Kia issues new U.S. recall of 68,000 vehicles for fire risks

WASHINGTON, Jan 16 (Reuters) - Kia Motors Corp said on Wednesday it would recall 68,000 U.S. vehicles at risk of fuel leaks after it previously recalled them in 2017 for engine fire risks.

A high pressure fuel pipe may have been damaged or improperly installed as part of an engine replacement during a previous recall, and that repair could increase the risk of fire, Kia said.

The Korean automaker also said it would offer a software update to nearly 1.7 million U.S. vehicles to protect them from internal damage. The software detects vibrations indicating the onset of excessive connecting rod bearing wear. Kia said that 20 percent of vehicles have already received the update. 

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In May 2017, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration opened a formal investigation into the recall of nearly 1.7 million Hyundai Motor Co and Kia vehicles over engine defects.

In November, Reuters reported that federal prosecutors had launched a criminal investigation into Korean auto affiliates Hyundai and Kia https://reut.rs/2VVMwYm to determine if vehicle recalls linked to engine defects were conducted properly, citing a person with knowledge of the matter and documents.

A South Korean whistleblower in 2016 reported concerns to NHTSA, which has been probing the timeliness of three U.S. recalls and whether they covered enough vehicles.

(Reporting by David Shepardson, Editing by Bernadette Baum)

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