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Hyundai recalls 140,000 cars

Hyundai Motor Co. is recalling close to 140,000 of its 2011 Sonata sedans because of concerns that an improperly assembled steering column could cause drivers to lose control, the company said Sunday.

The carmaker said it knew of fewer than 10 instances of drivers reporting issues with steering on the new Sonata, manufactured in Montgomery, Ala.

No injuries or accidents related to the problem had been reported at the time of the recall, the company said.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has been investigating the 2011 Sonata since late August, after consumers reported that they had lost the ability to steer the cars.

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Hyundai spokesman Jim Trainor said the loss of steering control was a worst-case scenario for the defect, which has to do with a bolt that connects the steering wheel to the steering column. In general, owners reported the issue after feeling a “looseness” when they were steering or hearing a sound when turning.

The problems were reported in cars that had less than 1,000 miles on them.

When asked how many miles an affected car could go before the steering system would be in serious danger of failure, Trainor called the question “hypothetical” and declined to speculate.

“The problem is, we haven’t seen that,” he said. “With the handful we’ve had, customers have brought them in, and dealers have looked at them and fixed them -- the cars have all made it to the dealership.”

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When owners bring their vehicles in, the dealer will inspect the steering system to determine if the bolt is loose or threaded improperly. If so, the repair could take as long as an hour, Trainor said.

He said the simplicity of the repair could mean the recall would be relatively inexpensive for Hyundai.

“As far as recall costs go, this would be toward the lower end,” he said.

The recall affects all Sonatas manufactured from Dec. 11, 2009, to Sept. 10, 2010.

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david.sarno@latimes.com


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