Feds Expand Investigations into Hyundai and Kia Vehicles for Fire Risks
Federal safety investigators have expanded probes into Hyundai and Kia engine failures to include complaints about fires in the automakers’ vehicles. According to a USA Today news report, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) stated in a letter to Senator Bill Nelson of Florida that it has so far received 402 fire complaints with and without collisions.
Nelson as well as the Center for Auto Safety had asked if the agency was looking into the fire reports involving these vehicles. Deputy Administrator Heidi King informed Nelson in a letter that the agency had included non-collision fires in the engine failure probes. She stated in her letter that many who complained about engine failures in the vehicles also reported fires.
An Ongoing Investigation
In May 2017, the government initiated a probe into whether Hyundai and Kia moved quickly enough to recall more than 1.6 million vehicles due to problems with engine stalling. It is not clear how many fires occurred without collisions. Nelson told King earlier this month that his staff had counted at least 23 reports of spontaneous vehicle fires in Hyundai and Kia vehicles since 2014 in Florida alone.
The Center for Auto Safety found 120 fire complaints that did not involve collisions. Nelson cited media reports of cases where motorists had to exit their vehicles before they became engulfed in flames. Nelson urged NHTSA to “pick up the pace” of the investigation and said he plans to ask the agency to brief lawmakers on the investigation timeline.
Danger of Vehicle Fires
When auto defects lead to vehicle fires, the consequences can be catastrophic leading to horrific burn injuries or even fatalities. It is indeed fortunate that the drivers in cases where the Kia and Hyundai vehicles erupted into flames were able to exit and avoid major injuries. However, it is unacceptable that the automakers have not acted faster to issue a recall in this case, which encompasses all the affected vehicles. Automakers have a responsibility to caution consumers in a timely manner about such serious safety defects.
If you or a loved one has been injured as a result of a vehicle fire or engine stalling involving Hyundai or Kia vehicles, please contact an experienced auto defect lawyer who will conduct a thorough investigation and help you seek compensation for your injuries, damages and losses.