Wield the Warranty for Stuff that Should Last But Doesn't

Dear Car Talk:

I have a 2018 Hyundai Sonata Limited Hybrid (not a plug-in). I purchased it new at the end of 2018 and have had all my oil changes and services done according to schedule.

On a cold night this past winter, I turned on my heated seat. The three lights on the dashboard came on, indicating that the seat heat was set to the highest level. Then, within a minute, the lights went off, and the seat did not heat.

I could only get the seat heater lights to turn on again by turning the car off and then on. And even after that, the seat heater would only stay on for a minute and then shut off.

The passenger seat warmer works fine. Any idea what's wrong? -- Marla

You're lucky, Marla. I only discovered my seat heater stopped working when my wife asked me whatever happened to those nice grill marks that she used to see on my butt.

I'm going to guess you have a faulty heater grid in the driver's seat, Marla. That's the heating element under the seat cushion that creates the heat. There's an electronic module that controls the seat heating in your car. But if the module were at fault, I'm pretty sure your passenger seat heater wouldn't work either. So, I'm going to rule that out.

I'm guessing that the grid in your driver's seat either shorted out, a wire broke or it was just poorly made and didn't last as long as it should have. Your Hyundai dealership can use their scan tool on the seat heater and check for an open circuit. If they find one -- and can't find anything else that explains it -- they'll have to take the seat apart and replace the grid. I believe the 2018 Sonata came with a 5-year/60,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty. So as long as you have fewer than 60,000 miles on it, you can just head over to the dealer, explain the problem, and say, "Please fix it." And "No, thank you, I don't also want the $800 fuzzy dice rotating service while I'm here."

This is exactly what a warranty is for, Marla: stuff that should last for many years but doesn't. So go get it fixed and enjoy happy, warm-seated motoring.


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