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Thousands of Non-Collision Fires Lead to Product Safety Probe of Kia and Hyundai

car on fire

Traffic safety is a dangerous enough problem with a properly working car.  There are thousands of car accidents every day, many of which lead to serious injury or death, simply due to driver negligence or other hazards such as unsafe weather.  When automobile manufacturers release unsafe vehicles onto the public, they make matters even worse.  A U.S. safety agency recently opened an investigation into vehicles manufactured by two major auto companies after receiving complaints regarding a series of inexplicable fires involving their cars.  Continue reading for details about the safety probe, and contact a seasoned personal injury lawyer if you’ve been injured by a defective automobile in New Jersey.

Federal safety agency investigates Kia and Hyundai after thousands of unexpected car fires

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently announced that it has opened investigations into Hyundai and its affiliate Kia after drivers reported unexpected fires while operating certain of their car models.  NHTSA received reports of thousands of fires resulting in over 100 injuries and at least one death. 

The Center for Auto Safety, a consumer advocacy group, originated the investigation, collecting the data and petitioning NHTSA to conduct an investigation in June and July 2018.  NHTSA finally opened its investigation at the end of March 2019.  The cars included in the scope of the investigation are Hyundai Sonata and Santa Fe models from years 2011 to 2014, Kia’s Optima and Sorento models from years 2011 to 2014, and Kia’s Soul model from years 2010-2015.  The investigation covers nearly 3 million vehicles manufactured and distributed by the automobile giants.           

Between the agency and the manufacturers, there have been 3,125 reports of fires that were not sparked by a collision, and NHTSA has recorded at least one resulting fatality.  The agency intends to investigate “the scope, frequency, and potential safety-related consequences of alleged defects” concerning “non-collision” fires in the listed vehicles.   Safety experts analyzed insurance records and theorize the problem is related to the 2-liter and 2.4-liter “Theta II” engines, both of which were correlated with higher claim rates in the Hyundai and Kia models.

Both Kia and Hyundai have issued several recalls since 2015 in connection with engine failure and fires.  NHTSA emphasized that its investigation includes but is not limited to engine components and that they will explore whether other vehicle parts are contributing to the fires.  If these car manufacturers have been distributing dangerously defective cars to unwitting consumers, they must be held liable for any injury their products cause. 

If you or someone you love has been hurt by a defective product in New Jersey, find out whether you can file a claim for money damages by contacting the experienced New Jersey personal injury lawyer Andrew R. Jacobs for a free consultation at 973-532-9681.

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