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Engine Trouble: Kia Recalling 147,249 Soul, Seltos Models

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Kia is recalling close to 150,000 units of its Soul and Seltos SUV models. Once again, a fire hazard is involved, which adds another stain to the record of the Korean auto manufacturer that has been forced to issue several recalls due to various engine problems that can lead to fires.

This time, the models affected are the 2020 and 2021 Soul and Seltos. In the case of the former, we’re talking about the current generation of the model, introduced for 2020. As for the Seltos, there are only 2021 models on the market, with the vehicle debuting in the spring of last year as a 2021 vintage.

According to documents Kia filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) last week, the affected vehicles may have thermally inadequately treated piston rings.

The automaker is therefore calling 147,249 models into service centres for an inspection and to determine if they have developed the problem, which could cause a fire or stall the engine while driving. It should be noted that the situation affects models equipped with the naturally aspirated 2.0L 4-cylinder engine, so the turbocharged Seltos are not affected.

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2021 Kia Soul
Photo: D.Boshouwers
2021 Kia Soul

The source of the problem is given as follows: during the manufacturing process, a supplier did not apply the correct heat treatment, which resulted in the creation of harder piston rings. As a result, the ring can scratch the cylinder bore and increase oil consumption. Finally, owners may end up with a deficient connecting rod bearing, which is definitely not desirable.

As for the fire hazard mentioned, it's that the oil can leak onto surrounding exhaust components and ignite. Owners may see the oil pressure light come on if the vehicle is experiencing this problem. Abnormal noises coming from the engine and increased oil consumption are also signs to watch for. Kia said it is not aware of any fires or injuries related to this problem and estimates that only 1 percent of recalled vehicles are affected by the issue.

Nevertheless, in those rare cases, the model will need a new engine. Kia will pay for all work and parts. The brand will also install new software to better monitor the problem in the future.

Owners of affected vehicles will begin receiving notifications in early June.

Kia logo on the 2021 Kia Soul
Photo: D.Boshouwers
Kia logo on the 2021 Kia Soul