DETROIT (AP) — Hyundai and Kia are telling owners of nearly 485,000 vehicles in the United States to park them outside because they can catch fire even if the engines have been turned off.
The recalls from the two Korean automakers add to a long string of fire and engine failure problems that have plagued the companies over the past six years.
This time the problem is contamination in the anti-lock brake control module which can cause a short circuit. This increases the risk of fire while driving or parking vehicles.
Affected are certain 2014-2016 Kia Sportage SUVs and the 2016-2018 K900 Sedan. Recalled Hyundais include certain 2016-2018 Santa Fe SUVs, 2017 and 2018 Santa Fe Sports, 2019 Santa Fe XL and 2014 Tucson SUVs and 2015.
Automakers say they have 11 reports of fires in the United States, but no injuries.
Documents released Tuesday by U.S. safety officials say owners must park vehicles outside and away from structures until repairs are made.
Dealers will replace a fuse. Additionally, Hyundai dealers will inspect the control modules and replace them if necessary. Hyundai will send notification letters from April 5 and Kia will send them on March 31.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says owners can go to www.nhtsa.gov and enter their 17-digit vehicle identification number to see if their automobile is recalled.
Hyundai said that when it detects a safety defect “we act quickly and efficiently to recall the vehicle and resolve the issue at no cost to affected customers.”
Kia said there were warning signs drivers could see or smell. The anti-lock brake warning light might come on and they might smell something burning or melting, or see smoke coming from the engine bay.
Tuesday’s recalls come after the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration stepped up a series of investigations into engine bay fires that have plagued Korean automakers.
In December, the agency consolidated two 2017 investigations into a new technical analysis covering more than 3 million vehicles from model years 2011 through 2016. At the time, NHTSA had received 161 engine fire complaints, some of which have occurred in previously recalled vehicles.
The companies’ first recall related to engine failures and fires was in September 2015. Since then, they’ve issued at least eight other recalls for a host of engine issues, according to NHTSA documents.
The agency said it was assessing whether previous recalls covered enough vehicles. It will also monitor the effectiveness of previous recalls “as well as the long-term viability of related programs and non-safety related field actions by Hyundai and Kia.”
At the time, automakers said they undertook numerous recalls to address engine issues, including recalls, new engine monitoring technology and extended warranties.
Michael Brooks, chief attorney for the nonprofit Center for Auto Safety, said Tuesday’s recalls are different from the engine failure issue that caused most of Hyundai-Kia’s previous fire recalls. “While NHTSA has the authority to order a recall and potentially a repurchase of all affected vehicles, the distinct fire defects that have plagued millions of Hyundai vehicles over multiple model years make this task very difficult,” did he declare.
In November 2020, NHTSA announced that Kia and Hyundai had to pay $137 million in fines and safety improvements because they moved too slowly to recall more than a million vehicles whose engines may fail. breakdown. The fines resolved a previous corporate behavior investigation involving recalls of several models dating back to the 2011 model year.
Kia was to pay $27 million and invest $16 million in safety performance measures. Another payment of $27 million will be deferred as long as Kia meets safety conditions, NHTSA said.
Kia denied the US allegations, but said it wanted to avoid a lengthy legal battle.
Data collected by the Center for Auto Safety shows more than 30 fire- and engine-related recalls in the U.S. from Hyundai and Kia since 2015. The recalls affect more than 20 models from model years 2006 through 2021, totaling more than 8, 4 million vehicles.
Many of the recalls were for manufacturing defects that prevented oil from flowing into the engine block. Many involved expensive engine replacements.
Hyundai and Kia have also launched a “product improvement campaign” in the United States covering 3.7 million vehicles to install software that will alert drivers to possible engine failures.