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The Whole Car Recall Saga - Part I

This year, my car has been a bit off. It was noisy during my road trip with friends in October, but it wasn't having any other symptoms. I had changed out the engine filter and the cabin filter because it sounded like it was straining a bit. That seemed to improve it, though didn't fully correct it.

Recently, the engine light turned on as it always does at this time of the year. Then it turned off again. It has never enjoyed the winter weather. The steering gets briefly tight and then it accepts winter and is fine.

Well, after turning itself off, it turned on again. I still wasn't worried because the weather had been up and down prior to the first snowstorm of the year.

But then I recently noticed a burning smell. It didn't smell like when the brakes get hot. It smelled more like burning plastic. It's never smelled like that before.

Anyway, I had the winter tires put on last week. On Saturday, I checked my mail and found a recall notice about a part that causes engine fires.

The letter stated that if either the engine light or the ABS light were on and you smelled burning, to have it towed to the dealership for repair. If it wasn't exhibiting those signs yet, you should still park it away from structures and other vehicles because it could have an engine compartment fire at any time.

So I did as instructed. Both the Roadside and Recalls reps recommended having it towed to the closest dealership to be fixed. Recalls said they would do a free diagnostic check on the car to verify that it is the fuses causing the symptoms. A tow truck was here by about 10AM.

One man at the service department at Kia 417 was not the best to deal with on this. The younger staff member was fine. The older one treated me like I must be an idiot because, "engine lights go on all the time," and "are you sure you know what burning smells like? " Gee thanks, older white dude. Thanks for treating me the exact way I expect to be treated as a female-presenting human at a garage.

What he doesn't know about me related to cars is that I've been around cars and garages for a large portion of my life. My dad is a retired expert mechanic who has worked on lawn machinery, buses, transport trucks, dumptrucks, construction equipment, and non-commercial transportation vehicles for around 50 years. He's probably forgotten more than that guy knows. And he's never treated a woman like she's dumb about car stuff. Actually, he spent a lot of time helping women out with their cars because of mechanics just like that guy and worse. He'd ask them questions to help narrow down the issue in a kind and useful way.

I felt like I had been duped or there was a huge disconnect between what the parent company is saying and the dealerships. They sent me home in an Uber to wait for the diagnostics check to be done after having me sign something saying I'll pay the $155 + tax fee if it turns out they don't find anything related to the recall.

I was not happy. This was not something said on the phone any of the times I called. I was told it would be 100% covered.

Another thing I was unhappy about?

They claimed their computer shows only some other recall is on my car related to some anti-corrosion coating for the underside of the vehicle. Well, when I put my VIN number into the Kia Recall site, it shows otherwise:

It doesn't show anything else for my car.

So I'm thinking I've been lied to multiple times and treated like I must be clueless. Sure makes me want to consider ever owning another Kia (sarc).

After checking out some forums, I've learned that some dealerships don't want to do these recall repairs because they don't make enough money on them. They will say they don't have the lower amperage fuses and the kit in stock that has labels and such. Apparently, they'd usually rather repair it than supply a loaner vehicle though.

In my opinion, if you are unwilling to do repairs relating to safety in a prompt timeline, you shouldn't have a dealership at all.

Later on Monday, my car was ready to be picked up. I had no clue what they meant by that because the parts aren't ready for the fiery recall, right? I request another Uber because how else did they think I would be getting back there?

So, the diagnostics revealed that my throttle body was plugged up. They cleaned it out, updated the computer, and cleared codes before doing a road test. They also did the other recall work. They only charged me the diagnostics fee. I made sure the rest of the staff new my issue, because I was quite vocal earlier on, was not with them. And I asked more questions about their computer systems.

Apparently, when a recall isn't ready to start yet and they are only in the notification stage, it won't show up in the records at the dealership. That's fine. It makes sense. But once it goes active, it's no longer attached to a VIN on the main Kia website. So if, like me, you happen not to get the letter informing you about it, you won't see that it exists and will miss bringing your car in. That's really really bad when there is a major safety issue happening!

One thing I'm still finding strange about this whole HECU recall thing for fuses is that my car is 11-years-old, so how hasn't it caught fire by this point? Like, shouldn't it have happened by now? The letter lists years 2012-2017. And judging by the forums linked above, they had one on newer models as well.

Anyway, I'm to just be careful where I park it for now, so I parked in visitors and asked my property management company what they want me to do until the repair happens.


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