Kia acknowledges gas tanks swelling suddenly, offers free fix

CHARLOTTE — Ten drivers now say the gas tanks on their cars swelled suddenly.

Eight involve Kia K5 models. The other two involve the K5′s cousin, the Hyundai Sonata.

Action 9′s Jason Stoogenke was one of the first reporters in the country to report on this issue.

Most of the drivers say it started with a loud noise. “I hear a bang,” Alfrida Bryant told Stoogenke.

They say their dealerships told them the gas tank had expanded. “‘Your gas tank expanded and you’re lucky you made it here safely,’” Brittany Kelley says her dealer told her.


Many say the tanks expanded so much the rear seat came off. “The whole backseat just completely had popped up,” Justice Padley said.

“What if I had had my little baby in the backseat? That’s where she rides,” Melissa Washington asked.

In most cases, the company gave the drivers a loaner or rental, and -- after Action 9 or its sister station in Orlando got involved -- some offered to buy back their cars, even at top dollar.

But as for the bigger question: why this keeps happening? The companies wouldn’t say.

But then a driver, John Tsouris, showed Stoogenke a letter from Kia, acknowledging the issue and offering a free fix.

It is a voluntary service campaign, not a recall, but the impact on drivers is basically the same. It covers certain K5s. It recognizes point blank they “may experience fuel tank swelling.” It says the problem is with a certain valve that pressurized air flows into the gas tank.

“Nobody I’ve spoken with has ever heard of that before,” said Tsouris, who says he used to live in North Carolina. Tsouris says he’s an engineer who works on sensors for vehicles. He just hopes the fix solves the problem once and for all.

If you have a 2021-24 K5, contact your dealer to see if your vehicle qualifies. If so, it’ll update the software and, if necessary, replace the valve or gas tank. Again, it is free.

Stoogenke asked Hyundai if it has a similar program for drivers of those vehicles but did not hear back in time for this report.

VIDEO: Kia bursts into flames moments after driver gets out, days after recall