This is never good.
Automakers aren’t taking any chances anymore when it comes to recalls no matter how big or small the issue may be. In this case, Kia has just issued a recall for 27,030 examples of 2017-2018 Niro plug-in hybrid crossovers due to a potential fire risk. More specifically, there’s an issue with part of the main relay within the power relay assembly located under the rear seat.
Apparently, the main relay may not have sufficient connection between its contacts, thus causing increased electrical resistance, which can overheat the rear seat and potentially cause a fire.
It’s also possible a warning light will appear on the dashboard if too much heat is generated, which Kia says could cause “thermal damage” to the rear seat. Or, perhaps, the vehicle simply won’t start at all. Kia claims the affected vehicles were built between November 1, 2016 and September 11, 2017. Despite the large number of Niro hybrids being recalled, Kia estimates that only one percent of these vehicles are defective. Again, better be safe than sorry.
There are two ways the issue at hand can be fixed, and it depends on what dealership technicians discover under the rear seat. The first step is simply to inspect the power relay assembly for damage. If none is found, just the main relay will be replaced outright.
If any damage is found then the entire power relay assembly will be swapped out for a new one. As this is a factory recall, owners won’t have to pay anything. Although this may sound like a potentially serious issue, Kia dealerships notifications won’t be sent to them until November 16. Affected owners won’t receive their first-class mail notifications until November 23. Fortunately, there have been no reports of damage or injuries related to this recall, which could be a reason why the recall won’t get underway until late next month.