Fire Threat Causes Major Kia Recall – Again!

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IRVINE, Calif. – Kia Motors America (KMA) is again recalling a total of 440,370 model year 2013-2015 Optima sedans and 2014-2015 Sorento sport utility vehicles (SUV) because of a potential for them to catch on fire due to a short in the anti-lock braking system (ABS) control unit.

These same vehicles were recalled last summer by KMA for the same issue, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Part 573 Safety Recall Report 20V-519. In addition, the same issue has plagued and caused recalls by KMA and its parent Hyundai of a variety of Hyundai sedans and SUVs in the United States as well as markets around the world.

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The root of the issue is leaking brake fluid within the electronic control unit (ECU) of the vehicle’s anti-lock braking system (ABS). Corrosion of seals within the ECU is what can lead to the leak, which might result in an electrical short potentially triggering an engine-compartment fire.

The federal agency presented three symptoms an owner might experience indicating the problem:

  1. Smoke from the engine compartment
  2. Burning/melting odor
  3. Illumination of the malfunction indicator light and/or ABS light

The latest recall reflects a revised remedy for vehicle owners.

The new repair, according to NHTSA, “The internal valve seals of the remedy ABS module are improved and should prevent internal leaking of brake fluid to the Electronic Control Unit (ECU). The remedy ABS multi-fuse is rated at a lower amperage to effectively limit the operating current of the ABS module Owners are being informed they can drive these vehicles prior to having the ABS module replaced, but when parking them, they should be away from structures and not in a garage.”

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According to NHTSA, Kia has not had reports of any fires while the vehicles were being driven.

Dealers are scheduled to be contacted about the recall beginning June 28th; owners July 2nd.

Mike Geylin
Mike Geylin

Mike Geylin is the Editor-in-Chief at Hagman Media. Geylin has been in automotive communications for five decades working in all aspects of the industry from OEM to supplier to motorsports as well as reporting for both newspapers and magazines on the industry.