Car Industry

Hyundai recalls 16,500 Velosters over stalling, fire concerns

The problems spring from wonky computer software.

If your engine starts knocking, it's best to pull off the road and shut the vehicle off.

Hyundai

Computers are a part of just about every major system in a new car, and something as seemingly minor as poorly calibrated software can lead to major problems.

Hyundai has issued a recall for 16,487 examples of the 2013 Veloster. All the affected vehicles contain Hyundai's 1.6-liter turbocharged I4 gas engine. The vehicles were all built at Hyundai's Ulsan facility in Korea and carry build dates between April 26, 2012 and Oct. 16, 2013.

The problem stems from the engine management software. In the affected vehicles, the software might cause the air-fuel mixture in the cylinder to ignite at the wrong time. This can lead to increased cylinder pressures that have the potential to damage the engine, leading to a vehicle stall or possibly even a fire. Drivers might hear a knocking noise and see a warning light illuminate in the gauge cluster.

Hyundai discovered this flaw after NHTSA's Office of Defects Investigation claimed to find a trend in stalls and noncollision fires in certain Veloster vehicles. Hyundai checked all its data and found that claims for stalls and noncollision fires dropped significantly starting in the 2014 model year. After diving deeper, Hyundai concluded that software from the 2013 model year was causing these issues. Thankfully, there are no reports of accidents or injuries related to this flaw.

Thankfully, the fix is a quick one. Hyundai technicians will apply a software update that minimizes spark advance, thereby reducing the change of preignition. Hyundai will also reimburse owners who paid for related fixes out of pocket. Owners should expect to receive a recall notification via first-class mail in May.