Hyundai and its sister company, Kia, are asking owners of more than 571,000 SUVs and minivans to park their vehicles outside because of a fire risk associated with a towing hitch part.
A recall has been issued to allow dealerships to fix the fault, which can see the towing hitches short circuit and cause fires under certain conditions. According to Kelley Blue Book, the following vehicles are included in this recall: 2019-2023 Hyundai Santa Fe; 2021-2023 Hyundai Santa Fe Hybrid; 2022-2023 Hyundai Santa Fe Plug-in Hybrid; 2022-2023 Hyundai Santa Cruz; and the 2022-2023 Kia Carnival.
Details of the Hyundai and Kia Fire Risk Recall
So far, Hyundai says it is aware of one fire and five heat damage incidents related to the problem. Kia has not received reports of damage. But, since the same part is available for the Carnival, the company wants to inspect Carnival models out of an abundance of caution. Under federal law, recall repairs must be performed at no cost to consumers.
The company said in documents filed with the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) that water could get into the wiring harness for the tow hitch and cause a short circuit. That could ignite materials in the harness and lead to a fire while driving or when the vehicle is parked with the ignition turned off.
The tow hitch involved in this recall was not factory-installed, but available through dealerships and authorized third-party retailers. This means that factory records do not cover which vehicles have tow hitches. Therefore, the companies are recalling all vehicles produced from the start of production (SOP) through March 13, 2023. This is the latest step in expanding the Hyundai/Kia tow hitch recall.
The companies asked Hyundai Palisade and Kia Telluride owners to park outside last summer for this same issue. When dealers inspect the recalled vehicles, they will check for the presence of a tow hitch. If they find one, they will remove the fuse that powers it, which will eliminate the drivers’ ability to tow a trailer safely, but also remove the fire risk.
The company will later replace the wiring with a better-sealed harness. Last year Hyundai recalled more than 245,000 2020 through 2022 Palisade SUVs for a similar problem. NHTSA said that the latest recall is the direct result of the agency monitoring the Palisade recall from last year.
Vehicle Fire Statistics
According to Statista.com, there were around 174,000 highway vehicle fires reported in the United States in 2021. This is a slight increase from the previous year when there were 173,000 highway vehicle fires reported across the country.
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) says the leading causes of vehicle fires were mechanical failures or malfunctions and electrical failures or malfunctions. Older vehicles accounted for three-quarters of highway vehicle fires caused by such failures or malfunctions. Collisions were the leading cause of vehicle fires that resulted in fatalities.
Is It Safe to Drive a Recalled Vehicle?
Unless the recall notice specifically states that it is unsafe to drive your car, it is fine to continue to drive your car. However, it is important that you schedule the recall repair as soon as possible with the dealership. There is no good reason not to do so. All recall repairs must be done at no cost to consumers, under federal law.
In the case of this fire risk recall, Hyundai and Kia have warned drivers to park the recalled vehicles away from structures so they don’t pose a danger to property and lives. In some rare cases, such as in a recall involving vehicles with faulty brakes, an automaker may issue what is known as a “do not drive” warning. If you have been told not to drive your car, it is best to refrain from driving, especially if there is a serious safety issue that could put your life or the lives of your loved ones in danger.
If there is no specific warning, you can still drive if necessary, but it is important that you get your vehicle fixed as soon as possible. Many problems that lead to a safety recall end up having symptoms. It is good to know these telltale signs so you can make an informed decision. Automakers may also flag specific instances where it is unsafe to drive a recalled vehicle or recommend that you avoid certain activities, such as using a particular feature that may put occupants at risk.
If You Have Been Injured
If you or a loved one has been injured as the result of a defective vehicle, it is important that you contact an experienced lawyer with a top track record in auto defect lawsuits to explore your legal rights and options.
Injured victims may be able to seek compensation for damages such as medical expenses, lost income, hospitalization, cost of rehabilitation, pain and suffering, and emotional distress. A knowledgeable attorney will be able to retain experts who can examine your vehicle for evidence of design defects, malfunctions, or defects, and put you in the best position to receive the maximum possible compensation.