Americans who own a Hyundai Sonata are finding out it isn’t quite the car they thought it was. Many Sonata owners have suffered catastrophic engine failure—often only 60,000 miles into the vehicle’s life span. Our attorneys are now investigating a possible lawsuit to help car owners recover their damages.
If you own a Hyundai Sonata and have experienced knocking noises, engine hesitating or seizing up, or outright engine failure, we would like to speak with you. You may have grounds for a financial recovery and a fully repaired, safe car—at no cost to you. John Foy & Associates is one of the largest and most experienced car defect law firms in the country. Call us at 404-400-4000 and get a free consultation today.
What’s wrong with the Hyundai Sonata?
Some Hyundai Sonatas will drive fine for years. But many contain a hidden defect that will eventually fail, often between 60,000 and 90,000 miles into use. Symptoms of the defect include a cyclical knocking noise coming from the engine. However, many Sonatas simply fail without warning.
The failure is because of how the engine was built. Since the mid-2000’s the Hyundai Sonata has used a specific 4-cylinder engine known as the Theta II. Starting in model year 2011, the Theta II was manufactured in Hyundai’s Alabama engine factory. The Sonata engines were the first ones built there, and early manufacturing methods were flawed.
The defect lies in the engine’s crankshaft, a crucial part of the rotating assembly. The Alabama factory originally used a mechanical de-burring process to “clean up” the crankshaft. This process is used to remove metallic debris after the machining process—essentially, sharp fragments of metal (“burrs”) that will wear down engine parts if not removed. The de-burring process did not work as anticipated and many Sonatas have rotating assemblies full of metallic debris.
By mid-2012 Hyundai switched to a wet blast procedure to remove the debris. The switch suggests that the company knew the old de-burring process wasn’t working, and suspected that some debris was getting through. But the company did not act to warn owners or recall engines at that time.
What could happen if I have one of the faulty engines in my Sonata?
For many Sonata owners, the defect means a total failure of the engine while the car is moving. This is both a frightening and risky experience.
The metal debris inside the crankshaft does more than just cause wear and tear. It can actively block oil flow. This stops oil from reaching the connecting rod bearings, which can overheat and fail. The failure is sudden with little or no warning.
Any of the following may be related to the defect:
- Knocking noise while the engine is running
- Engine hesitating or seizing up
- Engine fires
- Complete engine failure
Is the defect dangerous?
It is potentially dangerous. Many of the engine failures happen while the car is in motion, often at highway speeds. It is the running of the engine itself that eventually causes the defect to become a full blown failure. Having a sudden engine failure on the road does not necessarily cause a crash, but it does mean a total loss of engine power and speed, and a sense of loss of control over the vehicle. It is possible for this event to lead to an accident.
Additionally, the defect may cause engine fires, which can be highly dangerous.
After losing engine power like this, some Sonata owners have been able to re-start their car and move it off the road. Others cannot restart it. Stopping in moving traffic is also clearly hazardous.
At this time, no injuries related to the defect have been reported. But if this happens to you, you should calmly pull over with what remaining momentum you have. After making sure you are safely out of traffic you should speak to a lawyer.
Is Hyundai liable? Did they know about the problem?
Lawsuits have been filed against Hyundai. Some of these lawsuits allege that the automaker did know about the defect. Legally, they either “knew or should have known” that their engines contained debris and could fail. This meets the standard for negligence, which means that Hyundai is liable for the full cost of damages and replacements.
But Hyundai’s callous attitude goes much farther. The manufacturer received numerous warranty claims relating to failed engines. Instead of handling the repairs, which were its own fault, the automaker allegedly denied claims on frivolous grounds. According to the lawsuits, Hyundai asked each car owner to submit a detailed maintenance history of the engine, then denied the claim either because there wasn’t enough documentation or because the owners supposedly didn’t maintain it well enough. But no amount of maintenance could have helped—the engines were faulty from the day they left the factory.
Outrage over the way Hyundai handled the defect led to a large scale recall. This recall can help people who haven’t had an engine failure yet, but it does nothing to return to the money to Sonata owners who already paid for expensive repairs.
What specific models are affected?
The current recall applies to nearly a half million vehicles. Yours might be one of them if:
- You own a Hyundai Sonata from the 2011 and 2012 model years
- It has either the 2.0-liter turbo or 2.4-liter version of the 4-cylinder Theta II engine
You can look up your vehicle to see if it’s affected on Hyundai’s recall lookup page.
The same engine, built at the same plant, is also used in:
- Hyundai Santa Fe SUVs
- Kia Optima sedans
- Kia Sorento SUVs
If you have had similar problems with any of these vehicles, you could also have a case.
What should I do if my vehicle I faulty?
If you own a Hyundai Sonata and you had to pay out of pocket for repairs or a new engine, you have been wronged. John Foy & Associates is investigating potential legal action to help you get a complete financial recovery. We will sit down with you for a FREE consultation and discuss your case. Call us at 404-400-4000 and get your free consultation today.