Kia to announce recall on tens of thousands of vehicles

Posted at 12:12 PM, Jan 16, 2019

SHARONVILLE, Ohio — Kia plans to recall tens of thousands of cars and SUVs after hundreds of its vehicles spontaneously caught on fire, the automaker told WCPO's Tampa, Florida, sister station WFTS late Tuesday.

For a Sharonville woman whose son died in in one of those car fires, the step is coming too late.

"There's not a day that goes by that I don't think about him," Carol Nash said.

She's still waiting for answers about how and why her son, Keith, burned to death nine months ago when he was sitting in her 2014 Kia Soul and it caught fire.

"I won't rest until I get answers and closure," Nash said.

The announcement from the auto giant comes after WFTS and the 9 On Your Side I-Team spent months reporting on hundreds of spontaneous Kia and Hyundai fires.

The recall plan, which is dated Jan. 11, calls for inspections to determine whether high-pressure fuel pumps were installed properly during engine recall replacements. Kia estimates the recall would involve more than 50,000 Kia Optimas, more than 17,000 Kia Sorentos and about 1,000 Kia Sportages.

"The remedy for the previous recall 17v224 may not have been properly performed in all cases by the Kia dealers," the company memo states. "In some cases, the high pressure fuel pipe may have been damaged, misaligned or improperly torqued during the engine replacement procedure, allowing fuel to leak increasing the risk of fire."

However, Nash's Soul is not among the recalled vehicles. She thinks it should be.

"You don't just keep making them and putting them out there," she said. "You just don't do that ... You have to make your products right."

A Kia spokesman said the company has yet to roll out its recall plan because it’s waiting for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s approval, which the automaker said has been delayed by the government shutdown. NHTSA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The plan the company shared with WFTS also states Kia "is not aware of any accidents or injuries as result of this issue."

READ: Kia's complete statement

But the I-Team has reported for months on concerns about Kia fuel pump leaks, arising from faulty work done during engine recall replacements. Keith Nash is the only known death to result from a Kia that spontaneously caught fire.

A Sharonville police report shows Nash's car was too badly burned to determine what caused the fire.

"I'm willing to go to Washington, if I have to myself, to sit in front of a hearing," Carol Nash said. "It won't be pleasant, but they're going to know who I am. They're going to know who my son was, and everybody else that is a victim of what has happened."

In October, a Congressional committee invited Kia to testify about the car fires. Executives refused the invitation, and with the new Congress there hasn't been any movement on new hearings.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in New York City has also reportedly launched an investigation into whether carmakers handled those engine recalls properly.

Spokesmen for both Kia and Hyundai have refused to comment on any possible federal investigations

But in November, mechanics and a fire investigator told a reporter that they suspect fuel pump leaks are igniting some of these fires.

Two separate Kia owners — one in North Carolina and the other in Louisiana — shared videos with WFTS that showed spewing fuel pumps just weeks after their Kia engines were replaced.

So far, drivers in 43 states have reported more than 250 Kia and Hyundai fires, according to The Center for Auto Safety.

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