Winter weather around here can really do some damage to the undercarriage of your car.
Back in 2009, it led to Hyundai recalling Sonatas made from 2001 to 2004. Their subframes rusted and that’s a big danger because if the rot goes all the way through, then there’s nothing to support the control arms. That, in turn, could lead to a wheel collapsing while you’re driving.
Chuck Dowling got a 2004 Sonata for his daughter Courtney to drive. She’s a college student who will be doing graduate work in psychology. Courtney said she loves the car that now has about 92,000 miles on it. But she’s also worried driving it because of the rust.
“You don’t know when it’s going to give out or you’re gonna get hurt," she said.
Dowling's mechanic, Chris Ezzo, at his Newbridge service station, first noticed the issue.
“Very dangerous,” Ezzo told us.
He showed us the rust and explained:
“On the subframe that supports your control arms, your engine, your transmission, they rot away. And if there’s nothing holding the control arm the whole wheel collapses."
Ezzo said he’s seen the problem many times on early-21st-century Sonatas and Santa Fes. In fact, a couple of times the wheel has collapsed while he was test driving the vehicles.
Ezzo told Dowling about the rusted subframe recall and Dowling went to his dealer. But he ran into trouble. The dealer told him Hyundai corporate wouldn’t go along with the recall repair.
“I’ve gotten nowhere with the corporation,” Dowling said.
He told us Hyundai corporate basically told him his vehicle identification number wasn’t covered by the recall.
“I’m very shocked. I’ve got to rethink further purchases of Hyundais … I think they’re just putting profits ahead of customer safety," he said.
“I just find it really weird that they were stooping so low,” Courtney Dowling said.
And Ezzo couldn’t understand it either.
“I don’t know why they’re giving him such a hard time with it. It’s the typical rot that I see in the Sonatas and Santa Fe’s," he said.
So, Dowling contacted us and we got in touch with Hyundai USA. We didn’t expect much from corporate. We’ve had some dealings with them before when they wouldn’t recognize some basic facts. So, we weren’t surprised when corporate told us about the VIN and said that was controlling.
But then we did get a surprise. Our contact told us he’d look into it and see what he could do for Dowling.
Maybe that was just the corporation’s way of gamesmanship. Because Dowling said he never heard from them again and neither did we, despite at least four more emails and calls.
Dowling says he’s going to have Ezzo repair the rust. He said other than that, the Sonata is reliable transportation for his daughter.
The lesson: Hyundai may make some good cars but if you need help from corporate, don’t count on Hyundai USA.