North Texas

Another Driver Says Her Kia Went Up in Flames

Another driver has come forward about her Kia going up in flames. The woman says her Kia engine exploded, leaving her with no car and no help from the carmaker.  

It happened in May to Melissa Markoutsis.

She said the engine of her 2012 Kia Soul exploded. Her car began spewing thick black smoke, leaving her trapped in between a barrier wall and two big rigs.

"It was terrifying. I thought I was going to die," she said.

She survived, but said her car was dead on arrival at the Kia dealership, where the culprit was quickly identified: A hole in the engine.

"They came out and told me I have catastrophic engine failure. Essentially, there is a hole in your engine right now," Markoutsis explained.

The fix: A $6,500 new engine

"I don't want a new engine from Kia. I don't want a Kia car," she said.

We've also heard from two North Texas woman who said they're lucky to be alive.

They both said they were driving their Kias when another driver started flagging them down.

Next thing they knew, they said their Kias were engulfed in flames.

It's a brand name previously making headlines for similar problems, prompting a recall of more than one million Kias and Hyundais, which are owned by the Hyundai Motor Group, for a different engine defect last June.

But Markoutsis' car is not part of that recall.

"This is not a coincidence," she said. "You're saying there's a problem. You've recalled all these other cars. Well, there's other ones out on the market. I am terrified someone is going to die."

Consumer group Center for Auto Safety agrees, renewing its push for an expanded recall of 2.9 million  Kias and Hyundai's due to a fire hazard.

This comes after more than 220 drivers told the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Center that it happened to them -- Non-collision fires erupting in Kias and Hyundais.

It's the kind of incidents that we've been reporting on for months, cars traveling at high speeds, on fire. Other drivers frantically warning the people inside.

One dad said he barely made it out of his burning Hyundai, along with his kids in the back seat.

In response to those reports, Kia said: "...No cause of recent fires has been determined to be the result of a defect..."

Hyundai said it "actively monitors and evaluates potential safety concerns with all its vehicles."

But Markoutsis said the clock is ticking.

"I keep asking myself, 'how many people does this need to happen to before justice is served?'" she said.

She has a lot of questions as she waits, and pays for a car that sits, going on five months now, in a dealership parking lot.

The carmaker offered to pay $3,000, about half of Markoutsis' repairs. But she declined.

When our sister station in Chicago reached out to Kia, Markoutsis said Kia called her that same day to tell her they may no longer cover the expense of her rental car.

We asked Kia if that decision was connected to this report. We did not get a reply to that question.

The CEOs of both Kia and Hyundai have been asked to address reports of non-collision fires to Congress. That hearing is scheduled for Nov. 14.

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