The Hyundai Motor Company began Seoul, South Korea in 1967 when the founder Chung-Ju Yung developed a subsidiary of his larger company, the Hyundai Engineering and Construction Company. At first, Hyundai manufactured cars for the Ford Motor Company, but soon Chung-Ju Yung hired his own engineers and Hyundai began producing original cars. In 1975, they began the distribution of South Korea’s first mass produced car, the Hyundai Pony.
Soon after, Hyundai began to expand into foreign countries such as Ecuador and Canada. Their cars were extremely popular, and, in 1986, they started to export cars to the United States. In 1998, Hyundai purchased a 51% stake in Kia Motors, the second largest Korean motor company, continuing its pattern of growth and expansion. In 2005, Hyundai opened its first American manufacturing plant in Alabama.
Today Hyundai is known for its warranty, marketed as “America’s Best” which covers ten years or 100,000 miles for all cars sold in the United States. Current Hyundai models include sedans, coupes, and SUVs, and the company manages the world’s largest manufacturing plant, which can produce 1.6 million units annually. Hyundai reports a yearly revenue of over 86 billion dollars.
Hyundai Defects and Recalls
This section by no means represents a comprehensive list of manufacturing and operating malfunctions, and it is advisable to check for complete information on any recalls that may apply to your vehicle in order to quickly and safely address them. The following information, however, compiles some of the current common issues that Hyundai owners may experience.
In recent years, Hyundai models have displayed various brake issues. These range from less severe, such as brake lights that continue to stay illuminated, to very severe like sudden locking brakes during vehicle operation.
In November of 2015, Hyundai issued a recall on 305,000 Sonata sedans from 2011 and 2012 due to faulty brake pad material which, when deteriorated, can allow the stop lamp switch plunger to remain extended, even when the brake is not depressed. This means that brake lights will stay illuminated, even when the driver is accelerating, increasingly crash risk. This August, Hyundai issued a similar recall for 64,500 Elantra sedans from 2013 for the same brake problem.
The NHTSA has recently opened an investigation into an even more serious potential brake issue with Hyundai’s 2016 Sonata. There have been multiple reports of rear brakes locking while the car is in motion. Although no injuries have yet been reported, one complaint included a rear wheel fire occurring as a result of the brake lock.
In August of 2014, Hyundai was given a $17 million dollar federal fine for failing to report and recall the corrosive brake malfunction in their 2009-1012 Genesis models. The defect can cause the brake system to corrode over time, making stopping more difficult and increasing the risk of accident.
A class action lawsuit was filed against Hyundai in May of 2015 in regards to alleged engine failure in 2011-2015 Sonatas. The lawsuit states that the rotating assembly in the engine carries a defect which causes the engine to seize fail at any time while driving. It further argues that Hyundai knew of this engine malfunction and failed to inform owners of the potential danger associated with it. This lawsuit was recently settled, and Hyundai will be required to provide reimbursements for all past costs associated with this defect, along with free inspections, repair, and an extended warranty.
Hyundai has recently issued a recall for 62,811 Sonatas from 2015 and 2016 due to a potential defect in the sunroof. This comes after multiple reports of sunroofs becoming detached and flying off the roof while the car was being operated. The problem is directly connected to a weak adhesive used for the wind deflector which is designed to reduce noise from the sunroof. In December of 2015, a class action lawsuit was filed against Hyundai for a similar issue. Although Hyundai issued a recall, they did not warn owners of the danger that the defect caused. In this case, multiple owners reported the sunroof suddenly shattering and falling onto the driver and passenger without warning. The models with this alleged defect include Hyundai’s 2011 to 2015 Sonata, Tucson and Veloster, and its 2013 to 2015 Santa Fe, Santa Fe Sport and Elantra GT.
Cars use a substantial number of parts from various manufacturers in the US and abroad. We trust multinational corporations to investigate the quality of their suppliers in order to insure a safe product. Unfortunately, subcontracted parts may not always adhere to the quality standards we expect. The US National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA) is currently investigating airbag inflators made by the company ARC Automotive Inc. based in Knoxville, Tennessee.
The investigation began in July of 2015 when two incidences of driver injury occurred due to ruptures in the airbag inflators. In July of this year, however, the matter became fatal. A woman in Newfoundland, Canada was killed when an ARC inflator ruptured, sending fragments of metal shrapnel into the cabin of her 2009 Hyundai Elantra.
Hyundai Forced to Pay $73 Million in Punitive Damages
In 2014, Hyundai was ordered by the court to pay $73 million in punitive damages to the families of two boys, aged 14 and 19, who were killed in an automobile accident involving a 2005 Hyundai Tiburon. This amount was reduced from the original award of $248 million which Hyundai appealed. The families alleged that a certain component of the car called the steering knuckle cracked spontaneously while the boys were driving which caused the car to swerve and collide with an oncoming vehicle.
Representation for Colorado Personal Injury Victims
In a culture where driving is a necessary part of everyday life, it is important that we can rely on our vehicles to take us where we need to go safely. If you’ve experienced sudden or unexpected vehicle malfunction, you know how scary it can be, especially if you’ve sustained injury. At the Law Firm of Jeremy Rosenthal, we will help you file a claim and navigate the complex world of automaker litigation. Contact us today at (303) 852-2223 to set up your free case consultation.