November 11, 2011

∴ The @Hyundai Fix is In

Another day, another chat with Steve, the Hyundai zone manager for the greater Washington, DC area. He has responsibility for a dozen dealerships including Brown’s Leesburg Hyundai in Northern Virginia, where my Sonata has resided for forty-three days.

Steve called to give me some good news last evening: the Hyundai field engineer, using additional guidance from assembly line engineers in Alabama, was successful in adjusting-out the creaking sounds coming from my panoramic sunroof. According to Steve, the field engineer was unable to reproduce the creaking sounds after re-assembling the roof components the final time.

I’m expecting a phone call from Ally, the Brown’s service manager, this morning or early afternoon, after the service department completes detailing my car. After verifying that they did indeed apply the service campaign procedure for mis-aligned front ends (a mailing went out to all owners of affected cars last week) I’ll take a drive up to Leesburg and retrieve my car.

I’ll pay close attention to the car for the next month or three, until I’m satisfied the three problems that began this ordeal haven’t returned. I’ll report that to Steve, at which point he’ll authorize an extended warranty to cover my car, bumper-to-bumper, for ten years or 100,000 miles. Hyundai is also covering three of my monthly car payments in compensation for the unpleasantness of the past forty-three days.

It looks like this ordeal is coming to a close. I’m fairly certain the sunroof creak is resolved, at least for now. I hope the replacement of my steering wheel, with the electronic modules it carries, has fully resolved the cruise control button(s) issue. The service campaign should resolve the alignment problem. And I’ll have my car back.

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This episode reinforces a rule I usually obey: never, ever buy a first model year of anything. Not cars, not appliances, not even hair driers. The more complex a device the more likely it is to suffer design, engineering or production faults, and the first model series is where they turn up. The second year’s run usually carries their fixes into production.

We went shopping for my car in August, expecting that the 2012 models wouldn’t be out until September or later. I was hoping to get a good deal on a remaining 2011 model. We ended up with a reasonable deal on the 2012, which brought with it the new sunroof design.

I’m not sure I understand how or when the cruise control issue came about.

The alignment problem has plagued both 2011 and 2012 Sonatas. The service campaign recall targets both model years.

The alignment and cruise control button problems are easy fixes: adjust or replace the bad parts. The sunroof was more difficult and took up most of the time my car was out of service. I'd have avoided that one by obeying the old rule.