Fire Hazard Warning: Kia Sorento/Optima & Hyundai Sonata

The Center for Auto Safety—the nation’s premier independent non-profit consumer advocacy organization dedicated to improving vehicle safety, quality, and fuel economy—has petitioned the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to investigate the 2011-2014 Kia Sorento, Kia Optima, Hyundai Sonata, and Hyundai Santa Fe as they may present a fire hazard. There have been more than 100 consumer complaints of non-collision fires submitted to NHTSA regarding these vehicles and 200 complaints of melted wires in the engine bay, smoke, and burning odors. These complaints reveal a frighteningly large number of vehicles manufactured at the same time catching fire. Altogether, more than 2.2 million of these vehicles were manufactured during model years 2011-2014.

The 2011-2014 Kia Sorento and Optima, as well as the 2011-2014 Hyundai Santa Fe, were all manufactured at the same facility, Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia (KMMG) in West Point, Georgia. The Hyundai Sonata vehicles were made in Montgomery, Alabama. An important question is whether these commonalities indicate potential flaws in the manufacturing process that is worthy of immediate investigation, not only into the vehicles but the oversight and safety processes at these facilities. In the alternative, supplier error may be responsible.

“Unfortunately, most, if not all, auto manufacturers occasionally produce vehicles that catch fire, even when not involved in a collision,” said Jason Levine, Executive Director of the Center. “However, when these Kia and Hyundai vehicles are compared to other similar vehicles that were manufactured at the same time, there is enough of a statistical disparity to suggest a systemic issue that NHTSA must investigate and seek a repair remedy as soon as possible.”

Every week brings more instances of these dangerous fire and fire conditions to light. Based on the number of complaints and the level of risk from non-collision car fires, it is reasonable to conclude that more Kias and Hyundais will catch on fire, leading to fatalities or serious injuries—if they have not done so already. Petitions of this type to NHTSA require a formal response within 120 days. In the meantime, the Center will continue to work to inform the public of the fire risk these vehicles present and the need for Kia and Hyundai to recall and repair them as quickly as possible.

Read the Center’s petition to NHTSA to investigate the above listed vehicles here.

10 thoughts on “Fire Hazard Warning: Kia Sorento/Optima & Hyundai Sonata”

  1. My 2015 Hyundai Sonata caught fire the second week into Jan. 2020, and just two days after being serviced at a certified Hyundai dealership (received oil change, valve cover gasket replacement, and recall work). I’m still reeling from this happening and am thankful the fire began after I parked and exited the car. Am now trying to make sense of this and looking online for answers, only to discover these fires have been going on for a while among Kia and Hyundai cars (2011-onward). Wow. And obviously whatever recall work my car had done that day didn’t fix the problem – understatement of the new year.

    • You may have a case for Lemon Law–in which Hyundai has to buy back the car. We’re glad you are safe.

  2. I saw a news program where a 2019 Kia Soul caught fire, the woman was able to escape while the driver was burned over 80% of his body. I don’t think they have fixed the problem. I had a 2019 Soul, and it has been my favorite car. After that news report Itraded it in. I will not own another Kia.

  3. I owned a 2013 Kia Sorento engine blow at 81K and Kia refused to take care of problem and accoused me for engine problem was never fixed I had to let the bank take it.

  4. I just recently had the engine replaced under warranty for excessive oil consumption on a 2011 Sonata. Wonder if they made it better or if it’s a fire hazard? Any info on what is causing the fires?

  5. I’m wondering if this includes Hybrids. We have a 2011 Kia Optima Hybrid made in Korea and it has been a wonderful car. No repairs at all so far.

  6. I own a 2011 Kia Sorento and have had numerous problems with my car – mostly electrical (driver’s door locks on its own, driver’s door window wouldn’t go up or down, the cruise control stopped working and when my husband changed the battery, surprise – the cruise control now works. They replaced the gas door 7 times while under warranty and then said they couldn’t do it anymore because it was no longer under the original warranty). The dealership where I bought the car wasn’t any help whatsoever even when it was under warranty. I will not buy a Kia again.

  7. I have a friend with a ’12 Hyundai Sonata that the engine caught fire on! My mother owns a ’16 Sorento and while it was not in the initial investigation, I have already seen on the web where two of these caught fire and burned. She is scared to even drive hers!

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