The 2014 Kia Forte is presented at the 2012 Los Angeles Auto Show in Los Angeles
FILE PHOTO: The 2014 Kia Forte is presented at the 2012 Los Angeles Auto Show in Los Angeles, California November 28, 2012. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

December 5, 2020

By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Kia Motors Corp said on Saturday it is recalling 295,000 U.S. vehicles for engine fire risks.

The Korean automaker said the recall covers some 2012-2013 model year Sorento, 2012-2015 Forte and Forte Koup, 2011-2013 Optima Hybrid, 2014-2015 Soul, and 2012 Sportage vehicles because an engine compartment fire can occur while driving.

Dealers will inspect the engine compartment for fuel or oil leaks, perform an engine test and make any repairs including engine replacement, as necessary. Kia said it is currently developing a Knock Sensor Detection System software update.

Last week, Kia and affiliate Hyundai Motor Co agreed to a record $210 million civil penalty after U.S. auto safety regulators said they failed to recall 1.6 million vehicles for engine issues in a timely fashion.

The Korean automakers agreed to consent orders after the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said the automakers inaccurately reported some information to the agency regarding the recalls.

Kia’s civil penalty totaled $70 million, including an upfront payment of $27 million, requirements to spend $16 million on specified safety measures, and a potential $27 million deferred penalty.

The settlement covers recalls in 2015 and 2017 for manufacturing issues that could lead to bearing wear and engine failure.

In the new Kia engine recall, NHTSA opened an investigation in 2019 into non-crash fires in Kia and Hyundai vehicles. The agency in July recommended Kia conduct recalls on certain models with a higher fire complaint rate, the automaker said.

Kia said “based on NHTSA’s recommendation” it had made the “decision to recall certain Kia vehicles as a preventative measure to mitigate any potential fire risk.”

Hyundai on Friday recalled 129,000 U.S. vehicles because connecting rod bearings may wear prematurely, which over time can result in engine damage and increase fire risks.

(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Chris Reese)

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