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Kia recalls 71,000 SUVs over fire risk, tells owners to park outside

The automaker and its parent, Hyundai, had recalled nearly 1 million vehicles since 2020 over similar wiring defects

(David Zalubowski/AP)

A previous version of this article included the incorrect phone number for Kia customer support. It is 800-333-4542. The article has been corrected.

Kia is recalling 71,000 older-model Kia SUVs because they are at risk of fire, whether they are running or not.

The owners of 2008 and 2009 Kia Sportages should park outdoors and away from other structures or vehicles until a defect in the engine’s wiring has been repaired, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration advised.

The South Korean automaker and its parent company, Hyundai, have recalled nearly 1 million vehicles since 2020 because of related issues tied to corrosion around the anti-lock braking system.

A permanent remedy for the problem, which also prompted a 2016 recall for the same group of Sportages, has not yet been developed. Vehicle owners should contact Kia’s customer service line at 800-333-4542 to coordinate repairs and reference recall number SC253. Repairs will be completed at no charge.

The company did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

In 2016, Kia safety officers found corrosion on wiring in the Sportage’s hydraulic electronic control unit (HECU), a major component of the anti-lock braking system. That breakdown, combined with moisture from improper sealing around the device, can cause the wiring to short and spark a fire.

At the time, Kia dealers were instructed to inspect vehicles for corrosion and replace certain parts to mitigate the fire risk. But in subsequent years, HECU defects have been identified in other models from Kia and Hyundai.

In 2020, Hyundai and Kia paid a $210 million civil penalty after federal regulators said they delayed recalling vehicles with engine problems.

In 2021, they recalled 440,000 vehicles because of HECU-related engine fire worries. In February, they recalled an additional 484,000 vehicles over similar problems.

Kia officials in September identified 15 vehicles experiencing “potential thermal damage” that had previously been fixed in the 2016 recall, federal authorities said Wednesday.

Owners of damaged vehicles reported that their car’s anti-lock braking system warning light illuminated before a fire occurred.