Hyundai Forum: Hyundai Performance Forum banner
1 - 7 of 7 Posts

· Registered
24 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Here is somthing I saw in a local paper today...also found the link at

<b>Hyundai Faces Hundreds of Santa Fe Engine Failures</b>
Source: The Orange County Register
Publication date: 2002-01-08

Jan. 8--Hyundai's new Santa Fe sport utility vehicles have been plagued by hundreds of engine failures that the company has not disclosed to customers or regulators, interviews and documents obtained by The Orange Register show.
Nearly 300 engines built in Korea and installed in 2001 Santa Fes shipped to the U.S. have seized and failed, sparking a multi-million-dollar effort by the Fountain Valley-based distributor to quickly repair the cars and make other concessions to keep customers happy.

Detailed lists of the V-6 engine failures show that cylinder liners cracked or slipped inside the block on Santa Fes with as few as 18 miles, in one case while a prospective customer was on a test drive. When that happens the piston slams the loose metal against the cylinder head and the engine is destroyed.

Other engines went 1,000 to 12,000 miles before failing -- frequently while owners were driving at freeway speeds, the documents show.

"The engine failed at 1,600 miles. It just bucked a little bit and then stopped. We had to coast from the center lane over to the shoulder on (Interstate) 80. We were lucky there wasn't much traffic," said Lorraine Chatterton of Petaluma.

"We had 3,000 miles (on the car) and the engine stopped," said Alyce Breshears, 66, of the Fresno County town of Sanger. "When it happened I said my Hail Mary's that we were not out on the highway and that I was not alone. Thank God I don't have small babies."

It's not known if the engine failures resulted in any crashes or injuries. The company said no one was injured when the engines failed.

The failures could be particularly embarrassing for the Korean company, which has tried to shed its former image of poor workmanship and reliability, auto marketing experts said. The Santa Fe, in particular, has been hailed as a quality product and helped Hyundai to outsell Japanese rivals Mitsubishi and Mazda last year. Federal law requires manufacturers to report within five days of discovery any defect that could be a safety hazard.

Hyundai officials have known about the problems since November of 2000. But they have never reported the problem to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The full extent of the problem is unclear.

"They are obligated to tell us as soon as they realize they've got a problem," said Liz Neblett, a spokeswoman for NHTSA. "It's very possible that the Office of Defect Investigation would consider this a safety hazard. We'd love to hear about what happened from Hyundai owners." Chuck Halper, vice president of service for Hyundai Motor America, confirmed that there have been 290 engine failures since November of 2000 plus as many as six failures of replacement engines.

Halper said Hyundai did not report the problems to NHTSA because the company doesn't believe it is a safety issue.

"We looked at it very carefully to make sure it was not a safety or emissions-related issue. That was in association with our parent company (Hyundai Motor Company) and our engineering and legal community."

But automotive experts contacted by The Register didn't agree.

"They should announce it because somebody out there could have a failure going down the freeway. Losing power at speed in the middle of traffic is dangerous," said Gordon Wangers, managing director of Automotive Marketing Consultants Inc., of Vista. "You could warn consumers to be wary, to put it in neutral and coast over if a failure does occur. They should have some communication with customers."

Hyundai data documenting the failures show that the engines involved were installed in cars manufactured in Korea between July and November of 2000.

Halper said the company discovered the cylinder liner problem in November of 2000 and switched to a thicker liner. He said none of the new engines have failed. The replacement engines failed because technicians did not clean all the metal debris out of engine manifolds and plumbing before installing new engines, he said.

Halper characterized the failures as a very small percentage of the 66,000 Santa Fe's sold by Hyundai, and said the company has no plans to notify either NHTSA or Santa Fe owners.

"Keep in mind that the defect rate is very low," Halper said. "I wouldn't know what to tell (owners). I might also tell them there is a problem that your CD player might jam."

Hyundai officials said they did not know how many Santa Fe's with the problem engines were sent to the U.S. but that the company sold about 7,000 V6 Santa Fes in the US in 2000. The officials acknowledged that some of the early models were likely also sold in 2001.

In addition to paying for one, and sometimes two new engines at $4,500 apiece, documents show the company has made owners' monthly payments, given them tow hitches or stereos, upgraded them to Hyundai's XG300 luxury car, or bought them out for cash.

"This is an important investment these customers have made; they put the confidence in our brand," Halper said. "We thought this was an opportunity to show we stand behind our product."

Wangers and other auto consultants praised Hyundai for doing the right thing for customers who have experienced the engine failures.

"Hyundai has made huge (quality) strides in recent years. I wouldn't say this is reason to say the sky is falling on Hyundai vehicles. All manufacturers have these problems," Wangers said. But he added, "This is a pretty big problem. It's particularly sensitive in Hyundai's case because there are still a lot of people who remember their previous reputation for bad quality. From a public relations standpoint it could be unfavorable for this to get out."

After coming to this country with a splash 16 years ago, Hyundai was damaged by reliability problems with the Excel compact. In 1987 the company sold 263,610 cars in the U.S. By 1998 sales were down to 90,000 and the company was laying off U.S. employees. Hyundai's U.S. executive, Finbarr O'Neill, called it "a disaster."

Starting in 1999, Hyundai countered those perceptions head-on by offering a 10-year, 100,000-mile warranty and snappy ads advertising "A decade of dependability."

The company's sales have exploded.

Last year the company sold 346,235 vehicles in the U.S., a 42 percent increase over 2000, putting it seventh in U.S. sales, ahead of Mitsubishi, Mazda and Mercedes.

More than 56,000 of those vehicles were Santa Fe SUVs, a new category for Hyundai. The Santa Fe is a mini sport utility vehicle, based on a car chassis that competes with the new Ford Escape and Mazda Tribute, the Toyota RAV 4, and the Honda CRX.

The Santa Fe has been very well received by customers, and recently won first in owner satisfaction when pitted against the Toyota, the Honda and seven other compact sport utilities by AutoPacific, the Santa Ana auto marketing consultants.

But Hyundai's quality problems aren't all behind them.

Last year Hyundai had to recall more than 150,000 Accents, Elantras, Sonatas, Tiburons and XG300 luxury sedans for faults ranging from defective air bags to throttle controls and ignition faults that could stall the car at speed. That's nearly half the cars sent to this country.

Every year manufacturers announce hundreds of recalls affecting millions of vehicles. But Hyundai would certainly not be the first manufacturer to resist a federal recall.

Ford Motor Co. battled federal regulators in court for years in an effort to stop a recall of 12 million vehicles that could stall because of a flawed ignition system. Ford finally settled the case on October, agreeing to reimburse owners of 29 models of cars and trucks built between 1983 and 1995.

Some Santa Fe owners contacted by The Register said the engine failures and other problems that have cropped up since then have made them wary of the little SUV they once loved.

Breshears, the Sanger owner, said she and her husband "sweated it out" on their first trip to the coast after getting a new engine installed.

"We got back just fine but then later the little red engine light came on and we had to take it in five times to get that fixed."

Hyundai offered to pay one $500-plus monthly payment and special ordered a dash cover for their car. But Breshears still worries about reliability.

"I couldn't ask for a better air conditioner, heater or leather seats," she said. "I really thought that for the money we were getting an excellent buy but it's just the mechanical problems we've had ... to me they really let us down."

-- By Chris Knap and Elizabeth Aguilera


To see more of The Orange County Register, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to

(c) 2002, The Orange County Register, Calif. Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News. MMTOF, MZDAF, DCX, F, TOYOY, HMC,

Publication date: 2002-01-08

<hr noshade width=60% size=1 align=left>

· Registered
8,316 Posts
Wow. That's gonna hurt the 2003 Tiburon sales.

<hr width=60% noshade size=1 align=left>"Hey, if my prize is your foot up my arse... its still a prize.... " - <b>WhoopOi</b>

<a href="">Shop.HyundaiPerformance.Com</a>, your one-stop shop for Hyundai performance parts (coming soon)

· Registered
118 Posts
Yeah, that's really all they need right now. Just as their reputation was getting better again, this happens. Like he article said, all car companies have problems, but this is particularly critical in Hyundai's case. It'll be interesting to see what happens...

<hr width=60% noshade size=1 align=left>

· Registered
5,558 Posts
D'oh! <img src="" border=0>

<hr width=60% noshade size=1 align=left>-Mouse

Question: How does a blind man know when to stop wiping?

· Registered
21,319 Posts
<BLOCKQUOTE id=quote>quote:<hr height=1 noshade id=quote>"You could warn consumers to be wary, to put it in neutral and coast over if a failure does occur. They should have some communication with customers." <hr height=1 noshade id=quote></BLOCKQUOTE id=quote>

If a driver can not figure that one out on their own then they should not be driving.<img src=/images/forums/snitz/uhh.gif width=15 height=15 border=0>

<hr width=60% noshade size=1 align=left><b>I absolutely positively abhor and verbally bitchslap anyone who starts quoting me their entire car mods as some sort of "Stage".~RED~</b><img src=/images/forums/snitz/wink.gif width=15 height=15 border=0>

1 - 7 of 7 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.