‘Cars burst into flames’: Local mom terrified after learning minivan could spontaneously explode

Published: May. 4, 2022 at 10:37 PM CDT
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ST. LOUIS (KMOV) -- A local mom is terrified after she learned the minivan she recently bought to carry her growing family could spontaneously explode.

Jaime Adamski is about ready to give birth to twins. She already has a toddler and a pre-teen, so getting a minivan was necessary.

Adamski is a fan of electric vehicles, so she did a ton of research. She finally settled on a used 2018 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid plug-in in January.

Not long after, she learned the entire van was under recall because of the risk of fire while parked, with reports of a dozen of them randomly catching fire. In some cases, attorneys said the vehicles exploded without warning. The recall states the fires potentially originated in the vehicle’s center with the ignition in the off mode, but the exact cause is still unknown.

Adamski told News 4 it is truly terrifying to have the minivan around, even though she still has to drive it occasionally.

“God forbid something were to happen and we were driving, and I can’t get everybody out in time. Am I going to lose a child because of this?” she said.

According to Chrysler, there is no remedy available to fix the problem right now. Instead, the company recommends people park the vehicle outdoors and away from other vehicles or structures, even if the minivan is turned off.

Adamski said she has been following the recommendations from Chrysler and using it as little as possible. Local dealers have been nice, but she said no one would repurchase the car. Adamski said she’s had to fight for a response from Chrysler.

“It is terrifying and unacceptable and just really disheartening that a company that big could do that to people,” she said.

At one point, she said, Chrysler offered her a $100 gift card.

Steve Berman’s law firm has filed a class-action lawsuit against Chrysler. So far, they represent nearly two dozen people around the country. Berman served as co-counsel in the Big Tobacco litigation in the 1990s.

“We have had several plaintiffs who have had their cars burst into flames,” he said.

With nearly 20,000 vehicles impacted, Berman said it’s something they had to take on. He told News 4 he believes the electric battery component caused the fires.

The vehicles were advertised as the first hybrid minivan in America and safe for families. Berman said he hopes the lawsuit will answer key questions, but they have not heard much from Chrysler.

A spokesperson for the parent company of Chrysler referenced a statement that reads: “Stellantis is working to confirm the cause of the fires. The remedy, when developed, will be provided free of charge, and affected customers will be advised when they may schedule service.” They further noted they were not aware of any related injuries from the 12 fires.

Berman and Adamski said they are worried other owners might not know of the issue.

After News 4 got involved, Adamski said she started getting regular word from a Chrysler representative. She said she’s hoping to finally get a reasonable solution.

On Tuesday night, Adamski said a Chrysler representative offered to buy back the van, but only if she signed a non-disclosure agreement that stated she wouldn’t talk about it. Adamski told News 4 she didn’t feel comfortable doing that.

Stellantis sent News 4 the following statement:

“This recall is being conducted in accordance with regulation and reflects our deep commitment to customer safety. We are unaware of any related injuries. Our pursuit of a final resolution continues, guided by strict engineering discipline. The 2017 and 2018 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid meet or exceed all applicable federal safety standards and account for more than two dozen industry awards for value, utility, environmental-impact mitigation, and overall satisfaction.”

Chrysler isn’t the only company to face recall issues like this. Click here to search for current recalls and additional information.