Kia Recall: More Than 71,000 2008-2009 Sportage Crossovers Pose a Fire Risk — Owners Urged to Park Outside

The automaker is working on a fix, but no solution is immediately available

2009 Kia Sportage
(Image: Kia)

Kia issued an urgent recall notice to the NHTSA concerning older Sportages at risk of catching fire.

The South Korean automaker notified the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) on October 24, and the safety agency just published recall information affecting 71,704 Sportage SUVs built for the 2008 and 2009 model years. According to the vehicle defect report, a fire may originate from the Hydraulic Electronic Control Unit (HECU). This problem stems from a replacement of a connector under an earlier recall and could happen while the car is moving.

Kia stated the cause of fire is currently unknown and is investigating the issue. For the time being, the company is urging owners to park their vehicles outside, away from structures. The earlier recall (16V815), initiated in November 2016, was also aimed at addressing the same issue with the HECU connector. Back then, Kia said that “the wiring harness cover on the HECU may be improperly sealed, allowing water to get onto the HECU circuit board.” The wiring harness pins can then corrode, and possibly short-circuit, causing a fire.

Owners may see an illuminated ABS warning light as the first sign that something’s wrong with their Sportage. More urgent warnings include a burning or melting smell, as well as smoke from the engine compartment. Kia says it is not aware of any accidents, injuries or fatalities related to the problem. However, according to the automaker’s safety office, there have been eight vehicle fires and 15 “localized melting/damage incidents” between April 3, 2017 and September 1, 2022.

A snapshot of the latest 2008-2009 Kia Sportage recall (Image: NHTSA).

The company will reimburse owners for prior repair expenses related to the issue

This Sportage recall affects cars built between August 9, 2007 and May 13, 2009. They were not produced in serial VIN order, so you will want to check Kia’s recall page with your specific VIN, or check with your dealer for more information.

Per the company’s General Reimbursement Plan filed in May 2022, the automaker will reimburse owners for prior repair expenses they made trying to correct the issue on their own. We’ll come back and post an update when Kia has developed a remedy to this problem. Notices will officially go out to dealers on December 19, and owners should receive notices by December 22, 2022.

Kia’s number for this recall is SC253. The NHTSA’s number, if you want to look up the campaign through their website, is 22V-800.

More information: NHTSA Recall Acknowledgement | Safety Recall Report | 2008-2009MY Kia Sportage Defect Chronology