• Woman says brand-new SUV exploded just days after she bought it

    By: Audrey Washington

    Updated:

    ATLANTA - An Athens woman says she could have been killed when her brand new SUV exploded just days after she bought it. 

    Kaitlyn Schaefer told Channel 2's Audrey Washington she and her friends were in Buckhead when the Hyundai Tuscon she'd bought just four days earlier started to smoke and exploded. Schaefer said she and her friends only had seconds to get out.

    Luckily, no one was hurt, but it left Schaefer shaken. 

    "We could have died," she said. 

    Schaefer said she and her parents bought the SUV just a few days earlier with only 300 miles on it. But when she drove to her friend's Buckhead home on Tuesday, she noticed problems right away.

    "We noticed there was smoke coming from the front tires," Schaefer said. 

    Schaefer said the car jolted and the lights started to flicker, so she and her friends jumped out. 

    Schaefer called the dealership, and she said a representative told her to go back and press the SOS button. 

    Schaefer said when she did, "There was an explosion underneath the hood."

    Video shot after the fire started shows the white SUV engulfed in flames. The fire was so intense that the SUV partially melted onto the pavement. 

    Washington dug into records on Hyundai Tuscons to see if the same thing has happened to any other SUVs. 

    According to the Center for Auto Safety, there's no recall for the 2019 Hyundai Tuscon. There were, however, recalls for the 2011-2013 models due to oil leaks that could cause non-crash fires. 


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    In November, Channel 2 Action News covered a rash of reported engine fires in vehicles, including the 2011 Hyundai Santa Fe, but not the Tuscon. 

    Hyundai sent Washington a statement that said, in part: 

    "As soon as we became aware of the vehicle fire, Hyundai contacted the customer to take care of them and make arrangements to inspect the vehicle. We are taking this incident very seriously."

    Schaefer said she's still working to get everything resolved with the dealership and her insurance company, but she said once she gets her money returned, she doesn't plan to buy the same make and model of SUV. 

    In the meantime, she's just thankful to be alive. 

    "It could have been the worst day," Schaefer said. 

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