Kia Motors began as a small bicycle parts manufacturer called “Kyungsung Precision Industry” on the outskirts of Seoul, Korea in 1944. The company originally made bicycle frames and steel tubing by hand until 1951 when they began to expand their market. They started by designing and manufacturing motor scooters and small trucks, and, in the early ‘70s, produced their first car.
Kia completed South Korea's first fully integrated automotive assembly plant, the Sohari Plant, in 1973, and produced the country's first passenger car, the Brisa, in 1974. In the ‘80s, Kia worked with Ford Motor Company to sell their cars in the US under names like the Ford Pride, Aspire, and Festiva, and in 1991 Kia began selling cars in the United States under its own brand name.
In 1997, Kia collapsed under the weight of the Asian financial crisis and had to file for bankruptcy. Hyundai ended up outcompeting with Ford and Korean automaker Daewoo Motors for the ownership of Kia. Since then, Kia has become the fastest growing automobile maker in the world and is sold in 172 countries around the world with 13 manufacturing plants. In 2014, Hyundai Kia Automotive Group sold almost 3 million units.
Kia Defects and Recalls
This section by no means represents a comprehensive list of manufacturing and operating malfunctions, and it is advisable to check for complete information on any recalls that may apply to your vehicle in order to quickly and safely address them. The following information, however, compiles some of the past and current common issues that Kia owners may experience.
In June of 2016, Kia was hit with a class action lawsuit due to an alleged flaw with their 2011-2014 Kia Optima, 2011-2014 Kia Sportage, and 2012-2014 Kia Sorento, although more models may be added at a later date. The plaintiffs assert that the particular engine used in these models, Theta 2-liter and 2.4-liter gasoline direct injection engines of “GDI” engines, is prone to a latent defect wherein the flow of oil is restricted in the connecting rod bearings and other important parts of the engine. This can cause sudden and complete engine failure while the car is in operation, increasing the risk of accident and injury.
One of the plaintiffs, Jodi Peltier, says that her 2013 Kia Sorento stalled on the interstate at high speeds with her two children in the back seat. In the lawsuit, the plaintiffs say that the defect usually occurs soon after the warranty on the car has expired and also that Kia has known about the issue for a long time but has done nothing to inform customers about potential dangers and lowered resale value on the vehicle. The automaker frequently refuses to repair the engine problem even when the car is still under warranty and have failed to issue a recall to address the recurring problem.
In November of 2015, Kia issued a massive recall of 256,000 Kia Souls from 2014 to 2016 for a potential loss of steering. In the report that Kia submitted to the government, they indicate that the adhesive used to attach the steering pinion gear and the steering gear assembly may not be strong enough to last and therefore may allow the parts to separate. In this case, the driver would lose their ability to control the vehicle suddenly while operating their vehicle. Dealers will inspect the part, replace the pinion plug, and add an additional bolt if necessary.
In July of 2014, Kia recalled 56,000 2014 Kia Souls for the same problem. There were no reported accidents or injuries reported that were associated with the potential defect, and Kia was alerted to the problem due to three warranty claims concerning the steering component. Kia says that they were able to track the problem back to a parts supplier.
Hood Latch Defect
Kia recently recalled almost 200,000 Sedona minivans from 2006-2014 due to a hood latch problem which may allow the front hood to come up while the car is in motion, obstructing the driver's view and greatly increasing the risk of collision. The defect is due to an issue with the secondary latch, which may become permanently unlatched, even when the hood is closed. If the primary latch is unintentionally released from within the car, the secondary latch would not prevent the hood from flying up.
In 2015, Kia recalled 377,000 Sorento SUVs from 2011-2013 due to a risk of the vehicle rolling away. According to a statement from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the issue occurs when the gear-shift lever is moved forcefully over time, which can degrade the mechanism and allow the vehicle to be shifted out of park even when the brake is not depressed. This may result in a unintentional shifting which could cause the car to roll away and injure drivers, passengers, or bystanders. Three alleged injuries and 54 warranty claims are associated with the faulty mechanism.
In 2012, Kia and Hyundai agreed to reimburse 900,000 vehicle owners to make up for inflated gas mileage claims on many of their models. The company set up a program to give their customers personalized debit cards reimbursing them for the cost of extra gas corresponding to the number of miles already driven plus %15 as an apology from the automaker. Later that year, Kia settled a class action lawsuit that would offer the affected customers an average $667 in a lump sum as an alternative to the debit card.
Representation for Colorado Personal Injury Victims
Automakers often provide warranties to reassure customers that they are making a solid financial decision by investing in their brand. Unfortunately, companies will often deny their responsibility to cover certain components of vehicles that malfunction even while the warranty is active. Moreover, a warranty does not excuse the company from being liable for an accident or injury resulting from a dangerous or poorly manufactured vehicle. The company may fix the part, but refuse to pay for your injuries or emotional damage. If you are suffering from unfair treatment by an automaker, you need an attorney on your side who will fight for what you deserve. Call the Law Offices of Jeremy Rosenthal at (303) 853-2223 today to set up your free case consultation or contact him online.