DETROIT (AP) – For the second time this month, Hyundai is telling some SUV owners to park outside because a short in a computer in their cars could cause them to catch fire.
The Korean automaker is recalling about 180,000 Tucson SUVs in the United States of 2019-2021 models to fix the problem. The company says that corrosion can short-circuit faulty antilock brake chips that can cause a fire even if the engines are off.
Hyundai said Friday it knows of a dozen engine fires caused by the problem, but there were no injuries.
Additionally, Hyundai says that if the antilock brake warning light comes on, SUVs should not be driven and owners should disconnect the positive battery cable. They should contact a dealer who will provide a loaner vehicle if necessary.
Separately, Kia, which is affiliated with Hyundai, is recalling more than 9,000 Stinger sports cars with 3.3-liter turbocharged engines over a similar problem. Documents published by US safety regulators indicate that fires can occur in the area of the antilock brake control computer.
Kia said in a statement Friday that it has six reports of fires with no injuries. The company has no reports of fires after the engines are shut down, but still recommends that they park outside until repairs are made, “as a precaution,” the statement said. The cause of the fires is not yet known.
The recalls are the latest in a series of engine fire problems that have hit the two automakers and sparked investigations by the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Hyundai will notify owners of the recall by mail beginning October 30. In the meantime, owners can enter their 17-digit vehicle identification number at www.hyundaiusa.com/recalls to see if their Tucson is affected.
The automaker said it is investigating whether the same problem is occurring in other countries. On September 3, US safety regulators announced that Hyundai and Kia would recall more than 600,000 vehicles in the US and Canada to repair a brake fluid leak that could cause engine fires.
The recall is due to a possible leak in the brake fluid of some models of the brand.
Those recalls are not related to the Tuscon recall. They cover more than 440,000 Kia Optima midsize sedans from 2013 to 2015 and Kia Sorento SUVs from 2014 and 2015. Also covers 203,000 Hyundai Santa Fe SUVs from 2013 to 2015.
A day later, Hyundai said it recommended that vehicles be parked outdoors until the problem is fixed. Kia said Friday that Sorentos should park outside.
In February, Hyundai recalled about 430,000 small cars over a similar problem. The company said water can enter the antilock brake computer, causing a short circuit and possibly an engine fire. That recall covered certain Elantras from 2006 to 2011 and Elantra Touring from 2007 to 2011.
The company reported that the electrical short could cause a fire even when the cars are turned off. In April 2019, NHTSA opened two new fire investigations involving Hyundai and Kia vehicles after receiving complaints of more than 3,100 fires and 103 injuries.
The investigations, one for Hyundai and the other for Kia, cover fires without accidents in nearly 3 million vehicles from affiliated automakers. The agency granted a petition requesting investigations by the Center for Auto Safety, a nonprofit consumer advocacy group.
Jason Levine, executive director of the center, explained Friday that the recall shows that consumer complaints should be monitored and taken seriously by NHTSA and automakers.
“This recall of all-new models finally unravels the story that the Hyundais fire epidemic was only occurring in their older vehicles and they fixed the problem,” said Levine.
NHTSA had previously said it would incorporate non-accident fires into a 2017 investigation that examined recalls of Hyundai and Kia vehicles for engine failures. It opened the new investigations “based on the agency’s analysis of information received from multiple manufacturers, consumer complaints and other sources.”
Engine failure and fire problems with Hyundai and Kia have affected more than 6 million vehicles since 2015, according to NHTSA documents. Hyundai said in a statement that it recalled vehicles when a safety flaw was identified.
“We constantly evaluate data from a variety of sources and will not hesitate to conduct or extend a recall when we determine that it is necessary to protect the safety of our owners,” the company said.