Kia recalls over 200,000 SUVs and vans for electrical problems that can cause fires

/ AP

Kia is joining its affiliate Hyundai in recalling thousands of SUVs and minivans in the U.S. because water can get into a brake computer, cause an electrical short and possibly a fire.

The Kia recall covers nearly 229,000 Sedona minivans from the 2006 through 2010 model years. Also covered are Sorento SUVs from 2007 through 2009. Kia is telling owners to park their vehicles outside and away from structures and other vehicles until the problem can be fixed.

The company says in documents posted Thursday by the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that moisture can get into the antilock brake control computer and cause an electrical short and possible fires. Kia has reports of seven fires, but no injuries. The problem can happen even if the engine is turned off.

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The recall is another in a series of problems that the South Korean automakers have had with engine fires during the past few years. Past problems have triggered investigations by the U.S. road safety agency.

Recall fix

Dealers will install a relay in the main electrical junction box to stop power from going to the brake computer when the engine is off. The recall is expected to start April 10.

Earlier this month, Hyundai recalled nearly 430,000 small cars due to the same problem. That recall covered certain 2006 through 2011 Elantra and 2007 through 2011 Elantra Touring vehicles.

Both companies said the rate of fires is low, but Hyundai is not recommending that the cars be parked outside.

Hyundai said in documents that it has three reports of fires and no related injuries.

Last April, NHTSA opened two new investigations into fires involving Hyundai and Kia vehicles after getting complaints of more than 3,100 fires and 103 injuries.

The agency granted a petition seeking the investigations by the nonprofit Center for Auto Safety, a consumer advocacy group.

Investigations

The investigations, one for Hyundai and the other for Kia, cover noncrash fires in almost 3 million vehicles from the affiliated automakers. The probes cover the 2011 through 2014 Hyundai Sonata and Santa Fe, the 2011 through 2014 Kia Optima and Sorento, and the 2010 through 2015 Kia Soul. The complaints came from consumers and from data provided by both automakers.

NHTSA had previously said it would incorporate the noncrash fires into a 2017 investigation that examined recalls of Hyundai and Kia vehicles for engine failures. It opened the new probes "based on the agency's analysis of information received from multiple manufacturers, consumer complaints and other sources."

Engine failure and fire problems with Hyundais and Kias have affected more than 6 million vehicles since 2015, according to NHTSA documents. So far, Hyundai and Kia have recalled about 2.4 million vehicles to fix problems that can cause fires and engine failures.

In addition, the automakers are doing a "product improvement campaign" covering another 3.7 million vehicles to install software that will alert drivers of possible engine failures and send the cars into a reduced-speed "limp" mode if problems are detected.

First published on February 21, 2020 / 10:03 AM

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