Hyundai and Kia are telling the owners of more than 571,000 SUVs and minivans in the United States to park the vehicles 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 2019-23 Santa Fe, the 2021-23 Santa Fe Hybrid, the 2022-23 Santa Fe Plug-in hybrid and the 2022-23 Santa Cruz. The only Kia affected is the Carnival minivan from 2022-23. 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 filed reports of one fire and five heat damage incidents with no injuries. Kia has no reported fires or injuries.
Dealers at first will remove the fuse and tow hitch computer module until a fix is available. They will later 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 2020-22 Palisade SUVs for a similar problem. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said Thursday the latest recall is a direct result of the agency monitoring the Palisade recall from last year.