Despite a government shutdown, Hyundai and Kia are moving ahead with a recall of about 168,000 vehicles to fix a fuel pipe problem that can cause engine fires. The problem stems from improper repairs during previous recalls for engine failures.
The affiliated Korean automakers have been dogged by fire and engine failure complaints from across the nation. They’re both under investigation by the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which has been trying to figure out whether initial recalls covered enough vehicles. But the agency is mostly closed due to the shutdown.
In addition to the recall, each automaker says it will do a “product improvement campaign” covering a total of 3.7 million vehicles to install software that will alert drivers of possible engine failures and send the cars into a reduced-speed “limp” mode if problems are detected.
NHTSA employees who do safety investigations and recall notifications are not at work. Under normal circumstances, the agency would review the recalls to make sure they are adequate and post details on the agency website. It also would monitor notices to customers, and make sure customers could check to see if their vehicles are included.
Kia spokesman James Bell said the company is proceeding with the recall and campaign regardless of government delays.
“Making our customers comfortable is vastly more important than making sure we’re following additional government processes right now,” he said. Kia sent letters to dealers around Jan. 10 notifying them of the recall, he said.
But a U.S. auto safety advocate called the recalls inadequate and said the product improvement campaigns should instead be recalls that are overseen by NHTSA.
A NHTSA spokeswoman said she could not comment due to the shutdown.
Hyundai and Kia started recalling 1.7 million vehicles in 2015 — about 618,000 of which are Kias — because manufacturing debris can restrict oil flow to connecting rod bearings. That can cause bearings in 2-liter and 2.4-liter four-cylinder engines to wear and fail. The problem can also cause fires. The repair in many cases is an expensive engine block replacement.
Now the companies are acknowledging that the engine replacements may not have been properly done in all cases by dealers. A Kia statement says the high-pressure fuel pipe may have been damaged, misaligned or improperly tightened while the engines were being replaced under recall. That can allow fuel to leak and hit hot engine parts, causing fires.
Kia says it has six reports of fires among the vehicles being recalled for possible fuel leaks, while Hyundai says it has no fire reports. Neither company had any reports of injuries.
The fuel injector pipe recall covers some 2011 through 2014 Kia Optima cars, 2012 through 2014 Sorrento SUVs, and 2011 through 2013 Sportage SUVs, all with 2-liter and 2.4-liter four-cylinder engines. Also covered are many 2011 to 2014 Hyundai Sonata cars and 2013 and 2014 Santa Fe Sport SUVs.
More than 2 million 2011 Sonatas from the 2011 through 2018 model years and Santa Fe Sports from 2013 through 2018 are covered by the software and engine knock sensor updates. About 1.7 million Kias including the 2011 through 2018 Optima, the 2012 through 2018 Sorento and 2011 through 18 Sportage are covered.
The companies say owners of the recalled vehicles will be notified by letter. Dealers will check the fuel pipe for leaks and replace the pipe if needed.
Kia is only doing the fix on 68,000 of its 618,000 vehicles recalled for the engine problems, while Hyundai is recalling 100,000 of more than 1 million. Hyundai said only vehicles that had engines replaced in the previous recalls are covered by the new recall.
Jason Levine, executive director of the nonprofit Center For Auto Safety, said Kia limited the latest recall to a relatively small number of vehicles without adequate explanation, raising more questions than answers. He said some consumers have complained of fires in vehicles that weren’t included in the engine repair recalls.
He also raised concerns about the government shutdown’s impact on NHTSA, which he said should be open to handle critical safety recalls.
“This is the exact scenario where you should have safety and enforcement people coming in and doing their jobs,” he said.
The last recall posted on NHTSA’s website was dated Dec. 18, four days before the shutdown began. The agency said it a statement that it “may recall furloughed employees if NHTSA becomes aware of information concerning suspended functions that involve imminent threats to the safety of human life or protection of property.”
9-year-old genius to graduate university
(CNN) – A child prodigy from Belgium is on course to gain a bachelor’s degree at the tender age of 9.
Laurent Simons is studying electrical engineering at the Eindhoven University of Technology (TUE) — a tough course even for students of an average graduate age.
Described by staff as “simply extraordinary,” Laurent is on course to finish his degree in December.
He then plans to embark on a PhD program in electrical engineering while also studying for a medicine degree, his father told CNN.
His parents, Lydia and Alexander Simons, said they thought Laurent’s grandparents were exaggerating when they said he had a gift, but his teachers soon concurred.
“They noticed something very special about Laurent,” said Lydia.
Laurent was given test after test as teachers tried to work out the extent of his talents. “They told us he is like a sponge,” said Alexander.
While Laurent comes from a family of doctors, his parents have so far not received any explanation as to why their child prodigy is capable of learning so quickly.
But Lydia has her own theory.
“I ate a lot of fish during the pregnancy,” she joked.
The TUE has allowed Laurent to complete his course faster than other students.
“That is not unusual,” said Sjoerd Hulshof, education director of the TUE bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering, in a statement.
“Special students that have good reasons for doing so can arrange an adjusted schedule. In much the same way we help students who participate in top sport.”
Hulshof said Laurent is “simply extraordinary” and praised the youngster.
“Laurent is the fastest student we have ever had here,” he said. “Not only is he hyper intelligent but also a very sympathetic boy.”
Laurent told CNN his favorite subject is electrical engineering and he’s also “going to study a bit of medicine.”
His progress has not gone unnoticed and he is already being sought out by prestigious universities around the world, although Laurent’s family wouldn’t be drawn on naming which of them he is considering for his PhD.
“The absorption of information is no problem for Laurent,” said his father.
“I think the focus will be on research and applying the knowledge to discover new things.”
While Laurent is evidently able to learn faster than most, his parents are being careful to let him enjoy himself too.
“We don’t want him to get too serious. He does whatever he likes,” said Alexander. “We need to find a balance between being a child and his talents.”
Laurent said he enjoys playing with his dog Sammy and playing on his phone, like many young people.
However, unlike most 9-year-olds, he has already worked out what he wants to do with his life: develop artificial organs.
In the meantime, Laurent has to finish his bachelor’s degree and choose which academic institution will play host to the next stage in his remarkable journey.
Before that, he plans on taking a vacation to Japan for an undoubtedly well-deserved break.
New award to honor arts and activism named after Lena Horne
Gang members slam BMW into rival and his 8-year-old son in Harlem
Two gangbangers aimed their BMW like a missile at a father and his 8-year-old son on a Harlem sidewalk in a horrifying incident captured by video distributed by police Thursday.
The BMW — driven by a man police believe is a member of the Gorilla Stone Bloods Gang — was zeroed in on the father, a rival gang member, said cops.
Around 3:45 p.m. Nov. 6, the boy and his father were walking on W. 112th St. by Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd. when the BMW jumped the sidewalk and slammed into them both, said cops.
🚨WANTED for ASSAULT: on 11/6 at approx 3:43 PM in front of 128 West 112th St in Manhattan, a 32 yr old male was walking with his 8 yr old son when a white BMW jumped the curb & hit the father & son. The driver then got out and slashed the father. Call @NYPDTips with any info. pic.twitter.com/cwd79rcM4c
— NYPD NEWS (@NYPDnews) November 15, 2019
Father and son were both knocked through a gate.
The BMW driver then backed up — and its driver and passenger, also believed to be a gang member, jumped out of the car and ran toward the father and the son.
One of the attackers slashed the father, identified by sources as 32-year-old Brian McIntosh, who’s served prison time for robbery and bail jumping.
McIntosh and his son went to Harlem Hospital. Miraculously, the boy escaped serious harm.
McIntosh was so adamant about refusing to help police catch his attackers that the young boy’s mother had to file a police report alleging he was the victim of a crime, police sources said.
Cops released video of the attack, and ask anyone with information about the suspects to call Crime Stoppers at (800) 577-TIPS.
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