Sonatas recalled in U.S. over steering problem

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Sonatas recalled in U.S. over steering problem

Hyundai Motor will recall 173,000 Sonata sedans in the United States for a technical flaw in the vehicle’s motor driving power steering (MDPS).

According to the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) on Sunday, Korea’s No. 1 automaker will recall Sonata sedans produced from December 2009 to October 2010 as there is a possibility that a circuit board on the MDPS might have been damaged, which could effect control of the cars’ steering wheels.

Hyundai Motor America said there are no accidents related to the defect so far and it will repair the part for free starting in late May.

The company carried out a recall for the same problem on the Elantra and Elantra Tourings last year.

Hyundai had a similar problem in the local market with the part.

After a TV program raised concerns about the MDPS, the company decided to repair the part on 12 models including the YF Sonata and Avante sedans when owners found a defect in the MDPS.

But the automaker came under fire for not carrying out a recall.

Carrying out a recall means that the manufacturer will pay all repair costs.

Free repairs don’t offer any benefit to car owners who already spent their own money to fix the cars prior to the announcement of the free repair. About 2.07 million Hyundai cars in Korea are a subject to repairs, according to the Transport ministry.

After the announcement was made by the NHTSA, Korean consumers complained on the Internet that the automaker is treating local owners unfairly, but Hyundai said it will do something to fix the problem.

“We are not sure about the specific schedule, but there will be an announcement of a recall for the MDPS by the Transport Ministry, probably as early as later the month,” a spokesman of Hyundai Motor told the Korea JoongAng Daily.

The MDPS wasn’t Hyundai’s only problem. The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport said Monday it will also recall 111,553 units of Hyundai’s popular compact sedan, the Avante HD, produced between January 2, 2008 and August 22, 2009 for an airbag problem.

The ministry said the airbags activate when a certain amount of impact is applied on the bottom of a car, as when a vehicle runs over a speed bump. The ministry said repairs will start Tuesday for free at Hyundai’s service centers.

Hyundai’s efforts to improve its overall product quality are facing difficulties.

The issue was cited by Chairman Chung Mong-koo as the company’s top business priority in a New Year address.

Since last year, the company has been running a series of demonstrations, including a car collision test, that try to show that cars manufactured in Korea and the United States offer the same quality.

“Local consumers are more sensitive to issues related to Hyundai and Kia, but that isn’t because they don’t like the companies, but rather because they are the leading companies in the country,” said Prof. Kim Pil-soo from the department of automotive engineering at Daelim University.

“They need to provide exact data every time an issue is reported and show that they are trying hard to fix problems.”


BY KWON SANG-SOO [kwon.sangsoo@joongang.co.kr]

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