Yes, this industry started out with the construct that anybody who owned a car, especially out in the boondocks, ought to have a reasonable chance of being able to keep it running unassisted. Do a P&L on any car dealership of any size and it will become clear, real fast, that automotive maintenance hasn’t been a solo activity for a very long time now, unless you happen to possess an exceptional level of skills and diagnostic tools. Dealers make nearly as much from fixing vehicles as selling them. They’re the most technologically complicated consumer goods in existence. Sometimes, they break. And when that involves safety or emissions, the federal government, by law, is going to get involved.
This longstanding and well-formed processes of joint manufacturer and regulator oversight had its intended result when Kia told nearly 380,000 owners of the Sportage SUV and the platform-sharing Cadenza sedans that they should avoid parking near dwellings or other structures. That’s because Kia says a short circuit in the vehicles’ hydraulic electronic control units could touch off a fire in the engine bay. The recall notice from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports no actual fires resulting from the problem, which Kia dealers will correct after notifying owners. Vehicles without the Smart Cruise Control system built from 2017 to 2021 (Sportage) and 2017 through 2019 (Cadenza) are covered by the recall. Full disclosure: One such Sportage is part of this household. The issue, along with Kia engine failures, have been under investigation by NHTSA since 2019, and has already resulted in one fiscal settlement by Kia and Hyundai.