AUSTIN (KXAN) — A Pflugerville woman was driving home when she knew something was wrong with her 2012 Hyundai Tucson.
She was just about two blocks away when Cynthia Tanner says the vehicle began to stall, the check engine light came on, and she noticed smoke coming out of the hood.
“I knew that the car was no longer going to be drivable and that I needed to get somewhere where I could get out of the car and get it to a mechanic or something, but I didn’t even have an opportunity to do that,” Tanner explained. “I pulled over as quickly as I could. As soon as I got out of my car, the front hood of the car went up in flames.”
Tanner says she purchased her vehicle used in 2015, but hasn’t had any major problems with it until now.
“If this had happened during rush hour traffic on I-35 or something, who knows what would have happened,” the driver added.
Although, Tanner was able to get out of her vehicle safely and with enough time, she told KXAN Investigator Brittany Glas she wants to know why, with over a half a million other vehicles recalled by the same manufacturer, she was not notified about the recall until it was too late.
Tanner says she hasn’t received a recall notice—at least not yet.
“I should have received notification. My biggest concern is just making sure that other people are aware of this recall so that they can get their cars checked out and also to see if there could be some additional accountability on the part of Hyundai and Kia. There needs to be more action taken on their part,” added Tanner. “There should be something that mandates that all vehicle owners should be notified within a certain time frame.”
She says when it comes to crucial safety recalls like hers, she believes communication between manufacturers, dealers and drivers needs to improve.
“There’s got to be some other way or system to be able to notify people,” said Tanner. “How do you get that message out to so many people and what does that process look like? So, maybe that’s where they need to be reevaluating that process altogether.”
For now, Tanner says she’s still processing what happened as she works with her insurance company to resolve the situation and understand how to move forward.
“It was surreal. It’s not something that anybody thinks that they’re going to experience,” she said.
According to NBC News, Kia and Hyundai are recalling more than 500,000 vehicles due to new safety issues that could potentially cause engine fires.
Hyundai alone is recalling 152,000 Tucson SUV’s from 2011 to 2013 and Sportage SUV’s from 2011 to 2012 to fix an engine oil pan leak that can cause fires.
Hyundai owners were said to begin being notified starting March 29.
The largest of three recalls covers nearly 379,000 Kia Soul models from 2012 to 2016 with 1.6-liter engines. Government documents show high exhaust gas temperatures can damage the catalytic converters which can lead to abnormal combustion and other problems, potentially causing engine fires.
Kia owners will receive letters about the issue starting April 10.
KXAN reached out to several Austin dealerships Monday to learn more inforamtion about the recall notification process. We were told that for the most part, manufacturers tend to be responsible for notifying drivers about a recall on their vehicle and then a dealer works with that customer to make any required safety fixes.
One dealership told us even when a customer buys a used car, the manufacturer usually still sends the newest vehicle owner the recall notification using current DMV records. However, the driver would have to pay close attention to their mail in order to make sure they don’t miss those notices by mistake.
The Texas Department of Motor Vehicles releases motor vehicle records to vehicle manufacturers seeking such records for use in connection with recalls. The disclosure of this information is required, per Texas Transportation Code 730.005.
The U.S. Department of Transportation has a link on their website that allows you to search for safety recalls using the year, make and model of your car. You can also find safety recalls associated with an individual vehicle by searching with a vehicle identification number. Using a VIN will also allow someone to find complaints from previous owners of that specific vehicle.