The Korean automakers issued recalls for three different models of SUVs, including more than 300,000 Kia Souls released between 2012 and 2016 with 1.6-liter engines, according to new documents posted online by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
The Center for Auto Safety has reported 40 unexplained Kia Soul fires so far, including a 2017 fatal fire in Ohio.
Keith Nash, 48, burned to death inside his mother’s 2014 Kia Soul in apartment complex parking lot just outside of Cincinnati.
Jason Levine of the Center for Auto Safety, which petitioned federal regulators last summer to investigate fires in the Kia Soul, said the recalls should have happened earlier.
“It is an acknowledgment by Kia, which just a few months ago was saying they could not find anything wrong with the Kia Soul,” said Levine.
Kia said it is recalling the Kia Soul over a defect with the catalytic converter, which could cause a fire.
The recall also includes 2011 and 2012 Kia Sportage models and 2011 to 2013 Hyundai Tuscon SUVs – both cited for oil pan leaks that could start a fire.
The I-Team has exposed hundreds of Kia and Hyundai vehicle fires since last year, including some caused by fuel leaks resulting from faulty engine recall work. So far, the automakers have not admitted the defects and leaks have caused any vehicle fires.
The car companies previously announced a January recall on more than 165,000 cars for fire hazards, which included Kia Optima, Kia Sorento and Kia Sportage models as well as Hyundai Sonata and Hyundai Santa Fe vehicles.
That recall involved high-pressure fuel pumps installed improperly during engine recall replacements. The resulting fuel pump leaks are a fire hazard.
Thursday’s announcement brings the recall total to nearly 700,000 Kia and Hyundai vehicles so far this year.
Full statement from Kia Motors America on 2012-2016 Kia Soul recall:
“Kia Motors America (KMA) is voluntarily recalling all Soul vehicles manufactured from July 8, 2011 to August 11, 2016 equipped with 1.6L Gasoline Direct Injection (GDI) engines. The catalytic converter in the recalled vehicles may be susceptible to damage due to overheating caused by an excessive increase of exhaust gas temperatures. If the catalytic converter is damaged, substrate particles can enter the engine combustion chamber and cause abnormal engine combustion. Continuous abnormal engine combustion can result in damage to one or more of the engine’s pistons, which can cause piston rod breakage, potentially puncturing the engine block and allow engine oil to escape. Engine oil that contacts a hot surface may result in a fire. A fire increases the risk of injury. KMA is not aware of any reported accidents or injuries as a result of this issue.
All owners of the subject vehicles will be notified via first-class mail with instructions to bring their vehicle to the nearest Kia dealership. Dealers will be instructed to upgrade the Catalytic Overheating Protection Engine Control Unit logic to prevent overheating of the catalytic converter. The catalytic converter will be inspected and replaced if it is damaged. Depending on the extent of any damage, the engine may also be replaced. Kia will reimburse owners for repair expenses already incurred pursuant to Kia’s General Reimbursement Plan filed April 10, 2018. Customers with questions may contact KMA consumer assistance at 1-800-333-4542 or their Kia dealer.”
Full statement from Kia Motors America on 2011-2012 Kia Sportage recall:
“Kia Motors America (KMA) is voluntarily recalling certain 2011-2012 Sportage vehicles equipped with 2.4L engines supplied by HMC Ulsan plant, produced from June 11, 2010 to February 13, 2012. The oil pan may have been improperly sealed during engine production. As a result, engine oil may leak from the oil pan. If the vehicle is driven with an unrepaired oil leak, damage to the engine can occur and the vehicle could stall while in motion. An engine stall at higher speeds can increase the risk of a crash and, in limited cases, a fire can occur. A vehicle fire increases the risk of injury. KMA is not aware of any accidents or injuries as a result of this issue.
Warning signs of a possible oil leak include: (a) Existence of oil on ground surfaces after vehicle is parked; (b) Existence of oil on underbody surfaces; (c) Illumination of the “Check Engine” and/or oil pressure warning lamps; (d) Smell and/or smoke associated with oil on hot surfaces; and/or (e) Reduced power and/or hesitation.
KMA is currently waiting for HMC’s analysis and identification of the applicable remedy for this issue. Once the remedy has been established, all owners of the subject vehicles will be notified via first-class mail with instructions. Customers with questions may contact KMA consumer assistance at 1-800-333-4542 or their Kia dealer.”
Full statement from Hyundai Motor America on 2011-2013 Hyundai Tucson recall:
“To ensure the safety and security of its customers, and in close coordination with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Hyundai is voluntarily recalling approximately 123,500 2011-2013 Hyundai Tucson vehicles equipped with 2.4-liter engines. The recall is being conducted to address a potential manufacturing problem that can result in an engine oil leak and potentially lead to engine failure and stalling, and in limited cases a fire. Hyundai is not aware of any accidents or injuries caused by this issue.
Potential oil leaks are the result of a manufacturing issue with the oil pan liquid sealing process. While the remedy for this recall is under final development, Hyundai will inspect the affected engines for leaking oil and listen for a knocking sound that can indicate bearing wear caused by insufficient oil lubrication. If leaking oil is observed, Hyundai will replace the oil gasket. If engine damage caused by bearing wear is detected, Hyundai will replace the engine. All repairs will be performed at no cost to owners.”