Hyundai and Kia are recalling more than half a million SUVs, pickup trucks, and minivans because of a defective tow harness that could catch fire while the vehicles are being driven or parked. The action is just the latest in a series of fire-related recalls announced by the South Korean automakers in recent years.
The Killino Firm’s Auto Defect Injury Lawyers have successfully represented clients harmed by defective vehicles and components. If you were injured or lost a loved one due to a Kia or Hyundai vehicle fire, please call our law firm toll-free at 877-875-2927 to speak with an attorney and learn more about your legal rights.
Recalled Hyundai and Kia Vehicles Should be Parked Outside
This new recall involves around 571,000 SUVs, trucks, and minivans, including:
- 2019 through 2023 Hyundai Santa FeSUV
- 2021 through 2023 Hyundai Santa Fe HybridSUV
- 2022 through 2023 Hyundai Santa Fe Plug-in Hybrid SUV
- 2022 through 2023 Hyundai Santa Cruzpickup truck
- 2023 Kia Carnivalminivans for a similar issue.
According to documents posted online by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), a defective wiring module in the trailer tow hitch module could allow water to leak in and cause a short circuit, potentially triggering a fire. Only vehicles equipped with a tow hitch harness installed as original equipment or purchased as an accessory through a dealership are included in the recall.
Hyundai has received reports of one fire and five heat damage incidents with no injuries. Kia has no reports of fires or injuries.
Owners will begin receiving official notifications on May 16th. The vehicles will need to be taken to a dealer to have the fuse and tow hitch computer module removed. Once a fix is available, dealers will install a new fuse and wire extension with an improved connector that is waterproof.
Owners should park the vehicles outside and away from structures until the needed repairs are made.
Kia and Hyundai Have Recalled Millions of Fire-Prone Vehicles
Over the past 12 years, Hyundai and Kia have recalled over 7 million vehicles because of defects that could cause a fire.
Hyundai’s recalls have included the Accent, Azera, Elantra, Genesis, Ioniq, Kona, Palisade, Santa Cruz, Santa Fe, Santa Fe Sport, Santa Fe XL, Sonata, Tucson, and Veloster. Kia has recalled the Cadenza, Carnival, Forte, K5, K900, Niro, Optima, Seltos, Sedona, Soul, Sorento, Spectra, Sportage, Stinger, Telluride, and the Genesis G70, G80, and GV80. Some models have even been subject to more than one recall.
According to Consumer Reports, more than 60 individual Hyundai and Kia recalls were related to engine fires, including many that involved one of three specific engines: Theta II, Nu GDI, and Gamma GDI. Several involved a faulty component in the antilock braking system (ABS) known as the hydraulic electronic control unit (HECU, shown below), while others were related to brake fluid leaks, faulty oil pans, fuel leaks, oil leaks, and ABS sensor problems.
Hyundai and Kia Fires Implicated in 1 Death, 100+ Injuries
According to the NHTSA, more than 3,100 Hyundai and Kia vehicles have caught fire since 2010, injuring 103 people and killing one. In 2018, a study conducted by the Highway Loss Data Institute found that some Hyundai and Kia models were more than twice as likely to be associated with non-crash-related fire insurance claims than similar vehicles manufactured by other companies.
While Hyundai and Kia are separate brands, the Hyundai Motor Company is the largest shareholder in Kia Motors. Their vehicles share many of the same parts from the same suppliers, including some that have been involved in fire-related recalls.
The NHTSA has been investigating Hyundai and Kia fires since 2019.
In 2020, the regulator fined the companies a total of $210 million for failing to recall vehicles in a timely manner. The following year, the whistleblower who provided the NHTSA with information that led to those penalties was awarded $24 million, the first whistleblower reward in the agency’s history.
What Should Owners of Recalled Hyundai and Kia Vehicles Do?
To determine if your vehicle is included in one of these recalls, visit nhtsa.gov/recall and enter the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). The vehicle will appear in the search results if its subject to an open recall; a red box will also appear at the top of the page if the vehicle is fire-prone or unsafe to drive.
If you discover that your car is recalled, contact your local dealership as soon as possible to arrange a free repair. If the recall is fire-related, keep it parked outdoors and away from structures while waiting for the fix.
If your vehicle catches fire while you’re driving:
- Pull over as soon as possible and shut the car off.
- Get yourself and all passengers out of the vehicle immediately.
- Stay at least 100 feet away from the car, upwind, if possible, to avoid any toxic fumes.
- Never stand on an active roadway. If you’re parked on the side of the road, stay far behind the vehicle to avoid being hit if another car strikes your vehicle.
- Call 911 or ask another motorist to do so.
- Don’t attempt to put the fire out unless you can do so from outside the car, have an appropriate fire extinguisher (approved for Class A or Class B fires), know how to use it correctly, and can maintain a safe distance away from the vehicle.
- Don’t open the hood or trunk, as the additional airflow could feed the fire.
Our Defective Product Lawyers have helped many victims of recalled vehicles and automotive components obtain compensation for their medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other associated damages. If you or a loved one were hurt in a Hyundai or Kia vehicle fire and would like to speak with an experienced attorney, please do not hesitate to contact the Killino Law Firm at 1-877-875-2927.