Kia and Hyundai have recalled nearly 600,000 vehicles, after identifying a defect in the braking control module, which may cause an electrical short that poses a risk of a fluid leak and engine fire hazard.
The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced the Kia and Hyundai Santa Fe, Kia Optima and Kia Sorento recalls on August 27, following at least 23 reported fires occurring in the engine compartments of vehicles equipped with similar anti-lock brakes hydraulic control units.
According to the recalls, the recalled Kia and Hyundai models are equipped with a similar hydraulic electronic control unit (HECU) supplied by Mando America Corporation. Recall documents indicate brake fluid can leak inside a hydraulic control unit for the anti-lock brakes, possibly causing an electrical short that can lead to fires.
The recall includes 151,205 model year 2013 through 2015 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport vehicles and 440,370 model year 2013 Kia Optima and 2014 through 15 Kia Sorento models.
While no injuries have been reported, Hyundai stated it has become aware of 15 fires and Kia has become aware of eight fires related to the defect.
Customers should be alert for certain indicators that a brake fluid leak is occurring, which may include smoke coming from the engine compartment, a burning or melting odor, or an illumination of the check engine light or ABS warning light on the dashboard cluster.
Hyundai and Kia both announced customers will be notified of the recall with information on how to schedule a free repair appointment at their local dealer, where dealers will be instructed to inspect the ABS and HECU modules and replace it if necessary.
Owners are being asked to contact either Kia customer service at 1-800-333-4542 and reference the recall number SC197, and Hyundai customers may contact 1-855-371-9460 and reference the recall number 194.
While Kia and Hyundai are separate brands, they share the same parent company, commonly resulting in similar designs, engineering and part suppliers to overlap.
The two automakers have been under investigation by the NHTSA since early 2019, due to potential problems with approximately three million Kia and Hyundai vehicles, which have been linked to thousands of non-collision car fires, including several injuries and at least one fatality.
The investigation was opened when the Center for Auto Safety, a consumer vehicle safety watchdog, presented more than 3,000 customer reports of fires, along with a petition to investigate what is believed to faulty oil pans, catalytic converters, fuel leaks, oil leaks, and engine issues causing the fires.
The investigation includes the 2011 through 2014 Kia Optima, Optima Hybrid and Sorento models, 2010 through 2015 Kia Soul vehicles, 2014 through 2015 Kia Soul EV models, 2011 through 2014 Hyundai Sonata and Santa Fe models, 2013 through 2014 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport, and 2011 through 2014 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid vehicles.