How Big Corporations Give Their Consumers the Runaround to Save a Buck.
I have a Hyundai Sonata 2012 with over 140k miles. It is mostly a good car that has taken me on many of my adventures throughout the US since 2015. I still remember my solo drive to Okefenokee Swamp, an odyssey to understand the edge of the Everglades and crocodile country. Yes, I rode in a flat-bottom boat in the swamp—with the local tourists who had never seen the likes of me on the tour with them! But I have to write another travel blog about that. Let's get back to the car. The point is the car served me well.
Hyundai announced their most recent product recall in 2023: "In 2017, Hyundai and Kia got accused of engine defects in several models that led to fires, as well as engine failure."
Subsequently, this class action lawsuit was filed. The lawsuit was brought on behalf of over 4 million car owners, and the companies agreed to a settlement of $760 million.
I was traveling and asked a friend to take the car to a Hyundai dealership in Atlanta for a diagnosis and repair. The dealership said they had no loaner vehicle, nor could they indicate how long it would take to fix. Subsequently, she could not leave work for all this unknown and continued driving a car that I later found out could be unsafe.
I finally got an appointment a month out due to many people trying to get a fix for their recall. Again, they had no loaner because as one of the agents said, "Clients crash the cars all the time." Likely, a few clients crashed a few cars, but I doubt it got so bad that there was a need to abolish loaner cars as a customer service. It certainly reduced the likelihood that my friend would buy a Hyundai. She gets a loaner from Honda Motors, her regular car.
They offered a Lyft ride no more than 12 miles from the dealership, and we had to get back on our own. Later, I got a call that the car needed to be at the garage for 48 hours. It was there for 72. I had to rent a car to get around. Great job, Hyundai.
I had a very friendly service agent at the Hyundai dealership garage service center—their subpar service being no fault of hers. She described herself as Latina from the waist down! I deserved that because I was teasing her in friendly banter. I later had a conversation with her supervisor, noting to him that returning the vehicle to me assumes that the vehicle is safe and will not catch fire. He informed me that I must keep an eye on the oil and top it up to prevent it from ruining the engine or catching fire. Later in his office, he explained the damage that was likely happening to the vehicle but noted that his bosses wouldn't let him replace my engine, even though that was obviously the need. He said he would be ready to put a new engine in, but he needs permission from Hyundai Corp.
They refused even to check the car for engine damage and oil leak consumption—a $350.00 test. They alleged that I was out of mileage, 20,000 over. So, they leave the defective engine to deteriorate with oil consumption and likely cause engine failure. I am expected to continue driving putting people at risk because it is the extended warranty for the class action lawsuit. I can't expect even basic safety from a vehicle. It's an interesting example of a company that runs amock while making money and refuses to take responsibility when the results of their poor management and performance affect their bottom line. I get it; they want to stop the bleeding, but I don't want me or anyone else to die in their vehicles, nor do I want to pay for their mistakes.
A quick Google search will reveal all manner of recalls by Hyundai from 2011-2023, some requiring owners to leave their cars away from buildings and structures lest they set fire to everything around them. Hyundai has recalled over 113,000 vehicles in North America over fire risk. A quick check on one of the class action lawsuit websites reveals that my VIN number is not on the list. Yet, I must keep an eye on the oil, adding two quarts every two weeks.
NO MATCH FOUND: Sorry, this Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) has not been matched with an eligible Class Vehicle. Please be sure that the entered VIN has been correctly entered and try again. If you have questions about this VIN Lookup tool, please contact the Settlement Administrator at: Kia Engine Class Settlement, Settlement Administration, P.O. Box 4133, Portland, OR 97208-4133, 1-800-944-1025 (Toll-Free), info@KiaEngineClassSettlement.com
Hi Elliott, this is [Desk Agent @ Hyundai]. I was calling you because I had looked up the information on the PA that we submitted. It says this fire approval request was reviewed based on the information provided HMA, which is Hyundai motor. Is declining to applied assistance due to the malfunction being out of warranty caused by the time and service and mileage of the vehicle. So that's the reason behind the not approving the oil consumption test. The only other options would be for you to follow the recommendations, but you said, you know, you're not comfortable doing that and that's fine. If you want to pick up the vehicle that that would be okay. I'm going to be here until 7:00 this evening. So just let me know what you'd like to do. Thank you very much, bye-bye.
The mechanic described what was happening in the engine. The crankshaft develops a rough surface of deposits from oil burning instead of pure gasoline. Ethanol in our gas does not help. Leaving your car to sit for too long leads to a build-up of deposits from Ethanol, something older cars are ill-equipped to deal with. I first noticed the oil issue when my oil like came on one day while the engine rattled. I panicked, checked, and realized it was almost empty. I filled it back up but was confused because I could see no oil leak. A simple oil change informed me that I had the recall, not a letter to me. The complaint is common among many with a Hyundai.
So, now I am left to wrestle with a company that is riddled with lawsuits, recalls, and likely bleeding money while I drive a car that will stop on the road any day. Like a full-time job, I must call and write to fight them for recompense. I never got a discount because the car was defective, nor was I informed before purchasing, or else I would have bought something else.
If you have a Hyundai and suspect you have issues, call 1-800-633-5151. To save them money and hassle, they will not speak to you. I have yet to speak to a human, and the automatic customer service is non-responsive after I tell it my VIN number for the last hour. Hey, someone answered and was very helpful. Did he solve my problem? No! Am I still filling out a million forms online and calling to get help fixing the car? Yes!
Quiz: What will my next vehicle be?
This guy has an explanation that seems plausible. Many people do.
Okay, time for some advertisement fun in Travelingmailbox. Read to the end.
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