Class-action lawsuit alleges defect exists in some Kia engines
Ross McLaughlin & Carly Yoshida, CTV Vancouver
Published Thursday, July 7, 2016 2:18PM PDT
Kia is being sued over engine failures in the U.S. and has responded by offering extended warranties on some Kia Optimas in both the U.S. and Canada.
A class-action lawsuit filed in the U.S. alleges some models of Kia’s Optima, Sportage, and Sorento vehicles have a defect that could cause “catastrophic engine failure.”
In September 2015, some 2011 and 2012 Sonatas were recalled in both Canada and the U.S. over the possibility of engine failure from restricted oil flow to the bearings. The lawsuit alleges the same kind of wear has been found in some seized Kia engines. The affected Hyundai engines were assembled at a plant in the U.S.
"In the Hyundai case, what we were able to do is get the warranty extended but then also individuals who experience the engine failure got reimbursed for any out of pocket repairs,” said Schelkopf.
The lawsuit was filed against Kia on June 2. Eight days later, Kia sent a letter to Optima owners in the U.S. extending the warranty on all 2011 to 2014 models with 2.4-litre or 2.0-litre GDI engines.
Kia has not filed a response to the lawsuit, but in a statement to CTV News, Kia Motors America admitted the Optima engines were experiencing piston connection rod damage issues and that it may impact owners not covered by warranty, so Kia extended it to 10 years or 100,000 miles. The extended warranty applies to both new and used Optima owners.
Schelkopf says he’s started to hear from Canadians having similar engine issues.
"We've been contacted by a number of people from Canada so we're going through now with that investigation to determine the supplier of these engines,” said Schelkopf.
Transport Canada says Kias sold in Canada have engines made in Korea and not in the U.S, but Kia Canada has since offered the same warranty extension of 10 years or 200,000 km to some Kia Optima owners in Canada. Kia has not admitted to a problem with their engines in Canada but says the extension has been offered to “minimize confusion” to Canadian customers.
However, a Vancouver man was left stranded with no coverage for his used 2011 Kia Optima when it broke down in April, just one month after he bought it.
“I thought I was going to be covered under a warranty but unfortunately I wasn't,” said Parmar.
It had only about 50,000 km on it, and even though Mitch Parmar’s car was under warranty, Kia wouldn’t cover him because the company said service records didn’t exist for the first 17,000 km when he didn’t own the vehicle.
Kia Canada attributed the engine failure to low oil levels as a result of lack of scheduled maintenance. But George Iny with the Canadian Automotive Protection Association doesn’t believe that’s what caused the failure.
“It’s not true that it’s related to an oil change that you missed 50,000 km ago. It could happen in other situations as well,” he said. Iny believes Parmar’s issue is related to what is happening with seized engines in the U.S.
"It's possible that they would develop the same flaws or come from the factory with the same weaknesses,” said Iny.
As for Parmar’s Kia Optima, the Ford dealer who originally sold him the car took it back and put him into a newer Mustang.
Kia Canada says it’s preparing a letter to send out to Kia Optima owners about the warranty extension and the reasons behind it. The company told CTV News that the notices are to be mailed at the end of July.
Kia did not respond to repeated requests for comment about the lawsuit and the allegations about other models, and the company is not admitting to any issues in Canada.
Statement to CTV News from Kia follows: