Fire problems persist for vehicles from Hyundai and Kia. A previous issue with trailer tow wiring harnesses has now spread to certain models years for the Hyundai Santa Fe, Santa Cruz, and the Kia Carnival. Two new recalls reported by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) cover 571,467 vehicles. Added to an earlier recall for the Hyundai Palisade and Kia Telluride, the total climbs to 852,914 potential models at risk of fire.

The largest new recall is NHTSA Campaign Number 23V181000, covering 567,912 Hyundai vehicles. Specifically, it involves Santa Fe models from 2019 through 2023, including hybrid models going back to 2021 and plug-in hybrids from 2022. The Santa Cruz compact pickup from 2022 through 2023 is also part of the recall. The second notice (NHTSA Campaign Number 223V179000) relates specifically to the Kia Carnival, with 3,555 models from 2022 and 2023 potentially affected.

Gallery: 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz First Drive Review

The problem involves tow hitch wiring harnesses with modules that were either purchased through Hyundai or through authorized retailers. A circuit board in the module could be susceptible to water, causing a short. The harness has constant power, so even when vehicles are shut off, the risk of a short circuit remains. If this happens, it could lead to a fire.

Despite the large number of recalled vehicles, Hyundai reports six incidents that could be related to this problem and only one fire, all taking place with Hyundai vehicles. The Kia Carnival is included in the recall as it uses a "substantially similar" trailer harness, but no known incidents with the minivan have been reported.

This all began back in August with a recall of 281,447 Hyundai Palisades and Kia Tellurides. Listed as a separate recall, it involves the same issue with moisture affecting the trailer tow module. Four potentially related fires and 13 melted modules were reported with that recall. There are no reports of accidents or injuries pertaining to this issue across all recalls.

The fix is straightforward. Hyundai will install new wiring that prevents water ingress to the module, along with a 15A fuse. Owner notification of the recall will begin May 16; Hyundai advises owners of potentially affected vehicles to park outside and away from structures until the fix is implemented.

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