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Kia Recalls Nearly 71k Tow Hitch Harnesses Over Fire Risk, Owners Should Park Outside

On April 20th, the Safety Office within Kia North America reviewed the field data associated with a tow hitch harness to identify potential allegations of thermal events following escalation of a similar issue affecting the highly popular Telluride. In the first instance, Kia identified several alleged tow hitch harness-related incidents involving the Sorento.
Kia Sorento 30 photos
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The following day, the South Korean automaker placed the trailer harness accessory on automatic warranty part return. From April 27th to May 9th, the company met with Mobis Parts America, the supplier of the harness, to review a harness from a ’16 Sorento that had experienced a thermal event.

The issue was escalated to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration the following month. With the help of a third-party engineering firm, Kia decides to further investigate this rather uncanny problem.

On July 20th, a technical service bulletin was issued, requiring the use of a 15-amp fuse when installing the genuine accessory. Mobis then conducts a CT scan of a tow hitch harness module sourced from a Sorento, identifying origin damage on the printed circuit board. Come September 6th, the unnamed third-party engineering firm conducts different scans, eventually discovering chloride contamination on the circuit boards of returned parts.

On September 7th, Kia was aware of three confirmed vehicle fires and 30 localized melting incidents. All of them involved the 2016 to 2020 model year Sorento mid-size utility vehicle, with receipts dating from August 2015 through August 2022. The supplier then informs Kia that the very same tow hitch harness module is used in the 2021 to 2023 model year Sorento and the 2017 to 2022 model year Sportage compact SUV. On September 9th, Kia becomes aware of two thermal events involving ’21 and ’22 Sorentos.

No injuries or crashes were reported, but nevertheless, Kia couldn’t ignore this problem any longer. The South Korean automaker decided to recall no fewer than 70,887 tow hitch harness accessories supplied by Mobis Parts America, split between 48,835 units that were sold to dealers and 22,052 units that were fitted to the '16 to '23 Sorento and '17 to '22 Sportage.

The remedy is under evaluation at press time, which is why “customers who own a subject vehicle with a tow hitch harness are advised to park their vehicle outside and away from structures until the repair is conducted.”

 Download attachment: Kia tow hitch harness fire recall (PDF)

 
 
 
 
 

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