Kia Motors America and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently announced the recall of nearly 295,000 vehicles in the United States due to a problem that could lead to engine-compartment fires. The recall comes approximately one week after NHTSA announced that Kia and its parent company, Hyundai Motor America, must pay $137 million in fines and safety improvements because they allegedly moved too slowly to recall over one million vehicles with engines that can fail. The fines resolve a three-year government probe into the companies’ behavior involving recalls of multiple models dating to the 2011 model year.
Affected vehicles covered by the recent recall include certain SUVs such as the 2012 Sportage, 2012 and 2013 Sorento, and 2014 and 2015 Soul, along with 2012 to 2015 Forte and Forte Koup cars, and 2011 through 2013 Optima Hybrid cars. According to the safety recall report, only a small percentage of models being recalled have experienced engine fires. However, at this time, no manufacturing or design defect has been identified. Kia is recalling affected vehicles as a preventative measure to mitigate any unreasonable fire risk due to potential fuel leaking, oil leaking, or engine damage. NHTSA has instructed owners of potentially affected Kia models to be alert for engine noise, illumination of the check-engine or low-oil light, fuel smell, burning smell, oil smell, or smoke. Kia will notify owners starting on January 27, 2021. Dealers will inspect the engine compartments of affected vehicles, make repairs, and potentially replace engines.