‘Like a bomb went off’: Drivers believe gas tanks on certain Kia models expand suddenly

CHARLOTTE — Alfrida Bryant says she was driving her 2023 Kia K5.

“I hear a bang,” she told Action 9′s Jason Stoogenke. “It basically sounded like an explosion, like a bomb went off, and then it kind of shook the car.”

She says when she finally had a chance to look, she realized the rear seat coming up.

She believes the gas tank -- which is under the backseat -- expanded for some reason. So much so, it made the seat pop up.

John Laukaitis also owns a 2023 K5.

“Heard a huge bang in the car, boom, like an explosion,” he said. “The sound was so loud it shook my car. I could feel it in my chest.”

He says the dealership couldn’t find anything wrong with it at first. He says he drove off the lot, started hearing more strange sounds, saw his entire backseat coming off too, and took the car back to the shop. “Told me that apparently the fuel tank had swelled along with the fuel pump and blew and that’s ultimately what that explosion was,” he said.

Then there’s Brittany Kelley and her 2022 K5.

She says her children were in the backseat and that her dealer told her, “Your gas tank expanded and you’re lucky you made it here safely. Your car is no longer safe to drive.”

She says the dealer later sent her an email, saying its “shop foreman believes that the PCV valve failed due to a defect of the gas tank. The tank expanded and caused the PCV valve to lock shut.”

The dealer also wrote a message to Kia, saying it “found damage under the seat and the fuel pump cover bent.”

All three vehicles were fairly new. But to be fair, the owners say they did have their share of miles.

Bryant told Stoogenke hers had roughly 85,000, which she admits is a lot for a car only about a year old. “I’ve been to the beach, I’ve been to New Jersey, I’ve been to Florida, I’ve been to the Canadian border, I’ve been everywhere,” she said.

Kelley says hers had about 72,000.

Laukaitis says his had around 48,000.

“I just hope ultimately Kia does the right thing by me and by their customers,” Laukaitis said.

“I still love Kia and I still may even get into Kia, but I want that car. I paid for that car for a reason,” Bryant said.

Stoogenke exchanged emails with Kia about this issue. He was still waiting for an official statement for this report. In the meantime, the company offered to buy back or replace two of the vehicles so far. He’s seeing what it decides about the third.

If this happens to you:

- File a complaint with NHTSA

- If you spend any money on repairs, keep the receipts in case you’re able to get money back later

- Tell the dealer, Kia

-Contact Action 9

(WATCH BELOW: $1K in items stolen from University City business after stolen Kia drives into it)

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