Car accidents happen, but you can help yourself avoid them by driving slowly and safely, and you can increasing your chances or emerging unscathed from one by wearing a seatbelt. But what do you do when your car itself is the risk? Kia is recalling 380,000 vehicles concerns they can suffer random electrical fires, telling U.S. owners of the 2017 to 2019 Cadenza sedan and the 2017 to 2021 Sportage to leave their cars parked outside and far away from any structures, lest they spontaneously burst into flames.
The recall is the latest in a string of recent bad news for the Korean automaker. In 2019, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration launched an investigation into Kia and Hyundai, stemming from owner complaints concerning 3,100 fires, 103 injuries, and one death, according to CBS News. (According to Car and Driver, the fallout from that investigation resulted in the automaker being hit with a $210 million fine.)
Both Kia and Hyundai have been responsible for upwards of six million vehicle recalls worldwide since 2015, the Associated Press estimates (Kia is a subsidiary of Hyundai Motor Group), though that still doesn’t put them in the top five most-recalled car brands, according to a survey by ISeeCars.com.
Here’s what’s going on with the most recent recall, including what Kia owners should do if they’re included in this mess.
It’s an issue of short circuiting
The issue stems from both vehicles’ hydraulic electronic brake control unit, which can short circuit, sending stronger electric currents that it should, and increasing the risk of a fire. According to documents published by the NHTSA, owners are made aware of the issue by the “illumination of various warning lights on instrument panel including tire pressure warning light, ABS warning light, MIL warning light, burning/melting odor, [and] smoke from engine compartment.”
Owners will have to wait for repairs
None of the cars recalled are equipped with Kia’s Smart Cruise Control system. Kia says it will notify drivers if their vehicles have been affected by April 30, though that means scores of motorists will have to play a waiting game or risk the potential danger of driving their cars.
Though the possible risks are pretty serious, the problem can be mitigated via a fairly easy fix: Dealers will have to replace fuses in the vehicles’ electrical conjunction boxes. In the meantime, owners of either of these models manufactured within the given timeframe should keep their cars parked outside (and far away from any buildings or other vehicles if possible) to reduce the risk of a life-threatening fire.