Hyundai and Kia are recalling more than 570,000 vehicles, warning the owners to park their vehicles outside, due to a potential fire risk.
The problem is tied to tow hitch harnesses on the vehicles. Kia dealt with a similar issue last year, and accounts for less than 4,000 of the vehicles in the current action. The affected vehicles include: 2019-23 Hyundai Santa Fe, 2021-23 Hyundai Santa Fe hybrid, 2022-23 Hyundai Santa Fe PHEV, 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz, and the 2022-23 Kia Carnival minivan.
The problem stems from the printed circuit board in the trailer tow hitch harness module, according the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Safety Recall Report. The unit may be susceptible “to water inflow” through the 4-pin trailer tow hitch harness wiring connector, resulting in an electrical short circuit.
“An electrical short circuit could increase the risk of a tow hitch harness module fire while driving or while the vehicle is parked with the ignition off.”
As part of the recall action, owners are being told to park their vehicles outside and away from any structures, just in case of a fire. No fires have yet been reported for Kia vehicles; however, one fire and five “thermal incidents”have been for Hyundai vehicles, according to the automakers and NHTSA. Hyundai dealers will remove the fuse for the module as well for owners in advance of the repair.
Hyundai and Kia will notify owners of the affected vehicles by first-class mail with instructions to bring the vehicle a dealer. The dealer will “inspect and verify” to ensure the vehicle is equipped with the trailer tow hitch assembly. If yes, then the dealer will install an updated fuse and wire extension kit.
The two automakers will reimburse owners for repair expenses already incurred pursuant to Kia’s General Reimbursement Plan filed May 10, 2022. Hyundai’s plan was submitted Feb. 24, 2022.
Kia dealers have been advised not to sell the subject tow hitch harness and to return any unsold harnesses to Kia America. Dealers will begin getting notified May 11 with owners to begin receiving communications May 16.
Additionally, to identify all vehicles equipped with potentially affected tow hitch harnesses, all applicable vehicles produced from start of production (SOP) through March 13 for sale in the U.S. are expected to be involved in this recall.