A former Kia employee at the company’s corporate headquarters says he warned the automaker as far back as 2017 that faulty engine recall work was to blame for car fires that consumers were reporting. According to an ABC News report, Jason Vaughn said he is coming forward now because people’s lives are at risk. Vaughn worked for the warranty department at the headquarters for Kia Motors America in Irvine. He says he was pushed out of his job because he raised concerns about the car fires.
Vaughn says he was performing Kia dealer audits in 2017 when he discovered dealerships performing engine recalls improperly, leading to highly flammable fuel pump leaks. Vaughn said he alerted his supervisor during a warranty operations meeting in November 2017, but did not get the reaction he expected. He said his boss was not receptive and that she didn’t think it was something important.
Dangers of Kia Car Fires
So far, drivers in 44 states have reported 276 Kia and Hyundai fires, according to the Center for Auto Safety. The U.S. Attorney’s Office in New York City has also reportedly opened up an investigation into whether Kia and Hyundai handled the engine recalls properly. Earlier this month, Kia and Hyundai announced a plan to recall more than 150,000 cars and SUVs for fuel pump issues. Kia estimates that its recall would involve more than 50,000 Optima vehicles, about 17,000 Sorentos and 1,000 Sportage vehicles. Hyundai estimates that about 100,000 of its vehicles will be recalled.
Recalls Are Not Enough
Auto safety advocates are already calling for the automakers to expand their recall saying they suspect many more vehicles that are not on the recall list pose a fire risk. The Center for Auto Safety wants the automakers to recall nearly 3 million vehicles due to car fire concerns. In November, the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee called for a hearing on Kia and Hyundai fires on Nov. 14. But, that hearing was canceled after CEOs for those companies refused to attend or explain the cause of these fires.
Consumers say this is potentially an extremely dangerous situation where a car could catch fire and burn to the ground within 10 to 15 seconds, making it impossible for vehicle occupants to get out safely. The situation could become even more tragic where children could be involved. If you or a loved one has been injured as a result of these vehicles, please contact an experienced product defect attorney to obtain more information about pursuing your legal rights.