Center for Auto Safety Demands Recall of 2.9 Million 2011-2014 Kia and Hyundai Vehicles After Almost One Non-Collision Fire Report Every Day for Four Months

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 12, 2018
Contact: Grace Garver, ggarver@autosafety.org, (202) 328-7700

Center for Auto Safety Demands Recall of 2.9 Million 2011-2014 Kia Sorento,

Kia Optima, Hyundai Sonata, Hyundai Santa Fe, and 2010-2015 Kia Soul Vehicles After Almost One Non-Collision Fire Report Every Day for Four Months

 

The Center for Auto Safety—the nation’s premier independent non-profit consumer advocacy organization dedicated to improving vehicle safety, quality, and fuel economy—is calling on Hyundai Motor America and Kia Motors America to recall all 2011-2014 Kia Sorento, Kia Optima, Hyundai Sonata, and Hyundai Santa Fe, and 2010-2015 Kia Soul vehicles as they present a fire hazard. There have been more than 220 consumer complaints regarding non-collision fires in these vehicles submitted to NHTSA and the Center for Auto Safety combined.

“Since our call for an investigation into these Kia and Hyundai non-collision fires, we have seen reports of almost one fire every single day across these five models,” said Jason Levine, executive director of the Center for Auto Safety. “The number and severity of these complaints, when people are simply driving their cars on the highway, is frightening. It is long past time for Kia and Hyundai to act. Car fires put everyone on the road in significant danger.”

Between June 12 and October 12, 2018, the Center learned of 103 additional fire reports, an 85% increase.

So far, whenever presented with a burned out vehicle from which owners—and often small children—have barely escaped, both manufacturers have provided unhelpful statements such as: “Kia Motors America (KMA) works directly with customers and if it is determined that a fire is the result of a manufacturing-related issue, KMA will work with customers to address any costs or expenses they may incur.” Similarly, Hyundai has said “if NHTSA finds that additional remedies are warranted it will take action.”

“Based on the data collected to date, and these manufacturers’ inability, or unwillingness, to determine the cause of these fires on behalf of the hundreds of Kia and Hyundai customers who own cars which have burst into flames, the Center believes the additional remedy which is warranted is a full recall,” responded Levine.

Perhaps even more troubling, the Center has been presented with at least one dozen instances where consumers had an engine related recall performed—only to have the car catch fire at a later date.

This is significant, because in a letter from Deputy Administrator Heidi King of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to U.S. Senator Bill Nelson (FL), it was suggested that two ongoing “recall queries” into a previous recall for engine debris (Recall Nos. 17V-224 and 17V-226) were likely to be sufficient to determine the source of the problem. The letter noted these queries covered the “majority of the non-collision fire related complaints received by NHTSA on the vehicles referenced in the (Center) review.” While NHTSA’s review remains pending it is important to note that not all of the Model Year 2011 and 2014 Kia Sorento vehicles were covered by the engine debris recall, and the Kia Soul was not eligible for the recall at all. In other words, even a completed Recall Query may not suffice.

“Unfortunately, most, if not all, auto manufacturers occasionally produce vehicles that catch fire, even when not involved in a collision. However, the volume of fires here make it appear that Hyundai and Kia are content to sit back and allow consumers, and insurers, to bear the brunt of poorly designed, manufactured, or repaired vehicles,” Levine continued. “There have been reports of these fires from across the country, including a death in Ohio in April 2017. Before there’s another tragedy, Kia and Hyundai must recall these vehicles, determine why they are catching on fire, and remedy the situation.”

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Over the last 48 years, the Center for Auto Safety has successfully led the fight for lemon laws in every state, airbags in every vehicle, and recall repairs being made at no cost to the consumer. The Center is a membership-driven organization headquartered in Washington, DC and is also home to the Safe Climate Campaign, which fights global warming by working for big, specific measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The Center is also the publisher of The Car Book, which has for the last 38 years been America’s most comprehensive car buying guide. To learn more about the Center, please visit www.AutoSafety.org.


Learn more about Hyundai and Kia fires.