As of December 6, 2020, nearly 300,000 Kia vehicles have been recalled over an increased risk of engine compartment fire. While the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has not yet determined the root cause of the issue, Kia dealerships have been asked to check the recalled vehicles for any indications of fuel or engine oil leaks, even replacing the engine at no cost if necessary.
Identifying and Describing the Engine Defect
According to the official safety recall report, Kia Motors Company is issuing this recall as a precautionary measure, hoping to “mitigate any unreasonable fire risk due to potential fuel leaking, oil leaking and/or engine damage.” While the manufacturer acknowledges that a small number of the affected vehicles have experienced an engine compartment fire, no manufacturing or design defect has been located. The recall report notes that potential warning signs of an engine compartment fire include engine noise, the illumination of the check engine light or low oil light, a burning smell or the smell of fuel, the presence of smoke, or leaking oil.
Kia Vehicle Models Impacted by the Recall
So far, the NHTSA has included several Kia models in the recall. This list includes the following years and models with the 2.4-liter Theta II engine:
- 2011-2013 Kia Optima Hybrid
- 2012 Kia Sportage
- 2012-2013 Kia Sorento
- 2012-2013 Kia Forte and Forte Koup
Additionally, certain Kia vehicles with the 2.0 liter Nu engine have also been affected by the recall. These include:
- 2014-2015 Kia Forte
- 2014-2015 Kia Forte Koup
- 2014-2015 Kia Soul
Steps That Affected Kia Customers Can Take
Kia intends to start notifying affected customers about the recall on January 27, 2021. Consumers will be asked to bring their Kia vehicles to the dealership so that their engine compartments can be inspected for signs of oil leakage or other signs of engine troubles. The dealer will make the necessary repairs or perform a complete engine replacement if needed. Additionally, Kia plans to provide a software update that will include a Knock Sensor Detection System, and the company will offer a 15 year or 150,000 mile warranty covering any engine repairs that may be due to “connecting-rod bearing damage.” If a consumer has already spent money on repair expenses related to this defect, Kia will provide reimbursement.
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