DETROIT — 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.
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Hyundai and Kia aren't the only car brands that have been affected by recalls over fire hazards. Early last year, Ford had to recall about 139,000 SUVs because the engines of those cars could potentially catch on fire, even when the ignition was turned off.
That issue was caused by a printed circuit board that was susceptible to a short.
Similar to the new recall, Ford also told customers to park their cars outside until they could get a replacement.