January 11, 2024
Happy 2024! We’re back with another edition of “The Recall Notice,” our quarterly blog series where we explore the latest in National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recalls. We also dive into how these recalls were addressed and how automotive connectivity solutions can be leveraged to streamline future recall rollout efforts. Last year, we covered a variety of both software-related recalls and hardware-related recalls. But to kick off the new year we’ve got something special in store; read on to learn more.
NHTSA Campaign Number: 23V877000
OEM: Kia America, Inc.
Estimated Vehicles Affected: 79,812
Remedy: Software update at dealership and potential engine replacement
Estimated Cost: $23.9M - $39.9M
No one wants their engine to spontaneously combust while driving, which is why Kia is recalling certain Sorento 2011 vehicles in NHTSA Recall 23V677. While the manufacturer has yet to identify the actual cause of the fires, they have narrowed the affected units down to those produced at the Kia Georgia plant between October 24, 2009, and June 24, 2011. Impacted vehicles are equipped with Theta II 2.4L Multi-Point Injection (MPI) engines and don’t have Knock Sensor Detection System (KSDS) software installed.
The remedy is rather a failsafe that is intended to mitigate unreasonable fire risk resulting from potential engine damage. It includes the installation of KSDS software and if necessary engine replacement. Although over 79,000 Sorento vehicles are being recalled for this in-dealer fix, only 1% of these actually have the defect.
NHTSA Campaign Number: 23V787000
OEM: Chrysler (FCA US, LLC)
Components: ELECTRICAL SYSTEM
Estimated Vehicles Affected: 32,125
Remedy: Software update at dealership and potential battery pack replacement
Estimated Cost: $9.6M - $16.1M
NHTSA Recall 23V787 includes certain Jeep Wrangler Plug-In Hybrid Electric (PHEV) vehicles from model years 2021 to 2023. Similar to the Kia recall, this one involves a fault that may result in a fire and a root cause that remains unknown. In May 2023 an investigation was opened regarding two reported fires that originated in the vehicle’s high-voltage (HV) battery. It was determined that battery cells manufactured within a specific date range had the potential to experience an unspecified internal failure that could result in a vehicle fire regardless of whether the engine was on or off.
If you’ve been with us for a while, you might remember some of the other HV battery-related faults we’ve covered over the last few years. Among them are a recall for a battery-fire issue with unknown cause in certain Chevy Bolts, an HV issue resulting in a sudden loss of power with a range of BMW vehicles, and an HV battery management system issue with certain Volkswagen ID.4 vehicles. In addition to being battery-related, these recalls share a common thread: none of the manufacturers had a means of remotely monitoring and diagnosing the battery, or deploying an over-the-air fix – be that temporary or permanent. As such the remedy for NHTSA Recall 23V787 requires a visit to the dealer, where new software will be flashed on the HV battery pack and – if a diagnostic trouble code (DTC) results – a battery pack replacement.
NHTSA Campaign Number: 23V838000
OEM: Tesla, Inc.
Components: ELECTRICAL SYSTEM
Estimated Vehicles Affected: 2,031,220
Remedy: Over-the-air (OTA) software update, free of charge
Estimated Cost: Negligible
This isn’t the first time that we’ve mentioned Tesla in “The Recall Notice,” but the fact of the matter is that they have accomplished something that most automakers continue to struggle with: full-vehicle OTA. NHTSA Recall 23V838 includes a whopping 2M+ units, however none of those will be required to return to the dealership. The fault, which isn’t really a fault as much as an oversight, pertains to vehicles with a version of Autosteer that may be insufficient in preventing misuse of the SAE Level 2 ADAS (Advanced Driver Assistance System) feature. As such, impacted 2012-2023 Model S, 2016-2023 Model X, 2017-2023 Model 3, and 2020-2023 Model Y vehicles will receive a free over-the-air update.
Of course, Tesla isn’t the only automaker saving time, money, and lives with OTA. In NHTSA Recall 23V768, Lonestar Specialty Vehicles released an OTA update to remedy an issue with the Vehicle Control Units (VCUs) of certain 2021-2023 SV Hybrid Electric S22 terminal tractors. Rivian has also adopted a connected approach to recalls, the company corrected a detection issue in the speed control system with an over-the-air update, in NHTSA Recall 23V883.
There is no way for automakers to go back and change the past. However, looking at how connected device solutions could have helped recalls in the present, gives us an idea of how to leverage them in the future.
Let’s start by looking at fault identification. Kia is still searching for the cause of the Sorrento engine fires – a task that can prove almost impossible depending on the extent of fire damage. A connected device solution like Sibros Deep Logger provides OEMs with full visibility of what is happening in the vehicle before, after, and during an incident. In addition to identifying the cause, it could also narrow the recall scope and the vehicles most likely to be impacted. Imagine the cost savings of a recall that included 798 vehicles (the estimated 1% that have the fault) instead of 79,812 vehicles. But let’s go a step further. After those 798 stop by the dealer for their in-person fix – as sadly the world has yet to devise a remote solution for part replacement – the other 79,000 or so non-affected vehicles that still require their KSDS software update can receive it with a full-vehicle OTA solution like Sibros Deep Updater.
Deep Updater could also be leveraged for the Chrysler recall, by deploying additional safety measures until owners can bring their cars into the dealer. Additionally, data provided by Deep Logger could help determine which battery packs are malfunctioning to help prioritize repair efforts, and identify the root cause, to avoid such issues in future battery iterations and designs. Another side effect of monitoring and maintaining battery health through data logging and remote updates is increased HV battery longevity and safety – which in turn improves customer satisfaction, brand loyalty, and overall profits.
OEMs like Tesla, Rivian, and Lonestar understand the importance of OTA in revolutionizing recall remediation. Of course, the in-house development of a dependable and comprehensive connected device solution that not only includes OTA updates, but remote diagnostics, commands, and data logging as well, is easier said than done. Instead of investing indeterminate amounts of time and money in research and development, invest in the future and start saving today with an out-of-the-box connected device solution like Sibros Deep Connected Platform. Learn more, book a demo today.