Kia recalls nearly 300,000 vehicles due to engine fire risk

Photo (c) thamyrissalgueiro - Getty Images

The recall covers a consistent problem that the automaker has faced in recent years

Kia is recalling about 295,000 of its vehicles due to the risk of engine-compartment fires. 

As mentioned in ConsumerAffairs’ recall notice covering this issue, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said the engines in a small number of the models set to be recalled in January have caught fire. However, the issue hasn’t been linked to any specific design or manufacturing flaw.

The automaker said it’s recalling the vehicles "as a preventative measure to mitigate any unreasonable fire risk due to potential fuel leaking, oil leaking and/or engine damage.” 

The recall is expected to go into effect on January 27, 2021. At that time, Kia will start notifying owners and dealers will start offering free repairs and vehicle inspections. In the meantime, owners of potentially affected Kia models should be alert for "engine noise, illumination of check-engine light [or] low-oil light, fuel smell, burning smell, oil leaking, smoke,” the NHTSA said.

Kia said it’s developing a Knock Sensor Detection System software update to boost safety. The automaker will also provide 15-year/150,000-mile warranty coverage for engine repairs needed "due to connecting-rod bearing damage," according to the NHTSA. 

The company said owners will be reimbursed for any money they have already spent on repairs related to the problem.

Not the first fire-related recall

This isn’t the first time Kia has recalled vehicles due to fire risk. In February, the automaker issued a recall for more than 200,000 vehicles because of a problem with the brake computers in two models. At the time, Kia said the brake computer issue could lead to the vehicle catching fire. 

In September, the company issued another recall of a similar nature. Kia said nearly 600,000 additional vehicles were at risk of catching fire due to a defect involving brake fluid leakage. 

Kia owners started reporting sudden vehicle fires around four years ago. Some drivers said they had to jump out quickly before their vehicle exploded. In another instance, a Kia owner died after being trapped inside a vehicle that exploded. 

In 2019, the Center for Auto Safety called on Congress to investigate the issue. In a letter to lawmakers, the group criticized the company’s handling of the issue.  

“Instead of presenting the public a solution for these fires, or a satisfactory explanation, or simply taking responsibility for continuing to sell what appear to be defective engines, both manufacturers have recalled fewer than 10% of the potential fire prone vehicles and hoped no one would ask about the rest,” the organization said at the time.

The group said last year that a total of 2.9 million Hyundai and Kia vehicles need to be recalled in order to sufficiently address the problem. It regularly updates a page that includes more information about this issue here.

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