Hyundai Motor America and Kia Motors America have entered into an agreement to resolve class action litigation with owners of certain vehicles equipped with Theta II gasoline direct injection (GDI) engines. This agreement will provide various cash compensation options, lifetime warranties, free inspection and repair of the covered engines, and installation of a software update Hyundai and Kia introduced after the case was filed to enhance safety and address this engine’s performance. It also provides additional remedies to address engine concerns and assist customers with these vehicles.

Vehicles in the settlement include 2.3 million Hyundai (2011-2019 Sonata, 2013-2018 Santa Fe Sport, 2019 Santa Fe, and 2014, 2015, 2018, and 2019 Tucson) and 1.8 million Kia (2011-2019 model year Sportage, Sorento and Optima) vehicles with 2.0-liter and 2.4-liter GDI engines.

Terms of the settlement include:

  • Cash reimbursement for certain past repairs and related expenses, such as towing and rental cars;
  • Cash compensation for certain past trade-ins, sales, and in lieu of certain repairs;
  • Free inspection and repair or replacement of damaged engines;
  • Lifetime warranty coverage for short block assembly repairs for original and subsequent owners;
  • Free installation of the knock sensor detection system software update;
  • Various goodwill compensation for customers inconvenienced by previous lengthy engine repair times, denied warranty coverage, and vehicle loss of value, among other provisions 

“Reflecting our commitment to customer satisfaction, Hyundai is pleased to resolve this class action litigation,” said Jerry Flannery, chief legal officer, Hyundai Motor America. “This settlement acknowledges our sincere willingness to take care of customers impacted by issues with this engine’s performance and recognizes the many actions we are already taking to assist our customers.”

“As the latest demonstration of Kia’s commitment to vehicle quality and customer satisfaction, this resolution is the result of good-faith efforts among all parties to resolve owner concerns,” said John Yoon, executive vice president and general counsel, Kia Motors America.

“This settlement is a tremendous outcome for the settlement class and provides significant relief and reimbursements to Hyundai and Kia customers,” said Matthew Schelkopf of Sauder Schelkopf LLC.

“This settlement will put money in the pockets of car owners and lessors and increase safety and reliability,” stated Adam Gonnelli of The Sultzer Law Group P.C. 

“This is a win for consumers and we look forward to presenting the settlement to the court and getting funds distributed to class members,” added Steve Berman of Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP.

The Court is expected to review the proposed settlement for preliminary approval in October 2019. Assuming preliminary approval is granted, notices will be sent to individual class members pursuant to the terms of the settlement. 

These class action lawsuits are In re: Hyundai and Kia Engine Litigation, Case No. 8:17-cv-00838, and Flaherty v. Hyundai Motor Company, et al., Case No. 18-cv-02223, in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.  Plaintiffs in these two actions are represented by Matthew D. Schelkopf of Sauder Schelkopf, Adam Gonnelli of The Sultzer Law Group, Bonner Walsh of Walsh PLLC, and Steve Berman of Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP.

Knock Sensor Detection System Software Update

Each of these vehicles is part of an ongoing product improvement campaign to install an engine monitoring technology called a knock sensor detection system. The technology uses software innovations and leverages existing engine sensors to continuously monitor for symptoms that may precede an engine failure. It is installed free of charge for all vehicles in the settlement by Hyundai and Kia dealers.

The knock sensor detection system software continuously monitors engine vibrations for unusual dynamic patterns that develop as an engine connecting rod bearing wears abnormally in a way that could later cause engine seizure. If vibrations caused by bearing wear start to occur, the malfunction indicator lamp will blink continuously and the vehicle will be placed in a temporary engine protection mode with reduced power and acceleration. In this temporary mode, drivers maintain full control of the vehicle as brakes, steering and safety devices such as airbags remain operational.   

The vehicle can continue to be operated for a limited time in engine protection mode to enable the customer to safely drive it to a dealer for inspection and repair, but acceleration will be slower, with a reduced maximum speed of approximately 60 to 65 mph and a limited engine speed of approximately 1,800 to 2,000 rpm. The knock sensor technology has been evaluated by an independent, leading engineering and scientific consulting firm. When tested using a fleet of vehicles specifically prepared to test the knock sensor technology, the knock sensor system successfully detected failing connecting rod bearings and responded with activation of the engine protection mode.