Fire gutted interior of 2013 Hyundai Sonata. A catastrophic fire
by any standard. Will Hyundai be accountable?
2013 Hyundai Sonata burns at the roadside.
by Tom Thorne, Belleville, Ontario, 25 January 2013
On Monday 20 January 2013 my oldest daughter was driving her 2013 Hyundai Sonata from the school where she teaches to pick up her three teenage children at their high school.
Suddenly the car dashboard began to light up. The car began to show signs of shutting down the power train so she pulled over to the side of the road. Nothing worked and her four way flashers would not come on. Almost instantly smoke began to billow from the back seat. She got out of the driver’s side grabbing her purse from the front passenger seat.
She attempted to open the back doors to retrieve her computer and school student records. The doors would not open. She backed away from the car as it was engulfed in flames. Someone called 911 and the police and fire department from Quinte West were soon on site retarding the fire. The car could not be saved it is a total loss.
At this time it is not known what caused the fire but it is clear that it started in the back seat after a general systems failure. One thing is certain the fire did not start in the engine. The engine is completely intact as I saw yesterday when I visited the wreckers in Belleville where the car is stored until insurance officials and fire forensic people examine it.
The wrecker company manager told me at the site that they are seeing more and more wiring that is “too thin” leading to seat heaters and other systems. Another employee offered that he knows of other Hyundai cars that have self ignited but not brought to their lot. A quick search of the internet confirms that Hyundai cars have ignited elsewhere. Some of these instances are listed below.
The fact is this one did ignite for no good reason is a cause for alarm. The insurance company is initially offering a replacement value which means that the victim of this situation does not get the full purchase price back. This car had only 26,000 km. so it is worth less from insurance book values. That means the victim bites the financing or price paid difference after only a year of driving.
American Fire Administration facts from a report covering 2008-2010 indicate one in seven fires responded to are in cars, 86 percent of those fires are in passenger vehicles. Many of these fires (32 percent) are described as “unintentional”. Sixty one percent of these fires are in the engine compartment. Forty four percent of fires are started by “mechanical failures”. Twenty eight percent of car fires are caused by insulation problems around wires and 18 percent of fires are caused by flammable liquids.
The average dollar loss per car fire to the victim after insurance is about $5,000 adjusting for market values. Per thousand car fires 2.3 percent result in fatalities usually because the fire is a result of a car crash. In this specific Hyundai Sonata case the fire resulted in no deaths or physical injury but its psychological effects can be deeper especially when the back doors would not open. My daughter keeps thinking about her children caught in the backseat.
The American government figures on these fires show clearly that passenger cars are less safe than transport vehicles. Sixty nine percent of vehicle fires are in passenger cars, 16 percent in other passenger vehicles such as light trucks. Non commercial fires on the road account for 86 percent of the fires reported versus seven percent for transport vehicles. Naturally there are more cars than transports but the fire safety of these cars on the road is still 32 percent of fires not caused by a crash.
The remedy for these “unintentional” car fires seems to indicate a tort court action if the drivers of these lemons are to make an impact on the car building industry. There is no excuse for a system failure where wires overheat create a fire and destroy a new car. Clearly there is negligence here in the engineering, sourcing and quality control when these cars are built. That negligence is clearly the responsibility and accountability of the car manufacturers and even those who wilfully offer and sell them to the public.
Please comment on this story with your own car fire experiences at this email or below: firstname.lastname@example.org
The engine was not burned only the interior of this 2013 Hyundai Sonata.
What could cause such a fire?
Some examples of similar experiences from a simple Google search “Hyundai Sonata fires”:
1. Rocco Feb 2013: As a fire investigator, I have just examined 2 car fires in a week due to electrical failure...2012 sonata-2013 sonata. Coincidence? I think not. Someone in the auto industry needs to look into this.
2. MICHELLE Jan 18, 2014 9:03:16 AM
I had fire 2012 hyundia sonata -- burned on side of hwy -- electrical problem??
3.Another Hyundai Sonata taxi catches fire on expressway - 08May2012 youTube
4. Hyundai Sonata GLS: My 2011 Hyundai Sonata caught fire on my
My 2011 Hyundai Sonata caught fire on my way to work this morning. Now it is a total loss. I had an oil change 1 week ago. What do you think may have happened?
5.The vehicle was a 2011 Hyundai Sonata. The VIN of the car is 5NPEC4AC7B_. Upon pulling out from a stop sign the engine stalled, after coasting to a stop and placing in park I tried to restart engine. All lights went off and motor did not turn. Attempted again, same thing then passenger compartment filled with smoke. Fire dept arrived and determined somewhere in dash a component had fried. They then disconnected battery. Vehicle was towed to dealer, per dealer engine locked up and they have to disassemble dash to determine what had fried. This issue happened on Tuesday, September 6, 2011.
6. The car is a 2009 Hyundai Sonata. Vehicle identification number (VIN) of the vehicle is 5NPET46C89_. I started my car and as I started to turn the steering wheel so I could pull out of the parking space smoke spewed from my dashboard. I looked up under the dash and noticed the wiring harness in flames. I extinguished the fire. I then had the car towed to a Hyundai dealer. They examined the damage and said tat it would cost me $4000 to repair it as I needed a new wiring harness. Hyundai claims it wasn't a manufacturers defect, even though the car was purchased brand new and therehas been no alterations or modifications, the same wiring harness is used in kia which has a recall on a wiring harness. I am in possession of the burnt harness and it clearly has kia written on it. This problem occurred on Oct. 1, 2010.
7. On my way home my 2011 Hyundai Sonata caught fire under the
Customer Question: On my way home my 2011 Hyundai Sonata caught fire under the hood. I just had starter replaced 3 days earlier. Received paper stating all is good with my car. What could have caused this fire?
8. wemakeitsafer.com › Recalled Products › Vehicle Recalls › Hyundai
Find recall information for Hyundai Sonata Recall and other recalled cars, trucks ... year 2012-2013 Hyundai Sonata passenger cars, manufactured from January 24, ..... IN THE PRESENCE OF AN IGNITION SOURCE MAY RESULT IN A FIRE.
9. Hyundai Sonata Engine - 2013 HYUNDAI SONATA Problems With ...
2013 Hyundai Sonata problem with Engine. 2013 ... AN INDEPENDENT INVESTIGATOR STATED THE FIRE ORIGINATED IN THE ENGINE COMPARTMENT.
10. 2011 Hyundai Sonata Electrical System Complaints
www.aboutautomobile.com › Complaints › 2011 › Hyundai › Sonata
Provides Information about 2011 Hyundai Sonata Electrical System Complaints ... On 10/29/2013, 10/30/2013 and 11/01/2013 it began do do the exact same thing. ..... 40 minute with my family inside the vehicle, the left front side caught on fire.
11. My new hyundai sonata 2013 purchased in nov was parked in my ...
My new hyundai sonata 2013 purchased in nov was parked in my friends driveway for over 4 hours and spontaneously the engine caught fire. It was not arson it ...
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