Kia Optima Sedan and Sorento SUV Recalled Again for Fire Risk

These vehicles were recalled in 2020 for the same brake issue

A red 2014 Kia Optima driving down a road
2014 Kia Optima sedan

Kia is again recalling over 283,000 Optima sedans from the 2013 through 2015 model years and more than 156,000 Sorento SUVs from the 2014 and 2015 model years to fix a faulty part that may cause a fire. As with past recalls related to components causing fires, the automaker recommends that owners park their vehicles outdoors and away from structures until the problem can be fixed.

The issue is due to the potential of leaking brake fluid within the antilock brake system (ABS) module, which could lead to a short circuit and cause a fire within the vehicle’s engine compartment, either while driving or parked.

This is the second time these specific vehicles have been recalled, and it’s the latest in a series of fire-related recalls involving Hyundai and Kia cars. According to documentation there were six Optima and two Sorento fire-related customer complaints at the time of the original recall, and there were no fatalities, injuries, or crashes reported. One Kia dealer reported that components melted in an Optima after the original recall was completed. 

This time, dealerships will replace the affected part (called the Hydraulic Electronic Control Unit, or HECU) with a new control unit that has lower amperage ratings, which the automaker says should prevent a short circuit from taking place.

The original recall campaign also included the Hyundai Santa Fe Sport, which recently had a similar recall issued. (Hyundai and Kia are separate brands that exist under the same parent company. In many cases their cars share parts, design, and engineering.)

After more than 3,000 reports of fires and a petition from the Center for Auto Safety, an advocacy group, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration launched an investigation into Hyundai and Kia vehicles that use a 2.0-liter and 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine design that both companies share, which is called the Theta II. There is a class action lawsuit related to the fires as well. Previous recalls of Hyundai and Kia vehicles involved faulty oil pans, catalytic converters, fuel leaks, oil leaks, and engine problems.

The Details

Vehicles recalled: 283,803 Kia Optima sedans from the 2013-2015 model years manufactured between July 12, 2013 and Oct. 2, 2015; and 156,567 Kia Sorento SUVs from the 2014-2015 model years manufactured between June 17, 2013 and Dec. 11, 2014.

The problem: A leaking HECU (Hydraulic Electronic Control Unit) could short circuit and cause a fire in the engine compartment.

The fix: Kia dealerships will inspect the vehicle for leaking brake fluid and, if necessary, install a new HECU. These repairs will be performed at no cost to the vehicle owner.

How to contact the manufacturer: Kia will notify owners via first-class mail starting July 2, 2021. Owners of affected vehicles may call Kia at 800-333-4542.

NHTSA campaign number: 21V331. The earlier recall’s number was 20V519; Kia’s number for this recall is SC212.

Check to see whether your vehicle has an open recall: NHTSA’s website will tell you whether your vehicle has any open recalls that need to be addressed.

If you plug your car’s 17-digit vehicle identification number (VIN) into NHTSA’s website and a recall doesn’t appear, your vehicle doesn’t currently have any open recalls. Because automakers issue recalls often, and for many older vehicles, we recommend checking back regularly to see whether your vehicle has had a recall issued.

Stay informed about recalls that might affect your vehicle using our Car Recall Tracker. Create a free account now to become a CR member.

Jon Linkov

I owe my career to two fateful events: my father buying a 1965 Corvette and my purchase of an Audi A4 rather than a Chevy Tahoe. The Corvette jump-started my love of cars, and the Audi led me to automotive journalism, track days, and amateur car repair. In my free time I cycle as much as possible, no matter the season.