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December 1, 2016

Sportage SUV Bursts into Flames; Kia Recalls 71,704 Vehicles

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Kia Sportage Bursts into Flames; 70,000+ SUVs Recalled

This past April a 2008 Kia Sportage SUV, parked in a private driveway, burst into flames. Luckily no one was harmed, but the incident prompted the Kia Motor Corporation to open an investigation that led to an announcement last week; the second largest automaker in South Korea is recalling 71,704 Sportage SUVs in the U.S. (there were no recalls made internationally). The vehicles in question were manufactured between August 2007 and May 2008.

The good news is that Kia has identified the cause of the fires. Analysts have traced the sparks to a defective cover meant to protect the brake control motherboard from the elements. The part is made by the Mando Corporation, a South Korean equipment company that supplies the likes of GM, Ford, VW, Nissan, Hyundai and others. In colder climates this means that salt from the road can leak onto the circuit board and rust out the unit, which is what allegedly caused the flames.

Earlier this year 98,000 of Kia’s Sedona minivans were also recalled over salt water that caused those vehicle’s suspension to corrode. A Kia spokesperson said that the company believes only 717 of the 71,704 most recently recalled Sportage SUVs will turn out to have the problem, but they are not taking any chances and are recalling every vehicle that has the potential to catch fire. At the time of the recall the automaker received nine reports of alleged “thermal events,” as Kia has labeled the string of fires—but no injuries or accidents have been announced, so far.

Last year in July it was 2011 Kia Sportage SUVs being recalled. The 2011 Sportage didn’t spontaneously combust, but more than 7,000 were recalled because of a brake related issue. In those vehicles the lights did not always illuminate when the driver hits the brakes. That issue was resolved with the installation of a new stop lamp switch. In 2014 Kia recalled nearly 6,000 more Sportage SUVs in the UK, assembled from October 2011 to November 2012, over faulty seatbelts.

Authorities are now warning 2008 and 2009 Sportage model owners to not park their vehicle in a garage or in close proximity to another vehicle. Kia said owners of affected Sportage SUVs will be contacted before the end of the year and should bring their vehicle to a dealer who will replace any rusted components and install a new cover to prevent future leaks free of charge.

To see if your Kia is affected by any recall please visit: https://vinrcl.safercar.gov/vin/