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The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently acknowledged Kia Motors America’s notification of a safety recall that affects nearly 229,000 vehicles. At issue is the Anti-Lock Brake (ABS) module, which may cause an engine fire.

Kia will notify owners of the recall beginning on April 10, 2020.

Kia Vehicles at Risk of Engine Fires Even When Turned Off

According to the safety recall report, Kia notified the NHTSA of the issue on February 14, 2020. The issue affects certain 2006-2010 Sedona and 2007-2009 Sorento vehicles. According to the company, moisture can enter the Hydraulic Electronic Control Unit (HECU)—which controls the ABS module—and result in an electrical short. That short could cause an engine compartment fire.

The HECU remains energized even when the engine is off and the vehicle is parked. That means the engine could catch fire even when the vehicle is sitting in the garage, increasing the risk of injury to drivers, passengers, and nearby individuals, as well as potentially causing property damage. Kia doesn’t yet know how moisture may enter the HECU. No injuries have been reported in relation to the recall, but Kia is aware of two Sedona and five Sorento vehicle fires.

Kia suggests owners park their cars away from the property (and not in garages) until the repairs are completed, to reduce the risk of property damage or injury. Owners should also be alert to any signs of an engine fire, including a burning smell or smoke coming from the engine.

Kia will notify owners between April 10 and April 13, 2020, via mail with instructions to bring their vehicles to a Kia dealer for repairs. Dealers will install a relay in the vehicle’s main junction box which will prevent power from being directed to the HECU when the vehicle’s ignition switch is turned off. Kia will perform this repair free of charge and will reimburse owners for any expenses already incurred.

Owners can contact Kia customer service at 1-800-333-4542, and ask for information on recall SC186. Owners may also contact the NHTSA’s Vehicle Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236, or go to

NHTSA Investigates Kia and Hyundai Engine Fires

Kia has had several problems with their vehicles catching fire over the past few years. After reviewing more than 3,000 reports of fires not associated with crashes, the NHTSA opened an investigation into both Kia and Hyundai in 2019 to determine why so many of their vehicles had potentially defective engines that could catch fire. Of those 3,000 reports, 103 involved injuries and one involved a death.

Vehicles involved in the investigation included:

  • 2010-2015 Kia Soul
  • 2011-2014 Hyundai Sonata, Sonata hybrid, and Santa Fe; Kia Optima, Optima hybrid, and Sorento
  • 2013-2014 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport

Nearly 3 million of these vehicles in the U.S. are potentially at risk for engine fires.

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