CAMERON, Texas — Araceli Hampton bought her 2018 Kia Soul just over a year ago from Hertz. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, she still hadn't put too many miles on the vehicle.
Now, she won't be putting on any more. The vehicle caught fire while Hampton was driving on Sept. 22. The flames eventually engulfed the whole car.
Hampton told 6 News she heard a knocking in the engine a few days before and took the vehicle to Rockdale Speedy Lube hoping it just needed an oil change. The general manager changed her oil, but told her from the beginning she needed to take it to a mechanic.
"The mechanic said 'You need to take this in as soon as possible,' which I was going to get it to the mechanic this Saturday," Hampton said.
On the Speedy Lube invoice the shop wrote, "motor made loud knocking prior to service."
On the way back to Cameron, Hampton said she heard a noise that sounded like metal grinding against metal. She said she couldn't stop the vehicle, so she cruised onto the side of the road. The vehicle started to smoke and eventually caught fire.
Hampton said the vehicle had less than 60,000 miles and was still under warranty. The invoice Rockdale Speedy Lube gave Hampton confirms the mileage was just 47 miles under that point.
6 News originally spoke to Hampton about the issue on Monday and she said Kia was supposed to have someone inspect the vehicle. As of Friday, Oct. 1, investigators had still not done so.
Hampton said her supposed warranty had been no help at all.
"They have offered zero, absolutely no help, with that car. They just kind of shrugged their shoulders, said 'We will do our investigation, we don't have a timeline,'" Hampton said.
Hampton told 6 News she eventually had to use her savings to purchase another vehicle so she could get to work. Hampton is an elementary school teacher in Temple.
Kia Motors America provided a statement to 6 News on the incident late Friday:
"All automobiles contain combustible materials, and a vehicle fire may be the result of any number of complex factors, such as a manufacturing issue, inadequate maintenance, installation of aftermarket parts, an improper repair, arson, or some other non-vehicle source, and therefore must be carefully evaluated by a qualified and trained investigator or technician on a case-by-case basis. If a fire is determined to be the result of a Kia manufacturing issue, KUS will work with the customer to reach a satisfactory resolution to the matter.
We have been in recent communication with the owner and have received authorization to inspect the vehicle at earliest opportunity. Kia endeavors to offer alternate transportation once able to initiate such an inspection, but according to Ms. Hampton, she has secured a 2nd vehicle for use. As noted in the vehicle’s Warranty & Consumer Information Manual (WCIM), the basic and powertrain limited warranties would have expired in November of 2022 or upon completion of 60,000 miles, whichever occurred first...If the root cause of the fire is determined to fall within the scope of Kia’s limited warranties, then the damage associated with the fire would be covered."