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Kia, Hyundai models recalled due to fire risk; separate concerns about security flaws persist

Major Kia, Hyundai recall due to fire risk
Major Kia, Hyundai recall due to fire risk 02:38

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Millions of Kia and Hyundai vehicles were recalled Wednesday over concerns they could catch on fire while parked or while being driven.

Hyundai warned drivers to park their cars outside until they can get the necessary repairs.

As CBS 2's Tara Molina reported, this recall comes as CBS 2 continues to track rising thefts of those same vehicles due to security flaws. Molina took the issues straight to the companies.

Hyundai models being recalled include sedans such as the Accent, Azera, Elantra, Genesis Coupe and Sonata along with the Tuscon SUV. Recalled Kia models include its Optima and Soul sedans and Sportage SUV. The affected vehicles are from the model years 2010 to 2019.

The recall affects a combined 3.37 million vehicles in the United States.

The antilock brake system in the vehicle could leak brake fluid and create an electrical short which could then increase the risk of an engine compartment fire, federal safety officials said. The automakers said an O-ring in the antilock brake motor shaft can lose sealing strength over time due to the presence of moisture, dirt, and dissolved metals in the brake fluid, causing leaks. 

Owners of these car models should park the vehicle outside and away from homes and buildings until repairs can be made, according to the recall announcement from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Spokespeople for both carmakers said there have been no crashes, injuries, or deaths, but a number of cars have caught on fire.

Hyundai reported 21 fires in the affected vehicles in the U.S., and another 22 "thermal incidents" including smoke, burning and melting of parts, according to recall documents. Kia reported 10 fires and melting incidents.

The recall was announced as we continue tracking targeted thefts of Kia and Hyundai vehicles due to security flaws – specifically no engine immobilizer having been installed in certain models.

Both companies have rolled out software updates addressing the theft issue – something we have shown you firsthand on CBS 2.

But we've also told you about concerns the Kia software doesn't work for everyone eligible for it - requiring another software update.

A spokesperson told us more than 760,000 cars have been updated so far. And they've distributed more than 280,000 steering wheel locks.

We reached the Illinois Attorney General's Office about this latest recall.

The National Highway Traffic safety Administration notice on the Kia and Hyundai recall can be found here.

Kia's statement on the recall is below.

Kia also provided this statement on its security software update:

"Kia continues to take comprehensive action to support our customers in response to this situation that has been created by criminals using methods of theft promoted and popularized on social media to steal or attempt to steal certain vehicle models. 

"We're continuing to strongly encourage eligible customers to have the software upgrade that we developed and rolled out earlier this year installed. The upgrade is designed to restrict the operation of the vehicle's ignition system should a potential criminal attempt to steal a locked vehicle without the key, and we remain confident that this upgrade further enhances the vehicle's security once it is installed. To date, more than 760,000 vehicles nationwide have received the upgrade and Kia continues to spread awareness about its availability by establishing a dedicated website with detailed information, hosting off-site events in multiple cities to make it easier for eligible customers to have the upgrade installed, and partnering with Carfax to inform owners that their vehicle is eligible for the upgrade. 

"We also continue to provide steering wheel locks to owners of impacted vehicles that are not eligible for the software upgrade at no cost to them. These free steering wheel locks further enhance the vehicle's security and can serve as a theft-deterrent for potential car thieves. Kia customers can obtain free, Kia-provided locks through their local law enforcement or they can request a steering wheel lock from Kia directly through the dedicated website. To date, we have distributed more than 280,000 locks and we will continue to provide them as they are needed. Earlier this year, we also announced an agreement that will allow customers who have been impacted by vehicle thefts to receive additional benefits and we're hopeful that the individuals who have been affected will soon be able to access these benefits. 

"For customers whose vehicles have been damaged by criminals as part of a theft or attempted theft, Kia has updated our system so they are given top priority for the expedited distribution of needed parts. In addition, we have also increased our ordering above demand to drive a sufficient parts supply and we are working directly with the relevant suppliers to facilitate the necessary flow of parts most-needed for customers whose vehicles have been damaged by car thieves.

"Kia is actively working cooperatively with law enforcement agencies across the country to combat car theft and the role social media has played in encouraging it, and we remain committed to supporting our customers and to vehicle security."

Hyundai released this statement on the recall:

"To ensure the safety of its customers, Hyundai Motor North America is initiating a safety recall to address a condition involving the Anti-Lock Brake System ("ABS") modules in certain Hyundai vehicles produced for sale in the U.S. and Canadian markets. The recall population includes approximately 1,642,551 vehicles in the U.S. and 326,942 in CanadaThere are no crashes, injuries, or fatalities attributable to this condition.

"The subject vehicles are equipped with Anti-Lock Brake System ("ABS") modules that could leak brake fluid internally and cause an electrical short over time. An electrical short could result in significant overcurrent in the ABS module increasing the risk of an engine compartment fire while parked or driving.

"Owners can continue driving these vehicles; however, Hyundai recommends parking the vehicles outside and away from structures until the recall remedy is completed. Hyundai plans to notify owners to bring their vehicles to the nearest Hyundai dealership for replacement of the ABS module fuse. This remedy will be offered at no cost to all affected customers. In the meantime, customers can input their vehicle identification number (VIN) at or to determine if their vehicle is impacted."

Hyundai also released this statement on the security update.

"Hyundai is committed to the comprehensive actions we are undertaking to assist customers and communities affected by the persistent theft of certain vehicles not equipped with push-button ignitions and engine immobilizers.  Our dealers across the country are maximizing the number of anti-theft software installations that can be performed on a daily basis, contributing to steadily increasing completion rates, which we report to NHTSA weekly.  Hyundai recently piloted mobile service centers in Washington, D.C. (Link), St. Louis County, MO (Link) and plans to replicate in additional markets through year-end to further scale and speed installation of the software upgrade.  We remain committed to ensuring the quality and integrity of our products, all of which are fully compliant with federal anti-theft requirements.  Engine immobilizers are now standard on all Hyundai vehicles produced as of November 2021. For more information, please visit"

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