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.”