After Discovery of Critical Flaw, Car Manufacturer Issues Warning to 380,000 Vehicle Owners: Park Outside


If you’re one of 380,000 Kia owners, you might want to park your car outside — or bring it to the dealership as soon as possible.

According to The Associated Press, the issue concerns 2017 through 2021 Sportage SUVs and 2017 through 2019 Cadenza sedans.

The manufacturer is recalling the vehicles over a fault that could cause a fire in the engine compartment.

The issue concerns the hydraulic electronic brake-control unit. One of the controllers can develop a short circuit that causes an excessive current that can cause a fire.

Owners of the recalled cars will start getting notifications on April 30 to come in and get the affected parts replaced, according to The AP. When you bring the car in, service will consist of replacing “fuses in the electrical junction box.”

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Several things to know if you’re a Kia owner.

First, if you have Kia’s Smart Cruise Control system, you’re safe; it apparently uses a different controller. Second, if there are issues with your system, there potentially will be warning signs.

Documents on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website say that if you notice “illumination of various warning lights on instrument panel including tire pressure warning light, ABS warning light, MIL [check engine/malfunction] warning light, burning/melting odor, smoke from engine compartment,” your Sportage or Cadenza might be experiencing an issue related to the controller.

Now, granted, if you’re smelling a burning and/or melting odor or you’ve got smoke coming out of the hood of your car, I hope you aren’t just parking it in the garage thinking that fresh air might be problematic.

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However, the situation is dire enough that if you’re experiencing warning signs, you shouldn’t be parking your car in your garage, period.

“Kia recommends that before owners are able to get the affected part replaced, they should park their vehicles outside and away from structures,” Car and Driver reports.

The good news is that no fires have been reported from the fault. The bad news is, this is an ongoing problem for the Korean automaker.

Car and Driver noted that “the potential for fires has become a common reason Kia and Hyundai vehicles have been recalled.

“In the fall of last year, Hyundai and Kia recalled 591,000 vehicles for a brake-fluid leak which could result in a fire. And earlier in the 2020, Hyundai recalled 430,000 Elantra sedans for the potential of water entering the ABS module and starting a fire.”

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The current investigation into Kia and Hyundai engine fires was launched in 2019 after a complaint from the consumer group Center for Auto Safety. At the time, there were reports of over 3,100 fires in cars by the Korean automakers, which had resulted in 103 injuries and one death.

However, this is hardly the beginning of their problems. According to The AP, 6 million Kia and Hyundai vehicles have been affected with engine failure and fire problems since 2015, per National Highway Traffic Safety Administration documents.

As a result of the 2019 investigation, meanwhile, the NHTSA found there were nearly 3 million Kias and Hyundais with potential engine problems.

That investigation included, according to Car and Driver, “the 2010–2015 Kia Soul; 2011–2014 Hyundai Sonata, Sonata hybrid, and Santa Fe; Kia Optima, Optima hybrid, and Sorento; and 2013–2014 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport.”

In short, this is not a new thing. Kia/Hyundai recalls in 2015 and 2017 affected 1.6 million cars — and surprisingly, for different reasons.

“Many of these engines, known as Theta II, have improperly machined crankshafts and crankpins that can leave metal shavings within the crankshaft oil passages,” Car and Driver reported.

“They can become blocked, cause the connecting rod bearings to wear, and then seize the engine.”

This isn’t as scary as a car that, if you park it in your garage, can engulf your entire house in fire. So, what to do, aside from parking the vehicles away from structures?

Granted, there have been no reported fires yet, but there certainly is a history — and parking your Kia Sportage or Cadenza away from your house for a few months sounds like a very good idea.

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Morristown, New Jersey
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture