Hyundai and Kia Warn SUV Owners of Fire “Don’t Park In/Near Buildings”

Both Hyundai and Kia just announced a recall for over 450,000 SUVs over fire risks in the engine compartment. Some sedans are also part of the recall effort. But the troubling warning does not comfort owners of their new SUVs. A warning not to park their vehicles outside until repairs can be made has also been issued.

Both companies have had issues with fires and engine failures over the last six years at least. And there have been dozens of recalls, as well. So, unfortunately, this follows in line with recent recall activity for Kia and Hyundai. 

Which Hyundai and Kia models are affected?

2015 Kia Sportage
2015 Kia Sportage | Getty

The recall affects a range of models. They include 126,747 Kias, made up of some K99 sedans, and all Sportage SUVs built between 2014 and 2016. This affects a total of 357,830 Hyundai vehicles. They include the Santa Fe Sport from 2017 and 2018, Santa Fe XL made in 2019, and 2014-2015 Tucson SUVs. 

The issue in Hyundai models is with the antilock brake controller module. It is prone to overheat, which can lead to a fire under the hood. This was first reported in 2020 with a Canadian Hyundai Tucson, which prompted an investigation. The owner of a US Santa Fe Sport reported a similar issue in July 2021.

How many fires have there been?

2017 Hyundai Santa Fe
2017 Hyundai Santa Fe | Getty

A total of 11 fires have been reported since those first two incidents. While investigating the incidents, Hyundai found that the module can experience an internal micro leak “caused by contaminants in the valve body.” 

But there has been an ongoing National Highway Traffic Safety Administration investigation which was started in 2017. After 161 complaints were reported to the NHTSA over engine fires, an engineering analysis for 2011 to 2016 models began. 

Some fires happened in Kia and Hyundai models already recalled before

2018 Hyundai Santa Fe
2018 Hyundai Santa Fe | Getty

Some of these fires happened in Hyundai and Kia models already sent in after earlier recalls. Since the middle of 2015, both automakers have recalled vehicles covering a range of engine issues, according to the NHTSA. 

There are warning signs for drivers that the module is overheating. The antilock brake warning light may come on. They could also possibly smell something burning, or see smoke coming from the engine compartment. 

In a statement, Hyundai said that when a safety defect  is found “we act swiftly and efficiently to recall the vehicle and fix the problem at no cost to affected customers.” Hyundai and Kia dealers will replace the ABS fuse, and if damaged, the ABS module will too. 

Is this over the same engine fire recalls as in the past?

2015 Hyundai Tucson
2015 Hyundai Tucson | Getty

Both manufacturers have added engine monitoring technology and applied extended warranties to affected models. “Although NHTSA has the authority to order a recall and potentially a buyback of all affected vehicles, the separate fire defects that have plagued millions of Hyundai vehicles across multiple model years makes this a very difficult task,” Michael Brooks told ABC News. He is the chief counsel for the Center for Auto Safety. He also said that this particular recall is unrelated to other engine failure issues. 

Since 2015, the Center has counted over 30 recalls related to engine failures and fires. The recalls have affected over eight million vehicles. These two automakers have also installed software to alert drivers of engine failures in what Hyundai called a “Product Improvement Campaign.”

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