Bay City woman survives fire in 2014 Kia Soul

 

A Bay City woman is very thankful to be alive after the car she was in caught on fire while she was driving it.

Shaudis Eaton, 24, was driving to work on FM 2668 around 5 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 27, when something started going wrong with the 2014 Kia Soul she was driving.

“I started smelling gas in my car and it started locking up. When I was driving people started giving me signals that something was wrong,” Eaton said.

Eaton said she couldn’t do anything with the car.

“Everything started locking up. I couldn’t put it in park. I couldn’t slow down. I had the window down and saw that the grass was lit up like something was on fire. I just got out of the car the best way I could. When it got down to 5 mph I jumped out of the car and rolled on the ground,” Eaton said.

The car eventually was totally engulfed in flames. Firefighters arrived on the scene to put the fire out. The car was a total loss. Eaton said she was slightly burned when she retrieved her wallet from the car, but was otherwise uninjured following the ordeal.

Eaton said up until that point, she had never had any problems with the car. She said reading online that other Kia Soul owners had similar problems with their cars catching fire. 

Eaton never received a recall notice on the car, but it has been reported that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) was investigating nearly 3 million cars sold by KIA and Hyundai because of engine fire problems. Among those vehicles were the Kia Soul, which were manufactured between 2010 and 2015.

According to a report in Car and Driver Magazine, the NHTSA has tracked at least 3,125 complaints of fires reported by owners and the automakers, including at least 103 injuries and one death. The reported fires, predominantly in the engine compartment, are correlated to two recalls in 2015 and 2017 affecting 1.6 million of these cars with the 2.0-liter and 2.4-liter four-cylinder engines with direct injection (labeled by the automakers as GDI). Many of these engines, known as Theta II, have improperly machined crankshafts and crankpins that can leave metal shavings within the crankshaft oil passages. They can become blocked, cause the connecting rod bearings to wear, and then seize the engine. And it is these engines that are catching fire, according to the Ralph Nader–backed Center for Auto Safety (CAS), which petitioned NHTSA to investigate them in June 2018.

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