March 30, 2019
Dear Car Talk:
I purchased my first Hyundai, a new 2015 Santa Fe Sport with a 2.4L GDI Turbo engine.
My decision to purchase a Hyundai vehicle was influenced by the local dealer’s statement of core values – Integrity, Outstanding Customer Service, Continuous Improvement… (you get the picture) – and Hyundai’s 10 year/ 100,000 mile warranty.
Just to be on the safe side, I reviewed the 2015 ConsumerReports Best SUVs and Trucks. There was no mention of failing engines. What I found was the Hyundai Santa Fe Sport was one of the recommended models by Consumer Reports. The Reliability History report gave the top, “Better” rating, for the model years 10, 11, 12 and 13. And for 2014, one step down at a “1/2 Better.” What could go wrong, right?
At 73-yrs of age, I should have known that if it sounds too good to be true, maybe it isn’t. But no, I thought I had this in hand. Then In December, 2018, I had the vehicle in to the dealer for the routine 15,000 mile service. They said there was a recall, computer software addition/update was required, and they would take care of it for me. They did. When I picked up the vehicle, there was no mention of the ramifications related to the software update.
Weeks later in December 2018, I received a notice from Hyundai, a Product Improvement - Knock Sensor Detection System Software Update - was required. The “Improvement Campaign” goes on to describe how when the computer senses excessive connecting rod bearing wear in the engine, how they are protecting me, by allowing me to drive the vehicle for a “limited time” in “Limp Home Mode.” Sure is a lot of double speak here. This was when I began to understand the seriousness of this update.
I have tried, unsuccessfully, to learn more from Hyundai. They direct me back to the dealer. Researching this specific issue on line, I find that this Hyundai engine has been failing since 2011. Apparently Hyundai cannot figure out how to design/manufacture a reliable engine.
The service manager at the dealership has helped by recounting his years of experience with this issue. His experience is the failures cannot be predicted. His experience is that there are low and high mileage failures, and failures of engines with a history of both good and bad maintenance records.
• The Campaign 953 “Limp Home Mode” is not a solution to the engine’s defect, but rather a way to shift the burden of a costly fix for the design/manufacture flaw/failure to the consumer. It is dodging the cost of responsibly addressing these issues through abdication and procrastination of their responsibility as an automobile manufacturer.
• Our dealer is acting complicit with Hyundai Motor America by actively concealing the design flaw(s) from us at the time of sales, and at the latest service. Knowing of the defect in this vehicle, they continue to sell it to the present day. Apparently, the economics of continuing their relationship with Hyundai outweigh customer service/care. This past week, they stopped returning my calls.
So, your thinking of the movie “A Few Good Men” right now – specifically the scene where Ross asks the judge during Kaffee’s examination of Col Jessup, “Is there a question here?” Well, yes there are a number of questions:
• what is the Limp Home Speed?
• how far will the vehicle go in Limp Home mode?
• is engine failure a when not if situation?
• if the vehicle goes into involuntary Limp Home Mode while traveling in northern Ontario, Canada for a fishing trip, possibly 200 miles from the only Hyundai dealership in the area, what is the owner to do?
• what is the fix?