Two plaintiffs allege in a proposed class action against Hyundai Motor America that the factory-installed steering mechanisms in certain Accent and Elantra models contain a defect that could cause the vehicles’ power steering to suddenly stop working. The alleged defect can cause steering wheels to lock and become impossible to turn, severely limiting a driver’s ability to control his or her vehicle, the lawsuit says.
The plaintiffs—both of whom claim in the suit that they were involved in car accidents caused by their cars’ power steering issues—assert that Hyundai and its dealerships were aware of the alleged power steering defect, yet did not disclose the problem to consumers.
Which vehicles are mentioned in the lawsuit?
The 48-page lawsuit claims the alleged steering mechanism defect is found in at least 2013 through 2016 Accent and Elantra models.
What are the allegations?
Alleging violations of the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, California competition, advertising and warranty laws, and violations of consumer protection laws in all 50 states, the case argues Hyundai and its dealerships knew full well about the supposed steering defect, yet concealed this from owners and lessees.
“A reasonable customer who purchases a vehicle that advertises power steering as a feature expects that feature to function properly,” the lawsuit reads. “A reasonable consumer further expects and assumes that [Hyundai] will not sell vehicles with known safety defects, and will disclose any such defect to their customers.”
Has a supposed defect like this ever come up before with Hyundai?
Hyundai in 2016 issued a recall over a similar problem in some 2011 Sonata vehicles that the lawsuit says was born from “conflicting steering wheel input data” that could cause the vehicles’ power steering to turn off completely.
Car accidents and consumer complaints
According to the lawsuit, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has, as of June 7, 2017, amassed more than 100 consumer complaints of steering problems in Elantra and Accent models.
A few found in the complaint include:
“On the evening of 4/7/2015 I rented a 2015 Hyundai Elantra from Enterprise. The next evening, 4/8/2015 at about 10:30pm, I was driving out of the RV park where we were staying. I was driving about 15 mph and had just driven over a small bridge that had a very slight bump at the end before the road curved slightly to the right. As I went over the bump the steering wheel locked up and I found myself heading straight into the wooden wall along the right side of the road. I could not get the steering wheel to turn to the left, away from the wall, and crashed through it.” 2015 Elantra
“The steering locks in the center as if there is a catch or something, what happens is, while driving your trying to keep center in your lane, as the car will either drift to the left or right, it will never stay centered.” 2014 Elantra
“I turned out of my work parking lot, made a left. My steering became uncontrollable at less than 15 MPH. I have a steady hand. I remained calm. But when I tried to break to prevent a possible collision into anything after the steering seemed to have gone out, I braked harder than normal, but not slammed. The car jerked uncontrollably as I pressed on the break. It felt like the breaks were jumping/hitting the ground. On the same 3-5 mile drive home this happened several more times, drove half the speed limit and still persisted . . . it never shouldn’t have had this not happened at low speed when the first profound lose of control occurred due to a mechanical issue, not driver error. And had I not been on alert with my hand awaiting to use the e-brake after it became very apparent something was not okay, I undoubtedly would have totaled my car.” 2012-13 Accent
Additionally, both lead plaintiffs say they were involved in accidents as a result of their vehicles’ allegedly faulty steering. One plaintiff claims her accident happened after she brought her 2013 Accent to the dealer for power steering issues that the shop was ultimately unable to fix. The second plaintiff, the case says, crashed into a Jersey barricade on the side of highway after his steering wheel locked up and his car veered sharply off the road.
Who is covered by the suit?
The lawsuit hopes to cover owners and lessees of 2013-2016 Hyundai Elanta and Accent vehicles nationwide.