The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has launched an investigation of the 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe. According to a summary report posted to the agency's website, NHTSA has been contacted by two Santa Fe owners who say that the right-front axle shafts on their vehicles have failed.
Why would NHTSA begin a probe based on just two complaints? There are at least three good reasons:
- For starters, an axle failure is a very serious problem. It disables the vehicle, and if the failure were to happen while the car was moving, the results could be very, very unpleasant. (Thankfully, NHTSA says that no deaths or injuries have resulted from the two failures on record.)
- Also, axle failures are unusual on such new vehicles. The owners who filed the complaints say that the failures occurred before their vehicles had racked up 5,000 miles on the odometer.
- Finally, other evidence suggests that this could be a widespread problem. In its summary cited above, NHTSA says that the "Office of Defects Investigation's review of Early Warning data submitted by Hyundai identified additional field report data related to the alleged defect." We don't know precisely what that means, but it's possible that Hyundai knew about similar or related problems on the 2013 Santa Fe.
If NHTSA's preliminary evaluation casts sufficient doubt on the quality of Santa Fe axles, the agency will order an engineering analysis for further study. Depending on the results of that probe, NHTSA may choose to initiate a recall, which would involve at least 50,000 vehicles in the U.S.
We're still a long way from that point, but we'll keep you posted as the investigation proceeds.
[via the New York Times]