Peninsula woman speaks out after her SUV catches fire while driving
MILLBRAE, Calif. - A Peninsula woman said she's lucky to be alive after her SUV caught on fire while she was driving.
Phon Khuu said police and firefighters jumped in to help.
She hopes this doesn't happen to someone else.
Khuu says her Audi SUV is still under warranty, and she's working with her insurance. But one legal expert KTVU consulted said consumers have legal protections.
Khuu now drives a rental car.
Her 2020 Audi Q5 caught on fire March 19 while she was driving on Millbrae Avenue in Millbrae.
She said smoke starting coming out from the front of her SUV.
She pulled over, and a passing police officer saw what was happening and told her to get out of her vehicle.
She said she saw oil leaking underneath and the officer cautioned her to get further away for safety reasons.
"One more minute and then boom. I've been in U.S.A 45 years, I've never seen anything like that," said Khuu.
"Cars aren't supposed to catch on fire these days," said Elliot Conn, a consumer protection attorney in San Francisco. He is not representing Khuu.
He said there are state and federal lemon laws that protect consumers.
While the 2020 model year of Audi Q5 is not currently under a recall, Conn said there could be warranty protections beyond what is advertised.
"You don't have to prove what caused the defect. The manufacturer, if they want to say it was caused by outside use, unreasonable use or someone else's fault, they bear the burden of proof," said Conn.
He advised consumers to bring their vehicle to the dealer as soon as there's a problem and keep records.
He said recurring problems can extend a warranty or get the owner a replacement.
"If your car blows up or having a defect, don't necessarily listen to what the dealer says. Don't listen to what the manufacturer says. The first thing is you should call an attorney and nearly every lemon law attorney I know, at the very least, will do free consultations," said Conn.
As for Audi owner Khuu, she said she won the brand-new SUV during a casino raffle.
She's grateful she wasn't injured or worse, "I still feel lucky because I got the police man and fire man to help me."
Khuu said she's consulting with her insurance, and she's not sure what she'll do next.
Attorney Conn said he's settled claims that took anywhere from six weeks up to 5 years.
He said consumers should not automatically go to their insurance because that could cause their rates to go up for something that's not their fault.
Amber Lee is a reporter with KTVU. Email Amber at Amber.Lee@Fox.com or text/leave message at 510-599-3922. Follow her on facebook @AmberKTVU, instagram @AmberKTVU or twitter @AmberKTVU.