KIA Motors Warns Thousands Of SUVs Are Fire Risks, Issues Recall

Kia Motors has issued a sizeable recall of vehicles that have been found to possess a fire risk.

Announced on Tuesday via the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the recall includes roughly 70,000 of Kia’s Sportage and Sorento models of SUVs. The affected cars, according to the recall notice, possess a tow hitch defect that can result in the part catching fire.

The recall encompasses standard Sorentos with model years between 2016 and 2022, Sorento Hybrids from 2021-2023, Sorento Plug-in Hybrids from 2022-2023, and Kia Sportages from 2017-2022. The company estimates that within these ranges, 1 percent possess the defect that prompted the recall.

The affected Kia models have tow-hitch harnesses built-in or ones that can be purchased as an additional accessory. Some of these harnesses have a defect that causes debris or moisture to build up inside their circuit boards, which can lead to fire caused by the board short-circuiting. The board is part of a system in the hitch that allows an attached trailer to display brake lights at the same time that the SUV does.

Above, a shot of a Kia logo on a Sorento SUV. Around 70,000 Sorento and Sportage SUV models have been recalled due to a potential fire risk.
Mark Ralston/AFP via Getty Images

“The recall population was determined by a review of vehicle production and part
sales records,” the recall notice stated. “A total of 22,052 of the subject vehicles are equipped with a tow hitch harness as a port-installed option (PIO). Based on parts sales data, a total of 48,835 tow hitch harnesses were sold to Kia dealers for potential installation as a dealer installed option (DIO). The vehicles subject to this recall were not produced in VIN order.”

In the recall notice, Kia confirmed that the tow hitch defect has been linked to three fires in Sorento models, as well as 30 “localized melting incidents” across the range of affected vehicles. No accidents, deaths, or injuries have been linked to the defect at this time.

Kia has advised owners of the affected vehicles to park the cars outside until such a time as a fix for the issue has been devised. The company said that a fix is being worked on and that consumers should receive an update by November 14-18. In the meantime, Kia dealers have been instructed to stop selling the harness add-ons. In its report, Motor Trend noted that worried owners can contact their dealer and have them check if the recalled part was installed on their vehicle, though this method will not be applicable for everyone.

This latest recall follows another one from August from Kia which revolved around the same tow hitch harness defect, USA Today reported. This earlier recall impacted an estimated 36,000 Kia Telluride SUVs. The issue also affected a number of vehicles from a different company, with Hyundai recalling around 245,000 Palisade SUVs.

Newsweek reached out to Kia Motors for comment.

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