Irvine, Calif. – May 10, 2018 – Kia Motors America has recalled more than 27,000 vehicles potentially equipped with defective clutch components, according to documentation submitted to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. The campaign affects 2018 Kia Niro hybrid sport utility vehicles produced between Nov. 1, 2016, and Sept. 11, 2017. The South Korean automaker suspects just 1 percent of the vehicles referenced in the action contain the defective components.
Affected vehicles contain defective hydraulic clutch actuator assemblies with rough edges that may damage to the adjacent oil seal and cause oil to leak or accumulate near the phase cap. Should either of these events occur, the likelihood of electrical shorting and engine fire increases. Consequently, this defect poses a serious hazard to occupants. However, Kia has yet to receive reports connecting the defect to any accidents or injuries.
Timeline of Events
KMA on Dec. 7, 2017, notified its parent company via a quality information report that some 2018 Kia Niro hybrid SUVs were generating hydraulic clutch actuator trouble codes, according to an internal chronology report submitted to the NHTSA. Almost three weeks later, the Kia Motor Corporation initiated an investigation in response to the QIR. Throughout January and February 2018, KMC worked with suppliers to evaluate hydraulic clutch actuator assemblies installed in 2018 Kia Nitro hybrid SUVs. This collaborative inquiry revealed that oil was leaking within the actuator housing, causing the vehicle to generate an error code. Investigators were able to duplicate electrical shorting associated with the leakage but could not recreate thermal decay or engine fire.
Over the course of February and March 2018, KMC conducted more tests to confirm the root cause of the error codes mentioned in the original QIR. On April 16, 2018, the car manufacturer reviewed all available data related to the defective hydraulic clutch actuator assemblies and decided to conduct a voluntary safety recall.
Kia will direct dealers to inspect the hydraulic clutch actuator assemblies installed in affected vehicles and install additional sealant or replace them free of charge, according to an NHTSA recall acknowledgement document. The automaker intends to notify dealers June 8, 2018, and reach out to owners via first-class mail June 15, 2018. Owners in need of assistance prior to the start of the recall can contact Kia customer service personnel at (800) 333-4542. Callers should use the internal recall reference code SC163. Owners can also connect with the NHTSA directly using the agency’s Vehicle Safety Hotline at (888) 327-4236.