Kia has announced the latest in a string of major recalls plaguing the auto industry this year, this one impacting nearly 260,000 late-model Soul crossovers.
The maker says that a faulty steering gear assembly could cause the vehicle’s steering system to fail, the steering wheel itself even coming lose.
It’s just the latest in a string of six- and seven-figure recalls that are pushing the industry close to a new record, potentially topping the all-time high 64 million vehicles affected by safety-related issues n 2015.
According to Kia, an adhesive used to hold together steering gear comments apparently isn’t strong enough. If it fails, the pinion gear and steering gear assembly could pull apart.
Kia has advised The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration about the problem and will formally issue a recall notice to consumers in the coming weeks. Five cars have been brought in for warranty claims related to the problem, though no accidents or injuries have so far been reported.
The issue affects Kia Soul crossovers produced during the 2014 and 2015 model-years, of which about 256,000 were sold in the United States.
The official recall will be launched on December 22nd. Owners will be advised to bring their vehicles to dealers for inspection. An additional bolt will be installed to prevent the problem.
Kia is just the latest among numerous automakers who have faced steering-related problems this year. Last March, for example, Toyota recalled about 110,000 late-model Camry, Camry hybrid, Highlander, Highlander hybrid and RAV4 models because a circuit board failure could cause a power steering failure. Two months later, Ford recalled nearly 200,000 Explorer SUVs from the 2011-2013 model-years because of a steering gear problem.
(GM recalls 1.4 mil vehicles due to fire risk. Click Here for details.)
But manufacturers have been recalling vehicles at a rapid pace for a wide range of issues, including power window switches that can overheat and cause a vehicle fire, excessive corrosion, faulty ignition switches and defective airbags that can over-inflate and send shrapnel bursting into the passenger compartment.
The latter problem, linked to faulty airbag inflators provided by Japanese supplier Takata, has resulted in the recall of 20 million vehicles so far – and NHTSA is examining new reports of Takata failures that could lead to additional recalls.
(Takata plunges into the red as Toyota, other customers call it quits. Click Here for the story.)
Last year, about 64 million vehicles were impacted by recalls in the U.S. – about half of them sold by General Motors. The maker’s admission it delayed responded to problems with a flawed ignition switch has been linked to over 100 deaths.
GM eventually paid a $900 million fine to settle a criminal investigation launched by the U.S. Justice Department, along with fines levied by NHTSA. Toyota settled a similar investigation into its handling of so-called sudden acceleration issues for $1.2 billion.
Mark Rosekind, who took over a director of NHTSA last December, has ordered a crackdown on the industry, and that has led to hefty fines for several other makers, including Honda and Fiat Chrysler, for failing to respond to safety issues in a timely manner.
Volkswagen recently agreed to a third-party audit of its handling of safety issues under the government’s Early Warning Report.
(Recalls take a big toll on Fiat Chrysler’s bottom line. Click Here for more.)