2011 Hyundai SonataEnlarge Photo
2010 may be the lunar Year of the Tiger, but if things continue as they have, it could be remembered as the Year of the Recall for many Asian automakers. Not only are Japan's Toyota and Honda up to their eyeballs in fixes, but now Korean automaker Hyundai has announced that it's issuing a voluntary recall for the 2011 Hyundai Sonata. According to Reuters, the company has discovered that front door locks on the 2011 Sonata may be prone to stick. The recall affects 1,300 Sonatas in the U.S. and roughly 46,000 units manufactured in South Korea.
On the downside, the recall comes at a terrible time for Hyundai -- a brand that saw significant growth in the U.S. during 2009, even as the rest of the auto market hit the skids. Hyundai has been receiving great press for its cars and for its thoughtful Assurance Program, and although analysts feel that the recall will have a negligible effect on sales, it may have a larger effect on the company's image. In fact, due to confusion and/or xenophobia, Hyundai's recall may get jumbled up with the Toyota fiasco in the minds of some buyers, making them wary of Asian-brand automobiles in general. Whether Hyundai can achieve its goal of a 4.5% market share in the U.S. in 2010 remains a matter of speculation.
On the upside, this recall is voluntary, and Hyundai seems to be getting out in front of the problem -- something the folks at Toyota clearly failed to do. Also, a recall for front-door locks is likely to be seen as a minor problem by the general public, one that poses far less of a safety hazard than sudden acceleration or failing brakes. And given the relatively small size of the U.S. recall, it will impact a very small number of owners.
It appears that the recall won't technically be issued until next week, but if you own a 2011 Hyundai Sonata, it wouldn't hurt to call your dealer now.