Millions of Kia and Hyundai vehicles recalled due to potential fire danger

Nearly 7 million Kias and Hyundais have now been recalled because of the potential for non-crash fires, including nearly 1 million this year alone. And with multiple defects linked to the fires, auto safety advocates tell Kane In Your Corner they’re unsure how soon the problem can be brought under control.
Tiffany Martin remembers the day her 2013 Kia Soul caught fire as she drove to visit her mother in Pennsylvania with her daughter asleep in the back seat.
“I got out of the car, smoke pouring out, grabbed my child, and ran into the woods,” she recalls.
Tom and Kristin Santer of New York's Orange County saw their Hyundai Sonata go up in flames in March.
“One minute there was some black smoke coming and we started to see a little orange and the next, it was gone,” Tom Santer recalls.
Others shared their stories on social media. Trish Schueller of New Jersey sent a photo of her 2012 Kia Optima. She said it caught fire while she was driving. Maria Christiani Dixon sent a photo of her 2018 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport, engulfed in flames.
Martin, Santer and Schueller’s vehicles were covered by recalls. Dixon’s was not. Hyundai recalled some Santa Fe and Santa Fe Sport SUV’s but stopped at the 2017 model year, one year before hers.
“You're talking about almost 7 million vehicles recalled for fire risk; that’s too many,” says Jason Levine of the Center for Auto Safety, which has been tracking the recalls for five years.
“What is particularly frustrating and concerning is that it's not the same defect. In every one of these vehicles, you've seen multiple different vehicles have multiple different sorts of defects,” Levine says.
The latest recall came from Hyundai, which recalled nearly 400,000 more vehicles in the U.S. and Canada last week. Hyundai said it conducted the recall “to ensure the safety of its customers.”
Kia recalled over 200,000 vehicles in April. “Kia Motors America takes customer safety seriously and will promptly initiate a recall whenever a product issue necessitates such action,” spokesman James Hope told Kane In Your Corner.
With so many models affected, it’s almost impossible to list them all. But the Center for Auto Safety maintains a database, which is regularly updated. If your car is covered by one of the recalls, experts advise not parking it in the garage. There have been reports of vehicles catching fire while they were off. Also, just because a car is recalled doesn’t mean a fix is available. Check with your dealer to find out.
Some drivers have sued Kia and Hyundai over non-crash fires, and the companies have agreed to a $758 million settlement. But only certain vehicles are included. Santer’s Hyundai Sonata qualifies. Martin’s Kia Soul does not. She says a new engine would cost her over $5,000, which she’s unwilling to pay.
“It’s more or less just sitting in my driveway,” she says. “I can’t afford to have it repaired. Even if I could I’m not sure I would ever want to get into it.”
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