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Kia recalls 147,000 Seltos and Soul vehicles for fire risks, new engines needed

This recall affects the 2020 and 2021 models with the 2.0-liter engines, though one in a hundred will require a new powerplant.

2021 Kia Seltos
You just might get a new engine, Seltos and Soul owners.
Craig Cole/Roadshow

Kia's brand-new Seltos SUV and the funky Soul are the latest cars involved in a fire risk recall. According to documents Kia filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration last week, the 2020-2021 model year vehicles may feature improperly heat-treated piston rings.

The automaker is recalling 147,249 Soul and Seltos vehicles for the issue, which could cause a fire or cause the engine to stall while driving. Cars equipped with the 2.0-liter naturally aspirated inline-four engine are specifically affected. During manufacturing, the supplier didn't apply the correct heat treatment, which created harder piston oil rings in the affected cars. In turn, the ring may scuff the cylinder bore and increase oil consumption. Eventually, owners may be faced with a seized connecting rod bearing -- not good. 

As for the fire risk, oil may leak onto surrounding exhaust components and ignite. Owners may see the oil pressure warning light illuminate if the vehicle experiences this issue. Abnormal noises from the engine and increased oil consumption are also signs of the problem. Kia said it's not aware of any fires or injuries related to the problem and estimates just 1% of the recalled cars are actually affected by the issue.

Still, when a technician inspects each Seltos or Soul and finds an affected car, the vehicle will need a completely new engine. Kia will cover all work and parts at no charge to the customer, but this will be a big job. The brand will also install a new piece of software to better monitor the issue going forward. Owners of affected vehicles will start to receive notices in early June.