011), Fusion (2006-2012), Edge (2007-2010), Lincoln MKZ/Zephyr (2006-2012), MKX (2007-2010), and Mercury Milan (2006-2011). Approximately 2.7 million of those vehicles are in the U.S. and 300,000 are in Canada.

Mazda is also part of the recall, with 5,848 vehicles effected by the inflator issue. Those models are 2007-2009 B-Series pickup trucks, which were built on the same platform using the same air bag inflators as the 2007-2011 Ford Ranger.

Late last year, the NHTSA ordered General Motors to recall 7 million trucks and SUVs after a four-year back-and-forth battle over whether or not the Takata air bag recall was absolutely necessary for GM products. The models recalled as part of this action are "GMT900" models that contain "SPI YP" and "PSPI-L YD" inflator variants. The GMT900 is a General Motors-specific platform that underpins a number of light- and heavy-duty pickup trucks and SUVs including: Chevrolet Silverado 1500, GMC Sierra 1500, Chevrolet Silverado 2500/3500, GMC Sierra 2500/3500, Chevrolet Tahoe, Chevrolet Suburban, Chevrolet Avalanche, GMC Yukon, GMC Yukon XL, Cadillac Escalade, Cadillac Escalade ESV, and Cadillac Escalade EXT. The petition involves approximately 5.9 million model year 2007–2014 vehicles.

2014 Chevrolet Suburban The 2014 Chevrolet Suburban is one of the models NHTSA recently ruled needed to be recalled. Photo courtesy of Chevrolet

In early 2020, 10 million vehicles were recalled after having their original equipment replaced with new versions of the same thing with the same design and chemistry rather than newly designed parts.

The Takata airbag recalls are part of the largest automotive recall in U.S. history. It involves more than 67 million vehicles to date.

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This 1963 Aston Martin DB4 Series 5 is one of one.

Photo courtesy of Silverstone Auctions

Three vintage Aston Martins will be part of the first Silverstone Auctions sale of the year on March 5-6, 2021. The three models represent some of the rarest Astons in the world. Let's take a closer look.

1963 Aston Martin DB4 Series 5

This car (seen above at the top of the page) is one of just 50 Series 5 DB4 saloons built prior to the arrival of the DB5, and it was one of the last ones off the line. The left-hand drive car retains its original engine and gearbox, and is finished in its original specification of Aegean Blue over White Gold.

The car is well-traveled. It was originally delivered new to California and comes to its new owner with an Aston Martin Assured Provenance document.

If it looks familiar, Bond fans, that's because it was a DB4 Series 5 Vantage that was used in filming "Goldfinger".

1970 Aston Martin DB6 Mk2 Vantage

1970 Aston Martin DB6 Mk2 Vantage

Photo courtesy of Silverstone Auctions

This is one of only 71 DB6 Mk2s that was equipped with the Vantage engine straight from the factory when new. Making it more rare is the fact that it is a right-hand drive saloon with a factory fitted manual gearbox. Those factors make it a one of one.

This chassis has been presented in multiple concours, had several successes with the Aston Martin Owners Club, and has undergone a significant engine overhaul by Aston Martin Works. It's finished in British Racing Green.

1969 Aston Martin DB6 Mk2

1969 Aston Martin DB6 Mk2

Photo courtesy of Silverstone Auctions

Lots of special attention courtesy of Aston Martin Works has made this 1969 DB6 a model worth taking a second look at for enthusiasts looking to invest. A history file of the car detailing all the work done includes notes regarding a full interior retrim, which was conducted at the same factory where the car was originally built.

The model was originally delivered new to Halesowen in October 1969. The car's original Celeste Blue metallic paint job was accompanied by a dark blue Connolly hide interior (bodywork is now finished in dark blue). It was supplied with the optional two front seat belts when new.

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