Kia, Hyundai SUVs should park outdoors over fire risk: Watchdog

South Korean carmakers have recalled thousands of Hyundai Palisade and Kia Telluride vehicles over trailer hitch issue.

The 2020 Hyundai Palisade during the Hyundai press conference at the Los Angeles Auto Show in Los Angeles, California, US.
Owners of some Hyundai and Kia SUVs have been advised to park them outdoors due to fire risk [File: Kyle Grillot/Reuters]

Owners of some Hyundai and Kia SUVs that were recently recalled over fire risks should park them outdoors and away from homes until they are repaired, the United States Department of Transportation has said.

The South Korean automakers last week recalled thousands of Hyundai Palisade and Kia Telluride vehicles made from 2020 to 2022, citing a risk of fire while parked or driving due to a trailer hitch issue, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s website showed.

A repair for the issue has not been identified, and no related fires, crashes or injuries have been confirmed, the department said in a consumer alert.

However, Kia said in a statement on Tuesday that six fires had been reported in model year 2020 Telluride vehicles, five of which involved “localized melting only”. The 2021 or 2022 models had no fires and were included in the recall as a precautionary measure, it added.

Kia said it would reimburse owners for repair costs already incurred.

The Transportation Department did not respond to a request for comment on the apparent discrepancy with Kia regarding fires.

“An accessory tow hitch sold through dealerships may allow moisture into the harness module, causing a short circuit,” the consumer alert said. “In some cases, an electrical short can cause a vehicle fire while driving or while parked and turned off.”

A Hyundai spokesperson later said there have been three confirmed Palisade fire incidents in Canada, but none in the US. The automaker is aware of eight related “melting” incidents in the US and eight in Canada, the spokesperson added, with no crashes or injuries.

Once a repair is available, affected vehicle owners will be notified to bring their SUVs to a Hyundai or Kia dealer, the alert said.

The recalls involved 245,030 Hyundai Palisade and 36,417 Kia Telluride vehicles, the consumer alert added.

Source: Reuters