Kia announced the recall of vehicles already recalled for leaking brake fluid that increased the chance of engine fires, but the company says this time the fix will include enhanced safety measures. The recall affects 283,803 Kia Optima mid-size sedans and 156,567 Kia Sorento mid-size SUV from the 2013-2015 model year, the NHTSA disclosed Monday.
Certain vehicles manufactured from July 2013 to October 2015 at Kia's manufacturing facility in West Point, Ga., have brake fluid that can leak inside the hydraulic electronic control unit (HECU). Over time, the leak can cause a short circuit, which increases the risk of an engine compartment fire while parked or driving, Kia explained to the NHTSA. Owners may notice a burning smell or smoke coming from the engine, as well as a light warning in the instrument cluster for the anti-lock braking system.
Kia recommends owners park the affected vehicles outdoors and away from other vehicles or structures until the recall repair is completed. The initial recall announced in September 2020 arose from fire complaints by six Optima owners and two Sorento owners, though Kia said there were no fatalities, injuries or crashes. Hyundai recalled the 2013-2015 Santa Fe Sport for the same issue. Kia installed a new HECU with a lower amperage rating as part of the original recall number 20V519.
After the completion of that recall, one dealer reported further problems in another Optima, prompting Kia to reassess the original fix. The new fix will replace the HECU and swap out a 40-amp fuse for a 30-amp fuse to "prevent an over-current condition in HECU's electrical circuit board" and mitigate the risk of fires from short circuits.
Kia will reimburse any owners who paid for the fix, and the recall work will be completed free of charge. Owners can expect notices as early as July 2. Visit Kia's recall website for more info, or call Kia customer service at 1-800-333-4542. The new recall number is 21V-331.