— Hyundai and Kia engine fires should be investigated, according to a petition filed with the government by the Center for Auto Safety (CAS).
According to the safety organization, more than two million 2011-2014 Kia Sorento, Kia Optima, Hyundai Santa Fe and Hyundai Sonata vehicles may be at risk from engine fires caused by melted wires. In addition, complaints filed by owners say all the fires popped up even though no collisions occurred.
The petition was filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) after more than 100 complaints were filed with the government about non-collision engine fires. CAS says more than 200 complaints have been filed alleging smoke and burning odors caused by melted wires in the engine compartments.
The Center says the pattern of fires is troubling because the same model years are involved and three of the models were manufactured at the same assembly plant.
The 2011-2014 Kia Sorento, 2011-2014 Kia Optima and the 2011-2014 Hyundai Santa Fe were all built in West Point, Georgia. The 2011-2014 Hyundai Sonata cars were manufactured in Montgomery, Alabama.
The Center wants NHTSA to investigate any possible connection between the engine fires and the facilities where the vehicles were built. Additionally, federal safety investigators should verify suppliers didn't provide Hyundai and Kia with faulty parts.
CAS says the data shows 47 engine fires have occurred in 2011-2014 Hyundai Sonatas, 33 fires have been reported in 2011-2014 Kia Optimas, 30 fires have allegedly occurred in 2011-2014 Kia Sorentos and 10 non-collision fires have been reported about 2011-2014 Hyundai Santa Fe vehicles.
Any modern vehicle can catch fire from electrical current constantly flowing through the wiring and computerized systems, but CAS says the number of Hyundai and Kia engine fires far outweigh competitor vehicles.
"More specifically, as of June 7, 2018, a review of all the reported cases to NHTSA of non-collision related fires involving similar class and size vehicles, the Center found 22 reported cases in competitor vehicles as opposed to 120 for the Kia and Hyundai models." - Center for Auto Safety
Two of those cases came from Hyundai Santa Fe and Sonata owners.
"Car was driven about 10 miles and then parked inside an attached garage. The ignition was turned off and key removed from vehicle. After approximately 1 hour had passed the car started on fire. Flames were visible behind the front right headlight and front right wheel. The fire caused significant damage to the garage and home." - 2011 Hyundai Santa Fe owner / Big Rapids, Michigan
"Walked out of store I had been shopping in for over an hour and car was in flames. The fire investigator explained it as an electrical short that started at the main engine wire harness and melted the tubing/wiring all through the engine compartment down near passenger headlight and the melting wires/tubing/rubber dripped and ignited on a pile of leaves underneath the car in the parking space." - 2012 Hyundai Sonata owner / Matthews, North Carolina
NHTSA has 120 days to respond to the petition, so CarComplaints.com will update our website with the results.