Kia and Hyundai Agrees to Pay $760 Million to Settle US Class Action Lawsuits Over Engine Fires
The horror stories about Kia vehicles spontaneously combusting are piling up quickly. According to Consumer Reports, last month alone, the Center for Auto Safety counted more than 200 complaints from consumers to the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) describing scenarios where vehicles suddenly caught fire without warning. The safety group petitioned the federal auto safety agency to issue a formal recall and said the complaints were linked to certain models of both Hyundai and Kia vehicles.
Reports of Fires and Explosions
Consumer Reports gives the example of 19-year-old Bailey Belcher who was driving home when he noticed smoke coming out of his mom’s Kia Soul. He pulled over and exited the vehicle. Five minutes later, the entire car was ablaze. In Oklahoma, Kelly Nash lost his brother who was running errands in his Kia Soul last year and was trapped in his vehicle as it suddenly exploded and caught fire. Nash is looking for answers and reasons as to why this happened. Kia apparently investigated this incident, but has provided the family with no answers or explanation.
NHTSA has sent a letter to Florida Senator Bill Nelson who took up the cause to get these potentially defective vehicles recalled saying they counted a total 402 fire complaints. The fires occurred both with and without prior collisions. NHTSA told Senator Nelson that it would include non-collision fires in an ongoing investigation into engine failures, which is a separate problem affecting Kia and Hyundai vehicles. Nelson has asked the agency to “pick up the pace” of this investigation.
Automakers’ Lax Attitude
The reports of these sudden fires and automakers’ lax response have been part of a disturbing trend in the automotive industry. Advocates say car manufacturers are downplaying reports of serious safety issues in their vehicles portraying serious problems such as carbon monoxide poisoning and fire as “service” issues in an effort to avoid a costly recall.
Safety advocates are saying this practice has grown more common in recent years. Ford Explorers, which have been linked to 1,000 complaints of carbon monoxide poisoning including several injuries have also yet to be recalled. Ford has agreed to fix the issue for free if customers have “concerns,” but it has refused to issue a formal recall.
As auto defect lawyers, we are appalled by automakers and federal agencies’ lax attitude when it comes to consumer safety. Be it the risk of spontaneous combustion or lethal carbon monoxide gas seeping into the cabin, these are serious safety issues, which could put lives in danger. If you’ve been injured as the result of dangerous or defective auto, please contact an experienced auto defect attorney to obtain more information about pursuing your legal rights.