What Kia, Hyundai settlement means for car owners

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Action 9 has followed mounting cases of Hyundai and Kia vehicles randomly catching on fire and injuring people.

[PAST COVERAGE: Auto safety group demands recall of 3 million Kia, Hyundai vehicles]

The carmakers agreed to settle a class-action lawsuit, which could result in a $750 million payout to customers.

More than four million cars and SUVs could be affected.

"I was just driving down the road, and I had both hands on the wheel, and I realized I had no power steering and, immediately, I went for the brake,” driver Michaela Fink said. “I didn't have any brakes and then (I) saw smoke everywhere."

She was driving a Kia Optima in Stallings.

"I started seeing flames and I thought, 'I'm about to die,'" Fink said.

Debi Morris said her Kia Soul wasn’t moving when the car burst into flames in front of her house.

"And all I could think about, ‘Was it was going to blow up?’" Morris said.

The Center for Auto Safety has received more than 230 complaints of Hyundais and Kias catching fire without being in a wreck.

CAS officials said that at least six people have been hurt in the fires, which prompted the agency to push the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to investigate.

CAS urged Hyundai and Kia to issue recalls and in January, the car companies did that.

Vehicles recalled:

  • 2011-2019 Hyundai Sonata
  • 2013-2018 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport
  • 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe
  • 2014, 2015, 2018 and 2019 Hyundai Tucson
  • 2011-2019 Kia Sportage, Sorento and Optima

*All with 2.0-liter and 2.4-liter GDI engines.

Customers sued the automakers the next month and in April, the NHTSA launched an investigation.

“We were pleased to see, finally, the federal government take these Kia and Hyundai fires seriously,” said Jason Levine, who is with CAS.

The lawsuit could also give customers lifetime warranties, free repairs and new software for their vehicles.

"I'm really glad,” Fink said. “I'm really glad that they're finally doing something about it."

Hyundai said in a statement: “This settlement acknowledges our sincere willingness to take care of customers impacted by issues with this engine’s performance."

Kia said in a statement: “This resolution is the result of good-faith efforts among all parties to resolve owner concerns."

If your vehicle is one of the ones on the list, you should get a notice in the mail.

There will, typically, be a settlement website with important dates.

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