Kia SoulToyota Motor (TM) and, to a lesser extent, Honda Motor (HMC) have made headlines in recent months for the sheer volume of safety recalls involving the companies' vehicles. Consumer concern about the Japanese makes' commitment to safety and quality have been a boon for South Korean automakers Hyundai Motor and Kia Motors, which have seen sales steadily increase this year. Sales last month in the U.S. were the second best on record for the manufacturers, both units of Hyundai Kia Automotive Group.

Kia, however, may soon the face the sort of scrutiny directed at Toyota and Honda. The National Highway Safety Administration on Monday said it's begun a preliminary investigation into steering problems involving the 2010 Kia Soul, the company's entry into the increasingly competitive "box" car field. Competitors in this small-car "rolling bread box" segment include the Nissan Cube, Honda Element and Toyota's Scion xB.

NHTSA has thus far only received one complaint involving the Soul, but it's a biggie, USA Today notes. The paper reports that the complaint claims "the steering shaft de-coupled from the hand wheel resulting in a complete loss of steering capability." Further, "the de-coupled steering shaft reportedly fell into a position that interfered with brake pedal application."

The vehicle involved had been in use for about two months and had about 4,300 miles on the odometer when the incident supposedly happened, NHTSA says. In the online posting, the agency said its defect-investigations unit "is very concerned about this failure in that it occurred without warning on a new vehicle at low mileage and resulted in a complete loss of steering as well as a compromised brake system."

A preliminary evaluation by NHTSA is the first step in a process that may or may not lead to a recall.

Nearly 37,000 of 2010 model year Souls have been sold so far this year in the U.S., according to sales figures released by Kia earlier this month.

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39 Comments

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ron

"WHO THE HELL WOULD BUY A "KIA" ANYWAYS!

August 17 2010 at 5:40 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
hparsonsjr

MY My could it be that we are just trying to give them a hard way to go, seems to me , that any car made out side USA gets or has a problem,
Yesterday did I not hear another Country is now 2 nd to us AND HOW MANY MORE YEARS TO WE HERE HAVE TO TRY AND PULL THE BLINDERS over our eyes , pLEASE CAN SOME ONE WAKE US UP AND SAY LETS GO BACK TO WORK, AT LEST work as hard at our jobs as every other place, so we can hold on to what little we have left

August 17 2010 at 10:22 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Will

All these announcements after GM was nationalized - by the way, the Toyota brake panic seems to be back to the one accident with a dealer replaced floor mat interfering with the accelerator, all other allegations proved to be baloney.

August 17 2010 at 9:03 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
ferandr4

---just more foreign junk with its' "outstanding" quality, what else is new 11

August 17 2010 at 8:43 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
punnster

I have a 1985 ford pickup that still runs great. Have never had any trouble with it. Considering getting a new car with better gas mileage. The Kia Soul costs a lot less than the comparable Ford Transit Connect. If I go for a new car, It'll be the Ford. Want something I know I can depend on.

August 17 2010 at 7:09 AM Report abuse +5 rate up rate down Reply
NASCARMAN9424

Well now that General Motors cannot compete with the foreign auto makers, I guess now the administration has to resort to smear tactics against it's competitors.

August 17 2010 at 5:56 AM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
mike edwards

when yhe so called unions say buy american remember this is northmerica including canada and mexico isnt this what they mean

August 17 2010 at 5:35 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
enoughtax

Kia blamed the problem on the Bush administration. Obama was unavailable for comment because he was on vacation

August 17 2010 at 3:43 AM Report abuse +6 rate up rate down Reply
Mike

Go ahead and buy cars and trucks from foreign companies...they will love you for it while they are laughing at us

August 17 2010 at 12:02 AM Report abuse +5 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Mike's comment
Will

Not sure what a "foreign company" is these days. For example, USA government owned GM produces and sells more cars in China than USA, overall they make and sell 70% of their cars outside the USA. Ford produces and sells about 23% of their cars in USA. So I guess if a car trade war is in order, you can kiss Ford and GM goodbye as the foriegn buyers will no longer subsidize the UAW.

August 17 2010 at 9:07 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Johnathan

If by foreign company, you mean foreign sounding name, then you are correct. However, KIA, like many 'foreign' cars are assemblied in the US.

August 17 2010 at 10:11 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Mike

Go ahead and buy cars and trucks from foreign companies...they will love you for it while they are laughing at us

August 17 2010 at 12:01 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply