Drivers Call for Probe After Kia, Hyundai Models Catch Fire - NBC Bay Area
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Drivers Call for Probe After Kia, Hyundai Models Catch Fire

Both car makers — owned by Hyundai Motor Group — previously recalled more than a million cars for an engine defect

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Hyundai, Kia Vehicles Spontaneously Bursting into Flames

    Certain cars spontaneously are erupting into flames. Randy Mac and the I-Team report for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on Oct. 1, 2018. (Published Monday, Oct. 1, 2018)

    More car owners have come forward demanding car-makers or the federal government take action after Kias and Hyundais have been spontaneously catching fire.

    Lorinda Hixon pulled her 2012 Kia Sorento off an LA freeway minutes before she said it spontaneously burst into flames.

    "Thank god, I just say thank god. Thank god I got out of the vehicle and I'm here today," she said.

    She's not alone. Kia owners across the country say their cars have spontaneously erupted in flames.

    After seeing reports, Jason Tellefsen reached out to NBC Los Angeles, saying his 2012 Hyundai Sonata also caught fire while his young daughters were in the back seat.

    "My girls were, you know, hysterical. They were terrified," Tellefsen said.

    Both car makers — owned by Hyundai Motor Group — previously recalled more than a million cars for an engine defect. It's these same cars that owners report are now catching fire.

    Reps from the nonprofit group Center for Auto Safety believe this is a new issue unrelated to the engine defect. They've counted nearly 400 non-collision "fire-and-near-fire" incidents - data they gathered from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and its own findings.

    The center has petitioned the NHTSA to demand a new recall.

    "What they should be doing is opening a new investigation into why Kias and Hyundais are catching fire," Jason Levine of the Center for Auto Safety said.

    But the NHTSA isn't investigating the issue yet. By law, it's required to respond to the Center's petition, and it has a few more weeks to do that.

    As for the car makers, in statements to NBC Los Angeles, Hyundai said:

    If it and the NHTSA "....Finds that additional remedies are warranted...We will take action."

    Kia said: "All automobiles contain combustible materials and a vehicle fire may be the result of any number of complex factors....And must be evaluated by a qualified and trained investigator..."

    This offers little comfort for the growing number of drivers who feel lucky to be alive.

    "So take the responsibility and acknowledge there's an issue with the vehicle so nobody gets hurt or killed," Tellefsen said.

    Hyundai told NBC Los Angeles that it's inspecting Tellefsen's car and Kia is trying to schedule an inspection of Hixon's.

    If you own one of these Kias or Hyundais, safety advocates recommend you carry a fire extinguisher in your car. And if you smell something burning, pull over and get out immediately.

    Model and years of the cars affected:

    2011-2014 Kia Optima

    2012-2014 Kia Sorento

    2011-2013 Kia Sportage

    2011-2012 Hyundai Sonata