The car company Kia has informed owners of almost 380,000 of its vehicles to park their cars outside due to the possibility that the engine could catch fire. It is currently recalling specific Sportage SUV models from 2017-2021 and Cadenza sedans from 2017-2019 in order to repair the issue.
According to the Associated Press, “The company says a short circuit in the hydraulic electronic brake control unit can cause excessive current, increasing the risk of a fire. Owners should also park them away from structures until repairs are made.”
Those who own the vehicles can look out for certain signs of danger before a fire starts in the engine. Warning lights such as the tire pressure light, anti-lock brake, or other system alerts could appear on the dashboard. There could also be a “burning or melting odor” for which owners should be on the lookout.
Kia will start informing owners of the vehicles about getting the issue fixed beginning on April 30. Dealerships are set to switch out the “fuses in the electrical junction box” in order to repair the cars and prevent fires.
The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issued documents on Tuesday wherein Kia stated that so far there have been no incidents or complaints about injuries, fires, or collisions because of the issue.
This is not the first time that the car company has dealt with issues of engine fires.
According to the AP, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration started investigating fires in Kia and Hyundai engines in 2019. “The agency opened the probe after the nonprofit Center for Auto Safety filed a petition seeking the investigation. When the inquiry began, the agency said it had owner complaints of more than 3,100 fires, 103 injuries and one death.”
In November, NHTSA stated that the two companies — Kia and Hyundai — have to pay out $137 million due to fines and to pay for safety improvements since the companies didn’t move quickly enough on recalling over 1 million vehicles that had engines that could break down. According to the AP, these “fines resolve a government probe into the companies’ behavior involving recalls of multiple models dating to the 2011 model year.”
Kia denied any fault in the accusations, but acknowledged that it wanted to stay away from an extensive legal battle.
The AP reported that “Engine failure and fire problems with Hyundais and Kias have affected more than 6 million vehicles since 2015, according to NHTSA documents.”
As reported by NPR at the time of the 2019 investigations, “According to the NHTSA, the investigations will ‘assess the scope, frequency, and potential safety-related consequences of alleged defects’ relating to ‘non-collision’ fires in the vehicles.”
The Center for Auto Safety was the group that petitioned for the investigation and initially requested that the NHTSA investigate the Optima, Sorento, Sonata and Santa Fe vehicles in June 2018. The next month, it included the Soul on the roll of vehicles causing problems. The center also requested that Congress look into the fires.
Jason Levine, executive director of the Center for Auto Safety, released a statement at the time. “It is long past time for the full power of the federal government to be brought to bear to answer why so many thousands of Kia and Hyundai vehicles have been involved in non-crash fires,” Levine said.
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