Action 9

‘I’m furious’: Consumer claims vehicle recall service not enough to keep family safe

ORLANDO, Fla. — Recent safety recalls involving Kias and Hyundais add to a long list of warnings Action 9 has seen over the past decade about certain models catching fire.

Consumer reporter Jeff Deal spoke with a family that fears putting their loved ones in their Hyundai, claiming the recall repair on their Kona hasn’t gone far enough.

“My car is on fire.” Ronni Rivera of central Florida can be heard on the video she took of her Kia Sorrento up in flames. Rivera felt lucky to be alive. “I heard a strange noise and got out. God is good.”

Jordan Carlton lost his life after suffering severe burns when the Kia Soul he rented caught fire while driving down the road.

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Over the past decade, Kia and Hyundai have been plagued with recalls and incidents involving vehicle fires.

“That’s the actual label off the vacuum,” Thomas Belisle said while holding a charred sticker he claims he found near the engine on his fiancé's 2019 Hyundai Kona. “I’m furious that they put our safety in jeopardy.”

The car is part of a recall issued last year warning that bad oil rings in the engine could cause severe damage, leading the vehicle to stall and possibly ignite.

Belisle feels the recall service wasn’t properly done because the Kona still consumes excessive oil, which according to the safety recall report can be a sign of a defective engine.

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“How are we supposed to put ourselves, children or anybody else in it and feel comfortable?” Belisle asked.

According to The Center for Auto Safety, there have been more than 8 million Kia and Hyundai recall notices issued since 2010 involving engine problems or fire risks. That number includes recent recalls covering certain models of Kia Tellurides and Hyundai Palisades where a faulty tow hitch could ignite.

“We continue to receive a lot of complaints not just regarding the fires, but regarding engine failures that were behind a lot of the fires.” Michael Brooks with The Center for Auto Safety said while Kia and Hyundai have made some strides in recent years to address the issues, they could be doing more to help consumers, particularly those with later-model vehicles that could wind up paying for new engines out-of-pocket.

“So many consumers who have these vehicles and the engines are just failing, and they’re left effectively without a vehicle. It’s a consumer nightmare in that respect,” Brooks said.

Action 9 reached out to Hyundai and Kia. Hyundai Motor America said nothing is more important than the safety and security of their customers; that they’ve taken proactive steps to address engine problems, including warranty extensions and improvements in manufacturing; and they’ve enhanced customer service.

Hyundai also said they’re reviewing Belisle’s issues.

Belisle says the car manufacturer hasn’t done enough to keep his family safe, and thinks their Kona should at least get a new engine as the recall allows in certain cases.

“They’re definitely just brushing it under the rug,” Belisle said.

New cars are not allowed to be sold if they have open recalls, but used cars are a different story. So, make sure you check the vehicle’s identification number on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s website before you buy.

Hyundai Motor America statement:

Nothing is more important than the safety and security of Hyundai customers. We have taken numerous proactive steps to address engine problems with our vehicles, including several recalls, engine monitoring technology software updates, substantial warranty extensions and numerous improvements to our engine manufacturing. We have enhanced our customer service efforts by adding staff and resources to care for every impacted customer. We have launched and are promoting an online resource for recalls and software updates,

Jeff Deal

Jeff Deal,

I joined the Eyewitness News team as a reporter in 2006.