October 24, 2011

∴ My @Hyundai Sonata Problems, Noted

I received an interesting phone call this afternoon. Apparently my last update about the ongoing problems with my 2012 Hyundai Sonata drew some attention. Chris, the general manager of the Brown’s chain of dealerships, contacted me. He objected to my use of the word “lie,” as in ‘I was lied to.’ He also wanted to hear my impressions of the ordeal.

So I went over the contact I’d had with Brown’s Leesburg Hyundai service department: that I was told my car would be returned from the body shop “soon,” two weeks ago, and that the service manager would then drive it on her daily commute in an attempt to reproduce the cruise control issue. And that I found out late last week the car had not been returned, and had not been extensively test driven during the intervening weeks. That it had sat on the body shop’s lot. That I felt someone was lying, either Brown’s two weeks ago or Brown’s last Friday when they spoke with a Hyundai representative.

There was some miscommunication. The car is still at the body shop, awaiting parts. The mechanic there not only punched a hole in the rear seat leather (I was told about that), he also damaged the headliner (that was today’s news). Those parts took a while shipping from Hyundai and will only come together this week.

There was no intentional lie. The information I was given was incomplete and there had been no follow-up. I assumed that what I had been told would happen actually did so.

The creaking sunroof has defied attempts to silence it, despite repairs. Chris told me that additional bracing may be employed to stiffen the crossbar and prevent chassis flex from producing the offending sound. This increasingly sounds like a poorly engineered design. I wonder how many other 2012 Sonata owners are encountering the same problem?

He also asked me for a detailed description of the cruise control problem, which I provided. In a nut, it intermittently won’t disengage when the CANCEL button is pressed, once or repeatedly, and intermittently won’t engage when the SET button is pressed, again once or multiple times.

In either case, pressing the other button first, then the desired function button, produces the correct result. So when it’s acting up I have to press the SET button once, then CANCEL to disengage the cruise control. Of course I can always tap the brake to disengage, but a safety-critical component should work as designed, every time.

Chris also objected to something I said, both in a previous piece here and in our conversation today: when the service advisor told me that they intended to give me back my car with the cruise control unrepaired, because they couldn’t replicate the problem, I told him I was leaving with his loaner and wouldn’t return it until my car was fixed.

What’s more objectionable is hearing from a Hyundai service advisor that my car, with a potentially dangerous malfunction, isn’t going to be repaired and that I could bring it back if and when it acts up enough that the technician can replicate the problem. To his credit, Chris agreed that a safety problem must be repaired right away. As I explained, I don’t want their loaner, I want my car fixed. I shouldn’t have had to threaten keeping their property to get this level of attention.

Chris explained that a Hyundai representative will be looking at the car this week, along with a field engineer, and that a decision on how to attack the cruise control problem will be forthcoming. They will also work more on the sunroof problem. He reiterated that one cruise control malfunction was one too many, no matter how intermittent. I’ll have another update from the dealership Wednesday or Thursday.

I thanked Chris for the call. I got the impression from him that my problems have gotten a higher-than-expected level of attention. Suits me. The service department at Brown’s Leesburg Hyundai should have taken the cruise control problem this seriously from the beginning.