DETROIT (NewsNation Now) — Kia is recalling nearly 295,000 vehicles in the U.S. because the engines can stall or catch fire.
The recall comes just a week after Kia and affiliated Korean automaker Hyundai were fined by the U.S. government for allegedly delaying recalls.
The recall covers certain 2012 and 2013 Sorento SUVs, 2012 through 2015 Forte and Forte Koup cars, and 2011 through 2013 Optima Hybrid cars. Also included are 2014 and 2015 Soul SUVs and 2012 Sportage SUVs.
Tamisha Roark experienced the defects first hand. Roark said her SUV stalled on a Georgia highway when her parents were on the way to say their final goodbyes to her grandmother.
Two weeks later, after getting the recalled engine repaired, smoke came out of the engine and the vehicle caught fire.
“It’s traumatizing. The fear that came over me because you know we already had the news from the day before,” Roark said. “So it’s like what now? I heard my sister screaming. Then I called my parents and they were just so shaken up. My mom was crying.”
Roark said her father had to use the emergency brakes to get the SUV to stop. Her parent’s barely made it out alive.
Roark believes the cars should be pulled off the roads all together.
Kia says in documents posted Saturday by the U.S. government that no manufacturing defect has been found, but it’s recalling the vehicles to mitigate any risk of fire.
The recall comes after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration began investigating Kia and Hyundai engine fires in 2019. The agency opened the probe after the nonprofit Center for Auto Safety filed a petition seeking the investigation. When the inquiry began, the agency said it had owner complaints of more than 3,100 fires, 103 injuries and one death.
Kia will notify owners starting Jan. 27. Dealers will inspect the engines for fuel or oil leaks and replace them if necessary. The company also is developing a knock sensor software update.
Last week, the NHTSA announced that Kia and Hyundai must pay $137 million in fines and for safety improvements because they moved too slowly to recall more than 1 million vehicles with engines that can fail. The fines resolve a three-year government probe into the companies’ behavior involving recalls of multiple models dating to the 2011 model year.
Kia must pay $27 million and invest $16 million on safety performance measures. Another $27 million payment will be deferred as long as Kia meets safety conditions, the NHTSA said.
Kia denied the U.S. allegations but said it wanted to avoid a protracted legal fight.
Engine failure and fire problems with Hyundais and Kias have plagued the companies for more than five years.
Check your vehicle’s recall status, here.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.