PASCO COUNTY, Fla. – Drivers continue to share stories of scary moments and tight getaways as there are more reports of Kia Souls catching fire.
New complaints led I-Team Investigator Jackie Callaway to wonder why some vehicles were not included in the automaker’s previous recalls for engine fire risks.
Brek Bagdley says his 2015 Kia Soul went up in flames when he rolled down I-75 north in Hernando County last December. He said the fire destroyed the entire vehicle in minutes.
“I just threw my cell phone out the window and started throwing things out of the car,” Badgley said.
In April 2019 Kia recalled nearly 380,000 Kia souls made between 2012 and 2016 because of a defect that they say could cause a fire. We checked Brek’s VIN and found that his soul was not in that recall.
The I-Team discovered that not every soul made during these years was taken off the streets. Kia says that’s because vehicles can have different equipment even in the same model year.
Shelly Parks’ 2015 Kia Soul was among those that were not recalled. Parks says it caught fire while driving near Columbus, Ohio last summer.
“We hear someone screaming fire and when we noticed something, fire came out from under the car,” said Parks.
She told the I-Team that the car was still stalling when she and her friend jumped out.
“I saw the car roll past me in flames.”
The I-Team also found that Kia Souls caught fire in 2018, according to three reports filed with federal agencies. Kia reports that these soul fires are rare and can be caused by a number of factors not related to engine failures.
In August, 34-year-old Jordan Carlton died of injuries a year after his rented Kia Soul in 2019 went up in flames while driving down a Hawaiian freeway. There was no recall for this soul.
In January, after the I-Team started asking questions about Badgley’s soul fire, Kia sent one of their engineers to examine the vehicle. In a statement, the automaker states: “… The likely source of the fire was the lack of oil in the engine system …”
ABC Action News asked fire expert Rich Meier to examine the car. Meier was hired as an expert by lawyers arguing against Kia but is not involved in Brek’s case. Meier says he attributed the source of the fire to a loose connection on the high-pressure fuel system.
“I’ve never found such a loose connection,” he said.
Meier closed the loose-fitting cause with a fuel leak that started the fire.
“The fact that this is loose leads me to conclude that it is most likely a fuel leak coming from the high pressure line.”
In 2018, I-Team discovered leaks in the same high pressure fuel system that started fires in some Kias and Hyundais caused by faulty engine recall work.
These leaks later resulted in Kia and Hyundai recalling more than a million vehicles. To date, however, Kia Souls have not been recalled due to fuel leak problems. The only recently recalled soul had another fire hazard defect.
The I-Team revealed that Kia filed a service bulletin with federal agencies in 2019. It advises mechanics to take “special precautions” when servicing Kia souls with a GDI system and advises mechanics to replace certain parts and warns that this cannot be done in fuel leaks. “
We asked Kia why they sent the leak risk bulletin warning but didn’t issue a recall for the problem. In a statement emailed, Kia says the bulletins “instruct dealers to perform a repair and remind them of important safety issues”.
The automaker says not every problem rises to recall levels “because injuries can be caused by any number of non-vehicle sources, an injury without identifying a vehicle fault, or a defect that does not occur in more than a single vehicle, does not trigger a recall. “
Kia also said it will initiate recalls as soon as a defect is discovered. Meanwhile, federal class-action lawsuits involving fires from 2012 to 2016 are pending against Kia Souls.
In another case, Jordan Carlton’s family is suing both Kia and the rental company. This process is now scheduled for May 2021.