Increasing Hyundai Recalls in United States

Everyone is aware of the General Motors recall of around 1.5 million vehicles due to the faulty ignition switches which can shut off the engine at any time and the vehicle can end up in a crash. Even reports of several deaths across the United States were received due  to the fault switches. Now its Hyundai, which has recalled its various models which includes Sonata sedans, Santa Fe Crossover and Veracruz SUV’s.

All these recalls are made for several issues which involves defective transmission shift cable, corrosion of suspension springs, oil leakage from engine and brake problems. All these things are related to the safety aspect of the passengers driving the vehicle. It is good to know that Hyundai has not received any report of crash accidents happened due to the malfunction in the above mentioned systems.  Recall will ensure that all the issues in the vehicles will be solved at the dealerships with no cost form the customer. Now, we will look at various Hyundai vehicles which are recalled and the issues reported in them.

8,83,000 SONATA SEDANS RECALLED FOR TRANSMISSION ISSUES:

Hyundai has recalled about 8, 83, 000 mid-sized sonata sedans due to problems with the the transmission shift cable. The vehicles manufactured from 2011 to 2014 will be inspected and repaired at the dealerships. As per U.S safety regulators, the transmission shift cable might get detached from the shift lever and thus would not provide the gear given by the driver and which might result in improper handling of the vehicle and finally to a fatal crash.

A driver can select the park position but as the gears are not matching, the vehicle might just roll down. According to NHTSA( National Highway Traffic Safety Administration), around 8,80,000 vehicles were sold in United States and rest in Puerto Rico. Hyundai is notifying all the affected vehicle customers through e-mail.

Hyundai Sonata recall
Hyundai Sonata (Source: yahoo.com)

1,33,075 SONATA RECALLED FOR BRAKE LINE ISSUES:

About 1, 33, 075 Sonata Sedans manufactured between December 11, 2009 to September,1  2010 are recalled by Hyundai for problems in the brake lines. There are chances of brake fluid leakage from the brake lines connected from the master cylinder to the Hydraulic Electronic control unit due to insufficient sealing. Brake fluid leakage will result in longer stopping distance and would raise the safety concern of the passengers. Brake hoses will be replaced by a new part free of cost.

2, 25, 000 SANTA FE CROSSOVER SUV’S RECALLED FOR COIL SPRINGS REPAIR:

According to NHTSA, Hyundai has recalled 2,25, 000 Santa FE Crossover SUV’s from the 21 salt belt states. The models manufactured from 2001-2006 are being recalled. Road salt which is used in winter can lead to the corrosion of the front suspension coil springs and finally break them. Broken springs can lead to tire puncture which might cause a fatal crash. The vehicles are being recalled from various districts like Columbia, Indiana , Iowa, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, New jersey, Ohio etc.  Hyundai will be notifying the customers and the coil springs will be replaced at free of cost. The recall is expected to start by September 2014 ending.

Hyundai Santa Fe recall
Hyundai Santa Fe (Source: google.com)

61,222 VERACRUZ RECALLED FOR OIL LEAKAGE:

Veracruz manufactured from December 26, 2012 -July 24, 2012 are being recalled by Hyundai due to oil leakage from the engine cylinder head. If oil gets dropped on the alternator, operation of the charging system might become non-operational. This would resulting in loss of power from the engine and finally the vehicle would stop down. The trailing drivers might get panicked by the sudden slowing down of the vehicle.

Hyundai Vercaruz recall
Hyundai Vercaruz (Source: yahoo.com)

BOTTOM LINE:

All the above mentioned recalls are majorly associated with the safety of all the occupants in the vehicle. It is important that the issues are found out very early and thus avoiding any fatal accidents. There has been huge number of recent recalls in United States with the General Motors recall being the most talked about. General Motors was also fined for the same. In India, also there have been recalls by Maruti Suzuki, Mahindra and Mahindra, Ford India etc.

The recall policies are being examined by the transport ministry. Also there are possibilities of strict norm against the recall by the vehicle manufacturers. The vehicle manufacturers need to take appropriate steps in order to avoid such recalls. This can be done at the early stage of the complete vehicle validation and testing. They can also approach customers who are the final users of the vehicle. Addressing of their issue through dealers help them identify the problems which might be region specific, part specific etc. In short they can obtain the details regarding any continuous faults being faced in the vehicle. NO recall will ensure higher levels of automotive safety from the manufacturers point of view and will certainly help in avoiding fatal accidents.

The General Motors Recall Fiasco

General Motors has taken the throne for the largest number of recalls in the history of the world wide automotive sector. It has continuously been plagued by recalls right from 2006. Ever since its first recall it has been down hill with the latest recall calling over 8.4 million vehicles world wide and is expected to set the company’s kitty back by over $1.2 billion.

General Motors Logo

The Ignition Switch Snafu

An issue with the ignition key switch was identified and dealerships handed out key inserts to solve the problem to 474 of the cars. Tests almost 5 years earlier by GM engineers showed this problem. So early, that the car was in a pre-production stage. The mechanism that holds the ignition key in place was at fault and it was redesigned.

In 2003, a service technician observed something peculiar. A Saturn Ion was stalling when the car was being driven by several other keys on the key ring. According to his report, “the additional weight of the keys had worn out the ignition switch”

A similar problem started appearing in the Chevrolet Cobalts which share a similar mechanism. A redesign of the head of the key was proposed and this idea was later scrapped because the fix was too expensive. However, the supplier was informed and the change was made to the newer models coming into production from 2007. During this change the part number wasn’t updated so no one at the operations or production stage knew about this fix.

At an auto safety regulations meeting, a 2005 cobalt crash was brought up during which the airbags of the car did not deploy. Over the period of the year, 10 such fatal incidents are discovered by GM.

GM then allocated an engineer to look at why these crashes saw no airbags being deployed. He discovered something shocking, in four of the nine crashes, the ignition switch was not at the run position. They were almost going to be investigated by the National Highway Safety Traffic Administration but the official wanting to investigate was stopped by others in his department citing lack of warrant for the investigation.

In the year 2011, a fresh investigation was started for front crashes involving frontal impacts of cobalts where airbags did not deploy. The ignition switches from the defunct vehicles were picked up and tested. By 2012 the complete fraud involving the change of switches from 2007 model vehicle models were revealed.

Further assessment confirmed that the design was indeed changed for the models produced after 2007. A committee considers the recall of all pre 2007 models of Chevrolet Cobalts and Pontiac G5’s.

General Motors Recall Fiasco

The recall was initiated in the first week of February 2014 when over 8,00,000 Chevrolet Cobalts and Pontiag G5’s were called in to fix the problem. In a couple of weeks another 6,00,000 vehicles like the Chevrolet HHR, Saturn Ion, Saturn Sky and the Pontiac Solstice were called in.

Simultaneously the U.S. Auto Safety Regulator investigates if GM acted quick enough to fix the problem. The GM CEO, Mary Barra goes into damage control mode by defending how they were managing the recall and promises an internal review.

GM CEO Mary Barra

“We will hold ourselves accountable and improve our processes so our customers do not experience this again. Repairs to recalled cars should start in early April.” – GM CEO

Immediately, they hired a couple of external legal firms and they started investigation into the series of events that led up to this recall.

The justice department too launches a criminal investigation to find out why the recall was delayed as the problem was known at a very early stage.

GM then expands its recall by calling in 8,24,000 cars that were sold in the US. This brought the grand total to over 2.6 million cars worldwide. All for the same problem with the ignition switch.

Barra and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Administrator David Friedman testified before congress this April. She said that she had no idea why it took 10 years to recall the cars and that GM is working on determining how to compensate victims involved in the crashes. Friedman contended that GM was not reveling critical information that would have helped identify this defect.

A Check Plan Issued by GM
A Check Plan Issued by GM

The recalls began in the second week of April where all affected vehicles were repaired free of cost. Three days later, an additional problem is discovered by GM in the already recalled vehicles and the additional part is also replaced to solve the problem.

2014 chevrolet camaro ss

A faulty key for the Camaro saw 5,12,000 units of the iconic car being recalled.

This complete fiasco saw a complete re-structure in their engineering and quality departments, 15 employees being dismissed and saw the company pay a fine to the tune of $35 million to settle the federal probe and a package of $1 million is offered as compensation to the families of victims involved in crashes involving defected cars manufactured by GM.

Last month an additional 8.4 million vehicles, yes, 8.4 million are recalled for a faulty ignition switch.

The Wiring, Seat Belt & Overheating Related Recalls. 

Problems didn’t end for GM with the ignition switch recall. In May, the recalled 3 million cars including the 2004-2012 Chevrolet Malibu, the 2004-2007 Chevrolet Malibu Maxx, the 2005-2010 Pontiac G6, as well as 2007-2010 Saturn Auras.

The wiring problems caused the brake lights to fail and they wouldn’t light up when the brakes are applied and they would light up when the brakes were not depressed. This could also lead to features such as Cruise Control, Traction Control, Electronic Stability Control and Panic Braking Assist to malfunction.

A problem which saw the front seat belt separate from the car during a crash situation saw the recall of 2.4 million cars and trucks in the US that included the Buick Enclave, Chevrolet Traverse, GMC Acadia and Saturn Outlook. 

Further, 2,18,000 Chevrlet Aveos (Optra in the US) were recalled due to the overheating of the DRL (Day Time Running Light) module which had risks of catching fire.

Bottom Line: 

This simply shows that the value of a life is irreplaceable and there is a structure in place in countries abroad to prevent mishaps due to faulty engineering from the companies side. Even the company feels socially responsible to fix such issues.

I wonder how long it will take for such measure to enter the Indian market and how many cases that will come tumbling out of Indian manufacturers who are simply ignorant on such matters. An industry where safety is not even on the list of design objectives and where price, space and fuel economy take precedence over safety.