Federal Regulators to Investigate Nearly 3 Million Hyundai and Kia Vehicles for Fire Hazard
U.S. Senator Bill Nelson, the top-ranking Democrat from Florida on the U.S. Senate committee that oversees the auto industry is calling for federal regulators to investigate complaints about Kia and Hyundai vehicle catching fire. According to a report in Detroit News, Nelson said in a letter to Heidi King, deputy administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) that so far, consumers have filed more than 120 complaints with the agency involving non-collision fires in Kia and Hyundai vehicles. These are basically vehicles that are spontaneously catching fire.
Nelson wrote to King that the agency should take these complaints seriously and look into what is causing the fires. NHTSA has responded by saying that it is reviewing the matter and will “take appropriate action to protect the American public.” If you are having any issues with your Kia or Hyundai vehicle, NHTSA is encouraging consumers to report safety concerns by calling their hotline at (888) 327-4236. Hyundai, which is a minority owner of Kia, has said it is reviewing a petition filed by the Center for Auto Safety with regard to 2011-2014 Sonata and Santa Fe Sport vehicles.
Consumers Report Problems
The Detroit News report gives the example of a Florida driver and owner of a 2014 Kia Optima who complained to NHTSA about the vehicle catching fire on an interstate driver. The driver said they were driving down the interstate when a loud pop was heard. The driver pulled over thinking it was tire failure and got down to check tires. Not seeing a problem, the driver got back in, but smelled something.
Once the driver exited the vehicle, the vehicle was engulfed in flames. The fire report showed it was due to an electrical issue. The entire care burned. Another driver of a 2013 Kia Optima complained about the vehicle stalling without warning and smoke and flames emerging fro under the hood. Nelson has asked NHTSA whether it has considered initiating a formal safety defect investigation. The agency is expected to provide more information on this issue by July 3.
Auto Product Liability Issues
This appears to be an extremely serious auto defect. As auto defect attorneys, we join Senator Nelson and the Center for Auto Defect in urging NHTSA to investigate these cases expeditiously. Failing to do so is likely to result in catastrophic injuries or fatalities, which could be avoided if a prompt recall is issues and consumers are informed about the risks. If there is an electrical issue with these vehicles, which there appears to be, it needs to be remedied as soon as possible. If you have been injured due to these or other auto defects, please contact an experienced auto defect attorney who can help you explore your legal rights and options.