Hyundai is recalling almost 205,000 of its Elantra cars because the power steering could suddenly stop working, making the vehicle harder to turn, according to a report from the automaker posted on Saturday on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s website.
The action covers the 2008-10 Elantra and the 2009-10 Elantra Touring. Hyundai said the driver would still be able to steer the car if the power steering was lost, but that it would require “greater driver effort,” particularly at low speeds.
The automaker did not mention any accidents or injuries related to the issue. The loss of power steering was not always viewed by either automakers or federal regulators as a serious problem that demanded a recall, primarily because it was still possible to steer the vehicle. Often, it would result in dealers being sent a technical service bulletin, which would tell them how to fix the problem should an owner complain.
That was a far less costly tactic because, unlike in a recall, automakers would not have to bear the repair cost for a problem detailed in a service bulletin unless the vehicle was under warranty. However, during the past year, NHTSA and automakers have been under intense criticism from Congress over safety issues, much of it brought on by a long-ignored and deadly ignition-switch defect in millions of General Motors vehicles. Hyundai said it had been aware of problems with the power steering in the Elantra since 2010, but had not carried out a recall because “Hyundai’s understanding has been that the loss of power steering assist has not, in the past, been considered as a safety-related defect in the United States,” the automaker wrote in an explanatory report also posted on the NHTSA website.
But, Hyundai said, “the industry has increasingly handled similar issues through safety recalls,” and Hyundai concluded that one was necessary “to remain consistent with that industry trend.” The safety agency also said it was intensifying its investigation into Takata air bags that, in a crash, can send pieces of metal into the interior of a car. More than 18 million vehicles worldwide have already been recalled, and at least six deaths have been linked to the problem. That investigation, which began last year, covers an estimated 11.5 million vehicles from BMW, Chrysler, Ford, GM, Honda, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Subaru and Toyota. The agency and Takata have been at odds over the issue.
On February 20, NHTSA said Takata had not been fully cooperating with the investigation and began fining it 14,000 a day. Takata insisted it had been cooperating.
IgnitionLIVE is awaiting comment from Hyundai SA on whether local Elantra models are affected. This article will be updated as soon as feedback is received.