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Kia not expanding recall after more reports of Souls catching fire, drivers share stories of narrow escapes

Fires raise questions about recall numbers
Posted at 4:06 PM, Oct 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-02 18:06:07-04

PASCO COUNTY, Fla. — Drivers continue to share stories of scary moments and narrow escapes as there are more reports of Kia Souls catching fire.

New complaints led I-Team Investigator Jackie Callaway to ask why some vehicles weren't included in the automaker's past recalls for engine fire risks.

Brek Badgley says his 2015 Kia Soul burst into flames while rolling down I-75 northbound in Hernando County last December. He said the fire gutted the entire vehicle within minutes.

“Just tossed my phone out of the window and started throwing stuff out of the car,” Badgley said.

In April 2019, Kia recalled nearly 380,000 Kia Souls made between 2012 and 2016 over a defect that they say could cause a fire. We checked Brek’s VIN and found his Soul wasn't included in that recall.

The I-Team discovered not every Soul made during those years was taken off the road. Kia says that's because even within the same model year, vehicles can have different equipment.

Shelly Parks' 2015 Kia Soul was among those not recalled. Parks says it caught fire as she drove near Columbus, Ohio, last summer.

"We hear someone yell fire, and by the time we had noticed anything, there was fire coming from underneath the car," Parks said.

She told the I-Team the car was still rolling to a stop when both she and her friend jumped out.

“I watched the car roll past me on fire."

The I-Team also found 2018 Kia Souls catching fire, according to three reports filed with federal regulators. Kia reports these Soul fires are rare and can be caused by any number of factors not related to engine defects.

In August, 34-year-old Jordan Carlton died of his injuries a year after his rented 2019 Kia Soul went up in flames as he drove down a Hawaiian highway. There was no recall for that Soul.

This story was first reported by Jackie Callaway at WFTS in Tampa Bay, Florida.