By Jim Travers
Our Car Talk Car Complaints Turd of the Week this week is the 2011 and 2012 Hyundai Sonata.
Turns out, some owners are reporting that their 2.4-liter, non-turbo engines have been "misbehaving" lately-- as in seizing, blowing, heading south, or however you choose to describe turning themselves into high-priced boat anchors.
Our pals over at CarComplaints.com have been receiving a passel of complaints from unhappy Sonataists, who say that the early retirement came without warning, and none of the usual telltale signs like oil leaks, funny noises, or even so much as a check engine light blinking, before their cars literally ground to a halt.
This is somewhat surprising, because Hyundais are generally good cars, and the brand has come a long way since introducing itself to an unsuspecting American public back in the 1980s. Their early offerings were entirely forgettable and casually put together econoboxes such as the subcompact Excel, and whatever that other thing was.
From those humble beginnings, Hyundai smartened up fast, joining the automotive major leagues with an ever expanding lineup that pretty much improved with every new or redesigned model. But everybody blows it once in a while. And that is what has earned the 2011 Sonata the distinction of being our inaugural Turd of the Week.
Adding insult to inoperation, owners say that neither their dealers or Hyundai corporate headquarters have been much help, and that they’ve been forking over an average of more than $5,400 for repairs. Some say dealers have even gone so far as to say the failures were the fault of the owners, for not taking proper care of their cars. But the CarComplaints.com website is full of letters from owners detailing regular maintenance and oil changes.
Hyundai may not be showing their buyers a lot of love, but the lawyers are paying attention. Attorney Matthew Schelkopf of the firm Chimicles & Tikellis of Haverford, Pa, has already filed one class action lawsuit over the issue, and is preparing an amended class action complaint against Hyundai in August.
“What we’ve found is that the engine crankshaft bearings are problematic, and can lead to catastrophic failure” said Schelkopf. “It happens pretty suddenly, generally as these cars hit 50,000 or 60,000 miles.”
Part of the problem may be that the Sonata was redesigned for the 2011 model year, and there’s definitely truth to the old adage that buying any new model in its first year can be a bad idea.
So if you’re the owner of a 2011 or 2012 Hyundai, you have our sympathy- whether yours has blown up yet or not. If it hasn’t, ask your dealer if they’re familiar with the problem and what they suggest. Get it on record. And you might want to give the legal beagles in Haverford a call, or check out their website at www.chimicles.com.
As we went to press we learned that Hyundai has announced a recall of some 470,000 Sonatas for this very issue! (Maybe they read our post.) The bad news is that you won’t be able to get it fixed until November at the earliest, because Hyundai says they don’t have the parts to make repairs yet. So if there’s a 2011-12 Sonata sitting in your driveway, drive very carefully until then, or just take the bus. Details from our friends at CarComplaints.com, right here
Owners: here’s a link to the Hyundai micro site where you can find out if your car is part of the recall.
Stay tuned here for updates.