WASHINGTON -- The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is reviewing noncollision fires in Kia and Hyundai vehicles as part of two ongoing investigations related to engine failures.
The probe, confirmed Tuesday in a letter to Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., follows a petition this month from the Center for Auto Safety for federal safety regulators to investigate whether there is a noncrash fire risk in Kia and Hyundai vehicles and whether repairs and engineering changes should be made.
The agency separately informed Nelson that it has received 402 complaints of collision and noncollision fires involving Kia and Hyundai vehicles, according to a Senate Commerce Committee spokesman.
NHTSA said it has not initiated a separate safety defect investigation into 2011-14 Kia Optima and Sorento and Hyundai Sonata and Santa Fe referenced in the Center for Auto Safety petition, but would do so if the review warrants such as probe.
"I'm glad they're looking into these fires but they need to pick up the pace," Nelson said in response to the letter. "Consumers need to know as soon as possible if these vehicles are safe to drive."
Nelson, the ranking Democrat on the committee, plans to ask NHTSA for a briefing on the timeline for the current investigations and whether the agency expects to take further action.