Car fire mystery: Kia customers concerned over engine fires

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration lists more than 160 complaints on the 2012 Kia Sorento dealing with engine problems. Owners say their engines caught fire without warning (Courtesy: Barb Myers)

Barb Myers is thankful her elderly mother is still alive, after her 2012 Kia Sorento went up in flames. Myers' mother was behind the wheel just seconds before the fire.

She now wants to send out a major warning about problems with the vehicle. ABC 6/FOX28 has discovered this is not the first time something like this has happened.

"I could've lost my husband, my kids, anything and nobodies being held responsible and nobodies voicing anything to protect these other people," said Myers.

Barb Myers said she is concerned, and for good reason. Her SUV went up in flames, with no warning.

"I haven't even made my first payment on it yet," said Myers.

When she bought the 2012 Kia Sorento this past July, she was told about a vehicle recall. An issue with the engine that could possibly lead to it stalling out. But nothing about the engine possibly catching fire.

"She said while she was driving, she heard a loud noise. The oil light came on and the engine stalled and smoke started coming out. A gentleman said, you need to call 911, cause your car just burst into flames," Myers said.

It turns out, this isn't the first time a scene like this has played out. A similar incident in Florida was caught on video; that story made national headlines. A woman was driving down the interstate, unaware the vehicle she was driving was on fire. Thankfully, she was able to make it out before the Kia Sorento totally went up in flames.

A quick web search highlights other vehicles that appear to burst into flames with no warning.

"Kia's not saying anything about this so, all the innocent people that own these cars are suffering," said Myers.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration lists more than 160 complaints on the 2012 Kia Sorento dealing with engine problems. This past June, the consumer watchdog group Center for Auto Safety filed a formal petition with the NHTSA, pushing for an investigation into numerous complaints of spontaneous fires involving the Sorento along with other Kia vehicles that were unrelated to crashes.

ABC 6/FOX 28 contacted Kia about concerns over the Sorento vehicle, and they released the following statement:

Kia Motors America (KMA) works directly with customers and will provide inspection results directly to those customers.
If it is determined that a fire is the result of a manufacturing-related issue, KMA will work with customers to address any costs or expenses they may incur. KMA cannot comment on the specific business practices of individual insurance companies, however, generally speaking most perform their own investigations and actively seek responsible third parties to indemnify them for any recoverable losses.
KMA encourages customers to remedy any open recall as quickly as possible, including certain 2011- 2014 model year Sorento and Optima vehicles identified in June of 2017 (NHTSA Recall Number 17V- 224) by taking their vehicle to the nearest Kia dealership.
If a recall is unable to be remedied immediately, KMA will provide alternate transportation at no cost to the customer until their vehicle is repaired.
Kia customers with questions regarding their Kia vehicle should contact KMA's Consumer Assistance Center directly at 1-800-333-4542 (4Kia).

The company did not address worries over the fires and so far, have not issued a recall over this issue.

Myers for one told FOX28 that she cannot understand why the vehicles are on the streets.

"You know, my mom could have been in that car. I could have lost my mom in this," said Myers.

Myers said that she was able to get a new vehicle thanks to her insurance coverage.

It is always important to know the safety status of your vehicle. To find out if your car is under recall you can check the Safer Cars website here.

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