DETROIT (AP) — Hyundai and Kia are telling the owners of more than 571,000 SUVs and minivans in the U.S. to park them outdoors because the tow hitch harnesses can catch fire while they are parked or being driven.
The affiliated Korean automakers are recalling the vehicles and warning people to park them away from structures until repairs are made.
Affected Hyundai vehicles include the 2019 to 2023 Santa Fe, the 2021 to 2023 Santa Fe Hybrid, the 2022 and 2023 Santa Fe Plug-in hybrid and the 2022 and 2023 Santa Cruz. The only Kia affected is the Carnival minivan from 2022 and 2023. All have Hyundai or Kia tow hitch harnesses that came as original equipment or were installed by dealers.
The Korean automakers say in documents posted Thursday by U.S. safety regulators that water can get into a circuit board on the hitches and cause a short circuit even if the ignitions are off.
Hyundai has reports of one fire and five heat damage incidents with no injuries. Kia has no reports of fires or injuries.
Dealers at first will remove the fuse and tow hitch computer module until a fix is available. Later they will install a new fuse and wire extension with an improved connector that's waterproof. Owners will be notified starting May 16.
Last year Hyundai recalled more than 245,000 2020 through 2022 Palisade SUVs for a similar problem.
Milwaukee sues Kia and Hyundai over stolen cars, attorney gives more details
By Mary Jo Ola, Mar 22, 2023
The City of Milwaukee is suing automakers Kia and Hyundai over the surge in car thefts. Late Wednesday evening, the city filed a federal lawsuit accusing the companies of having a design flaw in their cars, making them easy to steal. The two brands make up more than half of all stolen vehicles in the city. Kia and Hyundai tell TMJ4 News they have taken steps to curb thefts, including offering software upgrades and free steering wheel locks.
During a news conference outside of the federal courthouse, Milwaukee's city attorney Tearman Spencer was frank that this lawsuit has been a long time coming.
Spencer described Milwaukee is the epicenter of the car thefts targeting Kia and Hyundais across the country. The city hopes to be used as a bellwether or named as a primary plaintiff in a multidistrict litigation or MDL, which could give Milwaukee an edge when it comes to a settlement.
Since the Common Council approved a resolution on Tuesday, Spencer's office will retain outside counsel more experienced and with the capacity to lead what's expected to be a pricey lawsuit to recover damages that the city has incurred due to these thefts.
Spencer said they have decided to move forward with Keller Rohrback LLP out of Seattle. Deputy city attorney Robin Pederson added that the law firm has partnered with MWH Law Group locally.
"It is my hope that we’re not only curb the thefts, but that the city of Milwaukee recovers some of the damages for police, fire, DPW, and any other costs that we’ve had to occur as a result of the negligence of Kia and Hyundai," Alderwoman Milele Coggs said.
Spencer was asked about the drivers who had their cars stolen.
Spencer said during the news conference, "This is an endeavor for municipal loss of the city. We all live here in the city I hope, and we do our business here. The damages that have occurred from a municipal perspective is what we are seeking retribution for. The consumer actions are a whole totally different matter."
Spencer did not have a dollar amount that the city is seeking, but said that number is constantly being calculated.
The city's push to sue Kia and Hyundai comes on the heels of Wisconsin's Attorney General announcing a coalition of AGs pushing the manufacturers to do more to deter the thefts.
"The city definitely deserves those damages back. It's a big issue that Kia Hyundai might've been able to prevent," Jose Ramos said.
Ramos lives in Milwaukee and said his Kia was stolen on January 1, 2023 near the busy area of St. Paul Avenue and Broadway in the city's Third Ward.
Ramos supports the lawsuit but questioned if it make a difference and stop thieves.
"I think any kind of amount going back to the city is helpful because the the city can use that for more important things that would benefit everyone living in it," Ramos said.
Wendy Sneed had her Hyundai Tucson stolen outside of a hotel while visiting Milwaukee in December. She did not mind hearing the lawsuit is aimed to recoup the city's losses.
"It does bring more awareness. I would like to see the two companies bear some responsibility. I think they should. It's crazy the epidemic going on," Sneed said.