Hyundai Motor Group Is on Fire: Kia Recalls Optima, Sorento Models

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
hyundai motor group is on fire kia recalls optima sorento models

Despite Kia’s obvious efforts to transform its lineup into a slew of handsome models offering more of what drivers want, it continues to have trouble with some of them catching fire. That’s likely going to be a deal-breaker for many shoppers, especially with the latest recall suggesting flames could spring up after vehicles have been turned off.

Hyundai Motor Group (which owns Kia) is requesting 440,370 examples of the Optima and Sorento be returned to dealers over a potential brake fluid leak that may damage the hydraulic electronic control unit (HECU) and start a fire. The notice comes just weeks after Hyundai asked to see 125,800 automobiles (Kona, Veloster, Elantra) and Kia wanted to check on 147,000 (Seltos, Soul) models for the same issue.

The problem is a familiar one, with control units drenched in brake fluid throwing sparks around the engine compartment until something catches. Kia has stated that it’s not aware of any fires related to the issue, though it’s still recommending owners park their vehicles outside and keep them a healthy distance away from anything they don’t want to see burned to a crisp.

What should you be on the lookout for? Horrible burning smells and smoke emanating from beneath your hood are probably decent indicators that something might be wrong. But Hyundai/Kia have also suggested that an ABS warning light might be a sign that you’re in for trouble. For now, the problem is only supposed to affect 2013-2015 model year Kia Optima sedans and 2014-2015 Sorento crossovers.

Customers will be encouraged to bring their vehicles in for inspection starting July 2nd, though we probably wouldn’t blame you for calling ahead of the official notice. Dealerships have been informed to check to see if there are any errant brake fluids and replace the HECU if so. Otherwise, your car will simply be equipped with new fuses designed not to throw sparks everywhere when covered with any number of liquids — should that happen later.

As always, the repair bill will be footed by the manufacturer. Kia said it would also reimburse any owner that took care of the problem themselves.

[Image: Kia Motors]

Matt Posky
Matt Posky

Consumer advocate tracking industry trends, regulation, and the bitter-sweet nature of modern automotive tech. Research focused and gut driven.

More by Matt Posky

Join the conversation
5 of 8 comments
  • ToolGuy ToolGuy on May 19, 2021

    Fire and opposable thumbs are two of the few advantages I have in life. Let's keep them.

  • Redapple Redapple on May 19, 2021

    H K are crap. redapple example 23 My brother reports. his 2015 Sonata. 35,000 miles. Disintegrating key fob - rubber panels. Chrome rubbing off dash trim. Chrome on door panel deliminating. Rear wheel hub. grind / clunk. Replacement completed. Trunk release button on trunk. Disintegrated. No spare tire. Not even a donut. wait 1.5 hr for tow truck. Others report seats in a 5 yr old car look like a 10 year old car. Now Fires. Brutal. Just Brutal. No sale. Period

    • See 2 previous
    • Dantes_inferno Dantes_inferno on May 20, 2021

      @tonycd >“The cost savings have to come from somewhere.” R&D, materials, assembly, quality control are a few things that come to mind...

  • ToolGuy "Mr. President, no government agency, no think tank, and no polling firm knows more about the automobile customer than us. We talk to customers every day. As retail automotive dealerships, we are agnostic as to what we sell. Our business is to provide customers with vehicles that meet the needs of their budgets and lifestyles.”• How many lies can you fit into one paragraph?
  • Spamvw Three on the tree, even Generation X would have a hard time stealing one of those.
  • ToolGuy This trend of cyan wheels needs to end NOW.
  • Kwik_Shift Interesting nugget(s) of EV follies.
  • SaulTigh I've said it before and I'll say it again...if you really cared about the environment you'd be encouraging everyone to drive a standard hybrid. Mature and reliable technology that uses less resources yet can still be conveniently driven cross country and use existing infrastructure.These young people have no concept of how far we've come. Cars were dirty, stinking things when I was a kid. They've never been cleaner. You hardly ever see a car smoking out the tail pipe or smell it running rich these days, even the most clapped out 20 year old POS. Hybrids are even cleaner.