HOUSTON – NOTE: This story was originally published on KSAT’s sister station’s page, Click2Houston.com.
More than 6.5 million vehicles are under recall because they could catch fire at any moment. While that is alarming, what may be more disturbing are the vehicles at risk that are not included in the massive recall.
Imagine driving down the road and your car starts to fill up with smoke, and then with no warnings or signals, it goes up in flames. It is happening repeatedly to dozens of Hyundai and Kia cars and SUVs. Some drivers say the carmaker isn’t doing enough to warn drivers of the danger.
“If I would have had children in the back seat, I would have died trying to get them out,” said Brittany Wolfe.
Wolfe watched her 2013 Kia Soul go up in flames seconds after she escaped the driver’s seat.
“Everything was just popping,” she explained. “The windows blew out, the windshield blew out... everything.”
Wolfe said no lights illuminated on the dash to let her know there was a problem before the sudden fire started.
“If I would have had children in the back seat, I would have died trying to get them out because of how fast it went up and the glass blew,” she told KPRC consumer expert Amy Davis.
The fires in Hyundai and Kia vehicles are a well-documented problem. Over the last several years, Kia and Hyundai have recalled more than 6.5 million vehicles for defects that could cause fires including models from 2010 all the way to brand new 2021 vehicles. But Brittany’s Soul was never recalled.
“I would have gone the day that if I got the recall notice,” Brittany said.
Sure, Brittany’s fire just happened in May, but Kia and regulators with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have been investigating the issue for years.
More than two years later, NHTSA told consumer expert Amy Davis “the agency does not comment on ongoing investigations.”
“This shouldn’t be normal,” Brittany said. “This is not supposed to happen. This isn’t okay.”
“It’s a pretty significant problem,” confirmed Jason Levine, the executive director for The Center for Auto Safety. Levine said his organization pushed for federal regulators to recall all 2013 Kia Souls, but NHTSA did not. He says it is up to NHTSA to push Kia to move as quickly as possible to help consumers.
“And unfortunately, it’s not clear that they’ve gotten their hands around the whole problem,” he said.
While Brittany has not been able to get any answers from Kia about why her vehicle burst into flames, her insurance did pay her to replace her vehicle. Brittany believes most consumers just stop there and move on, instead of pushing the carmaker to expand the recalls.
Here is a list of all of the vehicles recalled because of the risk of fires. You can type your VIN in here to find out if there are any open recalls for your vehicle. https://www.nhtsa.gov/recalls