Korean automakers Hyundai and Kia have recently advised almost 485,000 car owners in the US to park their cars outside their homes due to potential fire risks. The fault in the vehicles was announced by the U.S.'s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
The advisory states that the vehicles can catch on fire even if the engine is turned off. As per both car brands (owned by the Hyundai Motor Group), the select models of cars should be parked away from other vehicles or building structures to prevent any potential damage.
According to Kia's legal documents to NHTSA, the car manufacturers are aware of eleven vehicles catching on fire. However, no injuries or fatalities have yet been reported. As per CNN, Kia has recalled around 126,747 cars, while Hyundai has recalled 357,830 affected vehicles.
What causes the fire hazard in the concerned Kia and Hyundai models?
NHTSA documents stated that Kia's 2014-2016 Sportage, 2016-2018 K900, and Hyundai's 2016-2018 Santa Fe and 2014-2015 Tucson models are affected. As per the recall campaign's legal documents from both automakers, the Hydraulic Electronic Control Unit (HECU) and the Anti-Lock Brake System (ABS) modules could malfunction.
Due to the reported presence of foreign particles in the modules, an electrical short can occur, igniting a fire in the engine compartment of the vehicles. The NHTSA notice states:
"...the owner should park their vehicle outdoors until the recall repair is completed."
Vehicle owners can also check if their respective vehicles from Hyundai and Kia are being recalled from the NHTSA website's Recalls section. The automakers will also send emails for further instructions regarding the repair of these modules to eliminate the risk within the next two months.
As per Kia, the customer can detect the fault if the ABS warning light turns on or the car smells burnt around the engine compartment. The electrical short may also occur while driving, significantly increasing the risk of accidents, injuries, or even fatalities.
The carmakers' solution to the issue
Both of these Korean automakers have faced this issue with vehicles catching on fire since 2016. The firms have announced free repairs and replacements of the affected modules at their dealerships across the country.
As per their documents to NHTSA, the brands' dealers will inspect the faulty modules, replace the ABS multi-fuse, and install a new fuse for the HECU circuit board. Customers will have to coordinate with the dealership or the support team at the respective firms to schedule their free repair.