Kia and Hyundai CEOs refuse to testify in front of U.S. Senators about some of the companies’ cars catching fire.
You might remember our on-going 5 On Your Side Investigation showing numerous car fires from around the country including our area where Kia's burst into flames while drivers were in their cars.
“I'm 18. I have a nice car. I worked really hard for it,” said Jakob Moyer. He thought his 2013 Kia Optima was a hot buyback in August. “I've done so much to get to that point (of owning a car)," he said. He just didn't know how hot it really was.
Moyer said he heard some knocking in the engine and on September 11 he and his friend took the car back to the dealer to get it fixed. “At that point, we got the car running again and it was knocking still," Moyer said.
He said mechanics ran a Kia test and his car passed, yet the noise was still there. He said his options on the Optima at that point were limited.
"Their words were Kia will not replace the motor until it fails the test or the motor blows,” Moyer said.
So, he started driving it home. He was a couple of blocks from his house when, all of a sudden, he noticed a car racing toward him from behind. “I see my buddy fly up, left lane, pass me, swerve me off the road. He's yelling, 'Get out of the car! It's on fire!'"
Moyer pulled over, stunned. “I popped the hood and at that point, that's when we had a fire just pouring out,” said Moyer.
Oil was leaking all over the place. There were trails left behind and large spots dotted the road.
After the fire calmed down a bit, Moyer grabbed his phone and captured some of the flames on video.
The seriousness of what just happened hit him.
"I looked at my mom and I said, 'Hey, I could have died today,” Moyer said. He never saw the flames while he was driving and that's scary. "I could have died if my best friend wouldn't have been following me,” said Moyer.
He told us he contacted Kia about the fire to see what the company could do.
Moyer said they told him they would cover costs to repair the car or he could take eight-grand. “$8,000 doesn't even cover my loan,” said Moyer.
Here’s a statement from Kia about Moyer’s car:
All automobiles contain combustible materials and a vehicle fire may be the result of any number of complex factors, including a manufacturing issue, inadequate maintenance, the installation of aftermarket parts, an improper repair, arson, or some other non-vehicle source, and must be carefully evaluated by a qualified and trained investigator or technician.
In this instance, the vehicle was subject to a recall and the recall repair was completed prior to the customer’s purchase of the vehicle. Following the incident, and in an effort to provide the customer with a timely and satisfactory resolution, KMA offered to repair or repurchase the vehicle. The customer elected to have the vehicle repaired and those repairs are currently underway.
KMA encourages customers to remedy any open recall as quickly as possible, including certain 20112014 model year Sorento and Optima vehicles identified in June of 2017 (NHTSA Recall Number 17V224) 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 or another satisfactory resolution is determined.
Kia customers with questions regarding their Kia vehicle should contact KMA’s Consumer Assistance Center directly at 1-800-333-4542 (4Kia).
After his car fire, Moyer then found out about other Kia's that have caught fire across the country and the numerous complaints about car fires related to Optima's.
Now that the CEOs of Kia and Hyundai will not testify in front of the Senate panel, he told us he's beyond angry and wants members of Congress to continue to fight for answers. "I hope they tell Kia, 'Hey, we understand it's a recall. We understand how much money goes into recalls. You need to fix the problem.'"
It's the main reason he's stepping forward now. "To make sure Kia doesn't let this happen again,” Moyer said.
5 On Your Side Investigators received statements from Kia and Hyundai about the CEOs not testifying at the hearing:
Kia Motors America Statement Regarding Congressional Committee Meeting:
The safety of our customers is Kia’s top priority. Kia has and will continue to work with both the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the primary government automotive regulator, as well as Congress. We take seriously and share the concerns of Chairman Thune and Ranking Member Nelson regarding the safety of all passenger vehicles. We have openly shared information and data with NHTSA and the Committee and will continue to answer their questions in a full and transparent manner. To gain a full understanding of this industry-wide matter we have respectfully requested the Committee consider a more comprehensive review of non-collision fires among all automakers. Non-collision fires are not limited to Kia vehicles as research from the Highway Loss Data Institute, an independent, nonprofit research organization shows.
To quickly and effectively address non-collision fire incidents, KMA is using in-house and third-party fireinvestigation companies and has engaged an independent senior fire expert to evaluate the results of such fire event investigations and is consulting with a recent former head of NHTSA’s Office of Defects Investigation to evaluate the organization’s response to these incidents. We are cooperating with both NHTSA and the Committee to analyze all relevant information associated with any fire or other safetyrelated matters and will take any necessary corrective action in a timely manner.
KMA encourages customers to remedy any open recalls as quickly as possible, including certain 20112014 model year Sorento and Optima vehicles identified in June of 2017 (NHTSA Recall Number 17V224) by taking their vehicle to the nearest Kia dealership. Additional information about open recalls may be found by visiting https://www.kia.com/us/en/content/owners/safety-recall or through www.safercar.gov. 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 or another satisfactory resolution is determined.
Owners are encouraged to contact Kia Consumer Affairs at 800-333-4542 with any questions or concerns related to this matter.
Nothing is more important than the safety and security of Hyundai customers. Hyundai takes this matter very seriously, and fully appreciates the concerns of the Senate Commerce, Science & Transportation Committee including those of the Chairman and Ranking Member. We have engaged in frequent, open and transparent dialogue with Committee staff on a bipartisan basis, and unequivocally share the Committee’s goal of assuring the safety of our vehicles. Hyundai welcomes a more comprehensive review of non-collision fires among all automakers as recent research published by the Highway Loss Data Institute demonstrates that these incidences are not limited to Hyundai vehicles.
In close coordination with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Hyundai has recalled more than one million vehicles to address a manufacturing issue that could lead to engine failure and in certain circumstances an engine fire. In the rare case of an engine fire, Hyundai takes immediate action to determine and address the cause, and take care of the customer involved.
To date, these recalls have completion rates of 86 and 72 percent respectively, versus an industry average of 69 percent for recalled engines1. Hyundai is working diligently to contact customers who have not had the recall completed, including through traditional mailings, digital correspondence, owner website alerts and in-vehicle notification.
Hyundai has launched and is promoting an online resource for the engine recalls, www.HyundaiEngineInfo.com [hyundaiengineinfo.com] , to educate affected customers about the issue, how to have the recall campaign completed on their vehicle or have their vehicle inspected, and symptoms to watch and listen for in their vehicle. We also have enhanced our customer service response for affected vehicles by adding staff and resources so that we can more quickly address customer questions and concerns.
5 On Your Side Investigators will stay on top of the developments with the car fire problems.