DeKalb County

Georgians driving 2 popular SUV models could see their cars go up in flames

CHAMBLEE, Ga. — The Department of Transportation says two popular SUV models may pose a fire risk. This is just the latest, in a series of Channel 2 Action News investigations into auto fire risks.

Channel 2′s Sophia Choi learned what you should do to protect yourself.

Park your car outside, and away from your home and any other buildings. That’s the advice from the federal government while a fix is being developed.

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The two models involved in this latest recall from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are Hyundai Palisades models from 2020-2022, and Kia Tellurides. This includes 281,000 popular SUVs.

The issue is with a tow hitch, an option you can get through your dealer.

“The big difference with this recall is that it involves an electrical component, versus the larger recall (which) involved engines that failed that caused fire,” Michael Brooks with the Center for Auto Safety said.

The danger is even leading to a stoppage in sales of the two models at dealerships in Chamblee.


This latest alert pushes the number of Kia recalls to nearly 8.5 million, due to fire risks caused by everything from metal shavings in engine oil to problems with leaks in the anti-lock braking system modules.

Many of them are made right here in Georgia, at the West Point plant.

Channel 2 Action News started covering the issues with Kia models back in 2018. We first showed you a 2012 Kia Sorrento on fire and also a 2015 Kia Soul on fire in Texas.

Channel 2 Action News also spoke with the family of Jordan Carlton, who rented a 2019 Kia Soul model that wasn’t on previous recall lists. He died after their rental car caught on fire.

In the latest recall, NHTSA says fires can happen even when the SUVs are parked and turned off. That’s why it recommends parking outside and away from buildings.

In this consumer alert, NHTSA says:

“An accessory tow hitch sold through dealerships may allow moisture into the harness module, causing a short circuit. In some cases, an electrical short can cause a vehicle fire while driving or while parked and turned off.”

“This is happening in the electrical system, while the car is not in operation,” Brooks said.

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The government is now requiring dealers to inspect the module and remove the fuse as an interim repair. When a permanent fix is ready, owners will get a notification by mail.

“It’s a wiring harness with a circuit board in them that gets contaminated. They’re not sure if it’s humidity or dirt or what yet. They’re still developing this recall, so it may be a few months before we see a resolution,” Brooks said.

According to the Center for Auto Safety, people in Canada reported fires, and in the U.S. some owners reported melting wires involving these two now-recalled SUVs.

NTHSA says so far it has no confirmed fires related to this issue in the U.S.

The Center for Auto Safety says cars these days use a lot of new electrical technology, which could lead to even more fire issues.

Click here to find out if your vehicle is included in the recall.