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Hyundai Recalls 54,500 Excels in California

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Hyundai Motor America has extended its California emissions standards recall program to include 54,500 of the 1987 model Excels.

It is the seventh recall by the South Korean auto maker since it began selling cars in the United States in 1986.

But auto industry analysts say that recalls are so commonplace, and that Hyundai has done such a good job handling previous ones, that the latest recall should not have a negative impact on sales.

The emissions recall announced Friday will involve only 1987 model Excels sold in California.

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It follows the announcement in October that 1986 Excels sold in the state were being recalled by Hyundai after tests by the California Air Resources Board showed that the model exceeded state emissions standards. That recall involved 28,450 cars and still is in effect.

In a third but smaller recall, Hyundai last week notified 2,199 owners of its new 1990 Excels to bring their cars in for replacement of lock washers under the nuts that secure the front hubs to the axles.

Hyundai said the lock washers may have been insufficiently hardened and might be subject to cracking.

In each of the recalls, Hyundai dealers will perform the inspections and any necessary repairs at no cost to the car owner, the company said.

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The emissions system recall for 1987 Excels involves two types of repairs, depending on the production date of the vehicle. For early 1987 models, several parts in the carburetor will be replaced, while repairs in late 1987 models will involve installation of a new engine ground wire.

Hyundai created a new market in 1986 when it introduced the Excel subcompact in the United States. Priced at less than $6,000, it quickly became the best-selling import auto in the country.

The Excel held that title for three years before sales began dropping dramatically in 1989. But analysts say the company’s ongoing sales slump is related to consumer trends and marketing problems rather than any growing perception that the cars are not reliable.

John Rettie, an editor with J.D. Power & Associates, an Agoura Hills automotive market research firm, said that while Hyundai has had seven recalls in four years, “the industry has had so many recalls that they are almost meaningless to the consumer.”

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“There is a tendency by the media to overreact to recalls,” added George Peterson, president of AutoPacific Group in Santa Ana.


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