Hundreds of Kias and Hyundais have spontaneously caught on fire and safety advocates say the federal government needs to step in to issue a recall of the vehicles in question.
Lorinda Hixon says she was driving on the freeway when she heard a popping sound coming from her 2012 Kia Sorento. She saw smoke coming from her Kia so she pulled over. Within minutes, her Kia was in flames.
"Thank God, I just say thank God," said Hixon. "Thank God I got out of the vehicle and I’m here today."
Hixon is not alone. Hundreds of Kia Owners throughout the country have reported that their vehicles have spontaneously caught on fire.
Both Kia and Hyundai previously recalled more than a million cars for an engine defect, and it is these same cars that are now the ones catching fire.
However, the Center for Auto Safety believes this is a new issue that is unrelated to the previous engine defect and that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) needs to step in and demand a recall of the vehicles.
"What they [NHTSA] should be doing is opening into a new investigation into why Kias and Hyundais...are catching fire," said Jason Levine from the Center of Auto Safety. "NHTSA’s failing at making sure recalls are happening as quickly as they need to, as effectively as they need to and as often as they need to."
Both automobile makers have responded regarding the fires. Kia in a statement said: "No cause of recent fires has been determined to be the result of a defect."
Hyundai in a similar statement said that if it and NHTSA "find that additional remedies are warranted, we will take action."
However the statements are offering little comfort to those who experienced the fires.
"I just don’t want anyone to get hurt," said Hixon. "Or, God forbid, die."
Hixon is now driving a new car - and it is not a Kia.
Safety advocates recommend that if you own one of the Kias or Hyundais in question to carry a fire extinguisher in your car and if you smell something burning, to pull over and immediately exit the car.