The driver, Susan King, says, "I got out, and suddenly the car was engulfed in flames. (Olinger) saved my life. I'm incredibly grateful, and she was my angel that day. It was surreal."
NBC did a nice job of using the video to highlight a serious issue. The SUV's owner was not King but her friend Tyla Kennedy, and though the Kia was part of a recall of 2012-14 Sorentos having to do with an engine defect, Kennedy says she never received a recall notice. That's because she was not the car's original owner. And as anyone who has received a recall notice for a long-sold car knows, automakers send the notices to original owners. Subsequent owners are out of luck.
We could argue all day about whether automakers, sellers or subsequent owners should do more to ensure that automakers know the current whereabouts of their products, but luckily there's an easy way past all of that.
If you own a car you bought second-hand, go to safercar.gov and enter your VIN. If there is a recall on your vehicle, it will show up there. If one pops up, contact a dealership and the repair will be carried out free of charge.
Even if you bought your vehicle new, doing this check couldn't hurt, just in case your notice got lost in the mail.
It could keep you from discovering, as you fly down the highway, that you are driving a fireball.