Action 9

‘Very lucky that we’re still here’: Consumer claims newer car defect jeopardized family’s safety

CLERMONT, Fla. — A Clermont woman claims she was told her 2-year-old car is unsafe to drive after the fuel tank suddenly expanded and popped her back seats up.

“I felt very lucky that we’re still here,” said Brittany Kelley. 

She was driving her 2022 Kia K5 in early December with her two kids in the backseat when she first noticed a problem.  She heard a strange banging noise coming from the car.

Kelley told Action 9 Consumer Investigator Jeff Deal, “I asked my son if he heard it. And he was like, ‘Something doesn’t sound right.’  And I started watching my gas gauge go from full to E.”

When Kelley, who drives for her work, bought the K5 brand new in 2022 she believed it was the ideal car.

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“It’s got a really good gas mileage. I love the color inside. The safety ratings were amazing,” she said.

She has since soured on the car.  The local Kia dealership at first told her the PCV valve that helps with ventilation was bad, but then learned the problem was much bigger.

She claims the dealership told her it could have exploded and said,” Your gas tank expanded.  And you’re lucky you made it here safely. Your car is no longer safe to drive.”

Brittany Kelley showed the Action 9 team photos of the bloated tank that popped her back seat up and said, “I mean my kids were sitting there when it happened.”

The local dealership sent her an email stating its “shop foreman believes that the PCV valve failed due to a defect of the gas tank.  The tank expanded and caused the PCV valve to lock shut.”   And as part of a message to Kia, it wrote they “found damage under the seat and the fuel pump cover bent.”

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does have a similar complaint about a 2021 Kia K5.  In that complaint the owner claimed  the rear seat popped up and what appeared to be the fuel pump almost popped out.

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Kelley has also filed a complaint with NHTSA along with a complaint to the Florida Attorney General’s office.

After Action 9 took the complaint to Kia, Kelley said Kia came back and offered her $20,000 for the car that now has around 72,000 miles on it.

Kia confirmed it is investigating and has been in communication with her.

Kelley believes this is a defect that put her family at risk and that Kia is to blame.  The single mother is hoping the company will replace the car or refund what she paid for it.  So far, she has rejected Kia’s offer to buy the car for $20,000.

She also remains thankful no one was injured.

“I’m all my kids have. So, I have to have transportation. And I felt like I failed them,” she said.

Jeff Deal

Jeff Deal,

I joined the Eyewitness News team as a reporter in 2006.