Kias Keep Catching Fire As NHTSA Investigates

An apparent problem with the Theta II engines in certain Hyundais and Kias has reportedly ensnared another motorist.

According to local news affiliate NBC 5 in the Dallas/Fort Worth area of northern Texas, Linda Creech was driving her 2014 Kia Soul down the freeway last October with her son on board when another driver flagged her down. Both pulled over and saw flames emanating from under her vehicle. So they ran, “And the next thing the car just exploded,” Creech told NBC 5. “Like a Mission Impossible movie without Tom Cruise.”

It’s the second such incident reported by the same station, which previously reported how one Amy McDade’s 2013 Kia Optima Hybrid was similarly engulfed in flames. Both drivers say they had recently had their cars in for service, and claim the manufacturer isn’t doing enough to address the issue.

“I open my door to get out and there were flames all underneath the car,” said McDade “I could have burned alive in that car.”

And they’re apparently not alone. Just last month we brought you a report from the Center for Auto Safety, which has petitioned the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to investigate “a frighteningly large number” of Hyundais and Kias “manufactured at the same time catching fire.” The Center says there have been some 120 complaints filed with the NHTSA over the same issue, and another 229 reports of melted wires, smoke, and burning odors.

According to the administration, Hyundai filed a Defect Information Report in September 2015 regarding certain Theta II-powered vehicles, noting manufacturing debris. Last March, Kia filed another, concerning over 600,000 examples of the 2011-14 Optima, 2012-14 Sorento, and 2011-13 Sportage – all powered by the same Theta II engine. Kia described the same issue as its sister company, and a problem with “a machining process causing an uneven surface roughness which could restrict oil flow within the engine.”

McDade’s Optima would ostensibly have been covered by the latter recall, but not Creech’s Soul. “You are leaving your customers high and dry. What you are doing is so wrong,” demanded Creech. “Acknowledge it and take care of it and do something right by the people who have had a problem.”

At least one federal official has taken notice. “We have asked NHTSA to get on the stick and find out what is the problem,” said Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL), employing aviation terminology – Nelson is one of two federal lawmakers to have flown on the Space Shuttle with NASA. According to NBC 5, the NHTSA says it “will not hesitate to formally initiate a separate safety defect investigation and take action as warranted and based upon the data.”

  • Christian

    Why is their always a slope, when you see a Kia on a bridge ?

    • Perry F. Bruns

      We can’t call it that anymore.

  • Six_Tymes

    Catching up to Tesla.

    As consumers, what should we do, bring steaks and veggies with us is in our cars to barbecue with if we own these cars?

    • brn

      You don’t want those fumes and chemicals in your food.

      • Six_Tymes


  • charlotteharry57

    This is personally scary, because my next door neighbors have 2 Theta II 2016 Kias that they park overnight right next to my bedroom. Both sound like buckets of bolts when running. And both are beaten to death, driven easily 30K miles per year each. They never stop driving except at night…

    • DanSemering

      Get insurance …+ a fire hose near your bed

  • TheBelltower

    It’s a KIA. A leopard can’t shed its spots.

  • disqus_6YPfWl1zlL

    You sure got that right. But seriously there are too many variables for this article to really hit the spot. Id like to see a video from start to finish.

  • Schroeder

    My wife has 14 Soul and I have a 16 Soul. She had to take hers into the shop not long ago because the wire harness for her headlight melted. Sounds like this is going to be a major problem… What should owners be doing???

  • LT

    There goes someone’s car value right out the window.

  • LT

    Why do you even bother?

  • Althea Later

    I recently saw a burnt up Optima on the side of the highway on Long Island… and it wasn’t in a crash…. then, just a week later another Optima burnt up while parked in a local supermarket parking lot. Not a coincidence!!!!

  • Althea Later

    I really hope you are being sarcastic!

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