Will The Latest Sonata Recall Dampen Hyundai's Success?

September 28, 2010

Readers who follow this website know that I’m a big fan of what Hyundai has been doing in the U.S. market over the last few years. They have worked hard to put out stylish, well-built cars that have garnered positive reviews from those of us in the auto industry and consumers alike. Hyundai has been succeeding at leaving its image of a bargain-basement car maker behind.

Time will tell how much damage the latest recall will have Hyundai’s effort to rebuild its image. For the moment, consumers are more concerned about the 139,500 Sonata sedans that have been recalled for steering problems.

A Safety Issue

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says the recall is based on a potentially dangerous steering issue. Connections between universal joints and a steering shaft in the steering column may have not tightened enough or been improperly assembled. If the connections come apart the driver could lose steering completely.

Dealership technicians need to inspect the steering mechanism to make sure it's assembled properly and tightened sufficiently. The recall affects as many as 139,500 Sonata’s built between Dec. 11, 2009 and September 10, 2010. The repair process is expected to begin next month.

Trying Harder

Back in 1998, Hyundai took a significant step that had a big impact on winning the hearts and minds of consumers. It instituted a 10-year, 100,000-mile power train warranty for original owners. It was a clear signal to consumers that Hyundai would stand behind their product. That, combined with a growing recognition of improved quality, a larger line-up of models, and cutting edge design, has helped turn around Hyundai’s negative image.

When I was an Internet Manager for a major car dealer, it was becoming obvious to those inside the industry that Hyundai was an up and coming force to be reckoned with in the competitive automotive marketplace. The ultimate proof of Hyundai’s success was the fact that consumers began flocking to it’s dealerships in big numbers. Time will tell if the latest recall puts a damper on Hyundai’s recent success.

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