Kia Motors America is recalling 71,704 Sportage crossovers in the U.S. because an electronic control unit can short circuit and lead to a fire. According to a news report, the affected crossovers are from the 2008 and 2009 model years and were assembled between August 9, 2007 and May 13, 2009. The cover on the Sportage’s braking control unit might not be sealed properly. Should the water be mixed with road salt, as could be the case with melted snow, a wire harness connector could corrode, potentially leading to a short circuit and fire.
The automaker recommends the customer park their vehicles outdoors and away from other vehicles and structures until the recall repair has been performed. Kia will start notifying affected owners on November 28. The automaker said in a statement that dealers would replace the control unit assembly if it is determined that corrosion had occurred. Otherwise, it will replace the unit’s cover. The company estimates that about 1 percent of the recalled crossovers might have this defect.
Kia started looking into the problem in April after it received a report of an engine fire in a parked 2008 Sportage, according to documents filed with the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The company said it is so far aware of nine customer complaints relating to “thermal events,” even though it is unaware of any accident or injuries concerning the defect. The faulty part in question was manufactured by South Korean supplier Mando Corp., which ranks 45th on Automotive News’s list of top 100 global parts suppliers. It’s not clear if vehicles outside the U.S. are also being recalled.
Auto Product Liability Issues
Vehicles with fire hazards have the potential to cause severe burn injuries. Those who have been injured as the result of a vehicle defect have legal rights. They could file a product liability claim against the automaker and/or parts suppliers who may be involved. In order to prove a product liability claim, plaintiffs must provide evidence that shows that the product was defective and that the defective product caused their injuries, damages and losses. Injured victims in such cases would be well advised to retain the services of an auto defect law firm that has the resources to financially pursue large automakers and corporations.