9 Investigates

Woman says her 2021 Kia caught fire without being in wreck

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Tracy Lee says she bought a brand-new 2021 Kia Sportage back in August. She says a few days ago, she took it back to the dealer for an oil change and then drove to a shopping center.

“I put the car in park, I saw smoke, jumped out, and it just went in flames,” she told Action 9′s Jason Stoogenke. “You feel like you’re in a movie or something.”

She says she and her 10-year-old daughter made it out OK, but the SUV is just a burned shell of a vehicle now.

“It was just scary because I’m like, ‘We could’ve been gone had we kept driving.’ Know what I’m saying? Or got on the highway, we could have been gone ... we could have lost our life and been gone,” she said.

She lives in Kansas City and started researching the issue. “I saw your story online and I was like, ‘hey, maybe they should know it’s not just those years that you have posted. It’s more,’” she told Stoogenke. This is the first 2021 Hyundai or Kia Stoogenke has heard of catching fire without being in a crash.

Lee says Kia is investigating and gave her a loaner car in the meantime. She wants the company to consider another recall, this time for 2021 models. Our life was in danger. We put our life in our car and barely made it out of it, you know,” she says.

Stoogenke emailed Kia for its response, but did not hear back in time for this report.

No matter what you drive, if your car catches fire without being in a wreck, tell the car company, the federal safety agency, NHTSA, and Action 9. If you spend any money on repairs, save your receipts in case there is a recall or lawsuit, so you can get money back.

Stoogenke has been telling you about that proposed $758 million legal settlement. It covers a lot of Hyundais and Kias, but not 2021s models. The judge is expected to sign off on it any day now.

He’ll let you know as soon as he knows how to apply for that money, so you don’t miss out.

Kia recalls about 300K cars and SUVs for possible fire risk

Action 9 investigator Jason Stoogenke interviewed Chris Stephens, of Conover, right before the pandemic about issues with his 2013 Forte.

“I opened the door and I looked out the door, and I (saw) the whole front of my car on fire,” Stephens told Stoogenke. “You could see the flames already coming up. The whole front of it was just engulfed in flames.”

He said firefighters investigated the fire but didn’t figure out the exact cause.

“I couldn’t believe how fast it went up,” Stephens said. “I thought I was in a movie or something.”

At the time of the interview, Kia told Stoogenke it collects data on the cars and that it didn’t see a reason to expand the recalls to include Fortes.

Stephens felt that needed to change.

“I think something should be done about it because I’m sure I’m not the only one it’s happened to,” he said.

Now, Kia has issued the recall.

Kia told Stoogenke it’s “conducting this recall as a preventative measure. No design or manufacturing defect has been identified.”

The company said the recall will start Jan. 27.

Kia is recalling these models (in some cases, certain ones, not all) for a potential risk of fire:

  • 2012-2015 Forte and Forte Koup
  • 2011-2013 Optima Hybrid
  • 2012-2013 Sorento
  • 2014-2015 Soul
  • 2012 Sportage

Woman tells Action 9 her Kia caught fire days before Thanksgiving

Karen Yonker said her 2018 Kia Sorento caught fire about a week and a half ago, just before Thanksgiving.

“My granddaughter got out and said, ‘The car is on fire. Get out of the car,’” Yonker told Action 9′s Jason Stoogenke. “It just accelerated, like, fast.”

She said her family lives in Michigan and was driving to Florida when it happened.

“We were in Horse Cave, Kentucky,” Yonker said.

Fortunately, no one was hurt, but she said her family lost a lot of belongings, including a precious one.

“I got my mom’s diamond. She has passed, but I had it reset. That was in my bag,” Yonker told Action 9. “That diamond, I know I’m never going to replace it.”

Yonker then went online where she found Stoogenke’s reports about Hyundai and Kia fires -- so she emailed him.

Kia recalled 2007-2009 Sorentos in February because of risk of fire. The carmaker even warned people to park the SUVs away from buildings and other vehicles until getting them fixed.

Kia also issued other recalls for Sorentos for the risk of fire. Some years have multiple recalls:

  • 2015-2017 Kia Sorentos
  • 2012-2017 Kia Sorentos
  • 2017 Kia Sorentos
  • 2014-2015 Kia Sorentos

The proposed legal settlement -- $758 million -- covers:

  • 2011-2019 Hyundai Sonatas
  • 2013-2018 Hyundai Santa Fe Sports
  • 2019 Hyundai Santa Fes
  • 2014, 2015, 2018 and 2019 Hyundai Tucsons
  • 2011-2019 Kia Sportage, Sorento and Optima models with 2.0-liter and 2.4-liter GDI engines

The judge is expected to sign off on the settlement by the end of the year.

Action 9 emailed Kia but didn’t hear back in time for this report.

Statement from Kia:

Kia Motors America (KMA) recognizes that customer safety is paramount and is committed to addressing every thermal incident. All automobiles contain combustible materials and a vehicle fire may be the result of any number of complex factors, such as a manufacturing issue, inadequate maintenance, the installation of aftermarket parts, an improper repair, arson, or some other non-vehicle source, and must be carefully evaluated by a qualified and trained investigator or technician.

Claims involving damage to a Kia vehicle, including fires, are reviewed on a case-by-case basis. If a fire is determined to be the result of a Kia manufacturing issue, KMA will work with the customer to reach a satisfactory resolution to the matter.

In this instance, Kia was made aware of the incident by the customer and opened a case on December 1st. The case was escalated, and the customer was contacted again on December 2nd and requested to provide photos and the fire report, as well as insurance contact information. This information was received on December 3rd and KMA is currently reviewing to determine the next steps in the investigation. While we do not yet know its relevance to the incident, if any, we are aware that the vehicle had an oil change on the day of the fire. There are no applicable campaigns or recalls associated with this vehicle.

Kia customers with questions regarding their Kia vehicle should contact KMA’s Consumer Assistance.

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