Hyundai & Kia Engine Fires Class Action Reaches $1.3 Billion Settlement

On May 10, a $1.3 billion dollar settlement regarding certain Hyundai and Kia models received final approval.

Jacalyn Crecelius, J.D.

Written by
— Updated on April 11, 2022

Hyundai & Kia Engine Fires Class Action Reaches $1.3 Billion Settlement

Originally estimated to be a $758 million payout, this boosted deal will affect 3.9 million class-defined vehicle drivers. Associated defects can cause engine seizure or stalling, engine failure, and even fire. Potential awards include warranty extensions, repair reimbursement, and compensation for those models traded in or involved in engine fires.

Case Background

The present settlement dates back to May 2017. Plaintiffs submitted a proposed class action against carmakers. The filing claimed that Hyundai and Kia knew of engine defects but failed to disclose that information. That same month, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration opened an investigation of their own. They were particularly interested in Hyundai and Kia’s handling of a 1.6 million vehicle recall over an engine failure defect. In fact, the companies initiated several similar recalls as far back as 2015.

Additional plaintiffs filed class action proposals in August and December of 2017. Even more filings followed in January and April of 2018. In August 2018, the U.S. District Court for California’s Central District ultimately ordered the consolidation of all engine fire-related claims. The consolidation formed multidistrict litigation (MDL). MDL differs from class actions as each lawsuit remains separate but allows for consistent outcomes across similar cases. Legal teams tackle discovery, depositions, and common questions of fact decisions jointly. This approach allows for more cost and time efficiency. Shortly after these suits were consolidated, they received approval for settlement discussions.

Not an Admission of Liability

Importantly, this settlement does not equate to a Hyundai or Kia admission of liability. It merely indicates an unwillingness to take litigation further. This can happen for various reasons but is most likely a simple cost determination. Rather than litigate on their own, it is often much more cost-effective for plaintiffs to join a class. Defendant corporations typically prefer this option, too.  At some point, there are just too many potential plaintiff payouts to take it to court. Instead, reaching a settlement and defining the class will save a lot of money in the long run. This is particularly true with more than one class action at issue.

The Vehicle Models at Issue

The vehicles named here were those originally equipped or replaced with Theta II 2-liter or 2.4-liter gasoline direct injection engines. Specific Hyundai models affected are the 2011-2018 Sonata, 2013-2018 Santa Fe Sport, and 2014-2015, 2018 Tucson. Kia vehicles covered are the Optima, Sorento, and Sportage, years 2011-2018. Names models may also include certain 2019 models of the above six vehicle types. This depends on whether they were manufactured before knock sensor detection system technology was implemented.

Important Information for Claimants

In order to seek reimbursement, individuals must submit claim forms for either Hyundai or Kia by August 9, 2021. It is still possible to benefit without submission, however. Assuming claimants did not opt-out by the October 30, 2020 deadline, they can still benefit from a new lifetime warranty. The only caveat to that warranty is the installation of a knock sensor detection system update.

Claimants must send claims to the respective class action administrators by August 9, 2021, in order to qualify for monetary reimbursement. Administrators calculated this date by a required 90-day window from the date of the settlement’s approval.  Class administrators will not consider late forms. Individuals may submit claims online (Kia or Hyundai), by email, or by mail. They may also find descriptions of required documentation and frequently asked questions here for Kia and here for Hyundai.

A Reminder for Impacted Parties

Submit claims by August 9, 2021. Rewards often go unclaimed in class action cases and corporations are banking on that. Many potential claimants miss their chance altogether simply because they don’t know that chance exists. Then again, by reading this you’re already ahead of the game.

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