— Kia Motors America, Inc. has faced a $185 million settlement over inflated mileage claims, a lawsuit over exploding gas tanks, and now a class-action lawsuit over an allegedly defective brake switch.
The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, claims Kia hid the defective brake switch in some models while acknowledging the defect in other vehicles.
Lead plaintiff William Precht purchased a new 2011 Kia Sportage and within a few years was having problems with the transmission. Precht says a Kia dealership said it could fix the problem but the repairs wouldn't be covered under warranty.
Kia ordered a brake light switch recall in May 2013 for its 2007-2010 Kia Rondo and Sportage, 2007-2011 Kia Sorento, 2007 Kia Sedona, 2010-2011 Kia Soul, and 2011 Kia Optima. However, Kia never recalled the 2011 Sportage.
The lawsuit alleges the same brake light switch was used in the 2011 Sportage, 2008-2010 Optima and 2008-2011 Sedona, vehicles not included in the May 2013 recall.
Mr. Precht claims Kia expanded the recall in November 2013 but failed to let consumers know about the expansion. Precht further alleges the brake light switch typically fails shortly after the warranty expires and that Kia is well aware of the timing.
In April 2013, CarComplaints.com described the recalled vehicles as having a "brake light switch from hell" because of the numerous problems caused by the defective switch.
Kia itself admitted in 2013 the defective switch in the recalled cars could:
1. Cause the brake lights to fail when the brake pedal is pressed.
2. Cause the cruise control to stay on even when you press the brake pedal.
3. Cause problems with the push-button start feature.
4. Cause problems with the brake-transmission shift interlock feature preventing the shifter from being moved out of the "Park" position.
5. Cause the electronic stability control malfunction light to activate when it shouldn't.