Kia Recalls 72K Sportages Over “Thermal Events” — A Snazzy Way Of Saying “Fire”

Image courtesy of (Van Swearington)

Blaze, inferno, and conflagration are all words that can be use interchangeably with “fire.” But, as referenced in Kia’s latest recall, the carmaker has its own term to describe the incident you never want to happen to your vehicle — “thermal event.”

It’s for this fiery reason that the car manufacturer has recalled 71,704 model year 2008 and 2009 Sportage vehicles.

According to a notice [PDF] posted with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the SUVs contain a wire harness covering the Hydraulic Electronic Unit (HECU) that may be improperly sealed allowing water to get on the circuit board.

If the water is contaminated with salt — perhaps from the mixture used on icy roads — the wire harness connector pins can corrode and the circuit board may short.

This, Kia says increases the risk of a thermal event, such as an engine compartment fire.

The issue first came to light in April, when Kia received a report of an engine fire in a 2008 Sportage parked in the driveway.

While Kia didn’t specify how many thermal events it has connected to the issue, a look at NHTSA’s database lists several fires related to Sportage vehicles’ electrical systems.

In one complaint submitted in 2013, the owner of a model year 2009 Sportage says the vehicle caught fire without warning.

The owner of another 2009 Sportage reported to that their vehicle caught fire about an hour after it was driven. In that case the fire originated in the front engine compartment.

Kia says it will notify owners of affected vehicles later this month. Dealers will inspect the connector pins for corrosion, if the issue is found, they will replace the HECU assembly and connector cover.

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