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Sonata owners claim Hyundai wouldn't pay for engine even though the car was under warranty.

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Hyundai Sonata Engine Failure Lawsuit
Sonata owners claim Hyundai wouldn't pay for engine even though the car was under warranty.

— A Hyundai Sonata engine failure lawsuit alleges the cars suffer from a lack of oil lubrication caused by defective 1.6-liter turbo gasoline direct injection (GDI) 4-cylinder engines.

The plaintiffs claim oil sludge, metal debris and problems with the connecting rod bearings also cause the engines to fail. In addition, the lawsuit alleges Hyundai rejects warranty coverage based on a lack of maintenance receipts.

The proposed class-action lawsuit includes current and former South Carolina owners and lessees of 2011-2015 Hyundai Sonatas equipped with 1.6- liter GDI engines.

Plaintiffs Dana M. Ballew and Charles A. Ballew purchased a new 2015 Hyundai Sonata with a 5-year/60,000-mile warranty, then purchased a service agreement that extended the warranty by another 12 months or 24,000 miles.

Mrs. Ballew says she returned to the Hyundai dealership four times after purchasing the car to have the tires rotated and to have the oil changed. However, due to the driving distance to the dealer, the plaintiff says the next four oil changes were made by persons or businesses closer to home.

Ballew says each of the four oil changes occurred at or before the recommended intervals recommended in the owner's manual.

On August 31, 2017, Mrs. Ballew allegedly went back to the Hyundai dealer for an oil change, replacement air filters and a brake switch replacement when the Sonata had 45,016 miles on it.

About three months later the plaintiff had the oil changed again, but this time the work wasn't performed by the dealership. However, Ballew says she went back to the dealership in March 2018 for an oil change when the Sonata had 54,736 miles, and the dealer allegedly said nothing about any incorrect maintenance issues.

On May 9, 2018, the Sonata was having transmission trouble so the plaintiff took it back to the dealership where technicians determined the DCT gear actuator needed to be removed and replaced and the oil should be changed. The gear actuator work was performed and paid for under warranty, but Ballew claims nothing was said about improper maintenance.

Less than two months later and with 59,646 miles on the odometer, the plaintiffs returned to the dealer about transmission problems.

Technicians said the transmission needed to be replaced and everything would be paid for under the new vehicle warranty. Again, the plaintiff says no dealer employees mentioned anything about improper maintenance.

While testing out the Sonata, dealer technicians said the engine should be replaced because it was making knocking sounds and oil sludge was found when the oil cap was removed.

According to the lawsuit, the Sonata was still within the warranty period, but the Hyundai dealership refused to pay for the engine replacement due to “sludge build up and lack of maintenance.” The plaintiffs claim they drove the Sonata home where it still sits parked.

The Hyundai Sonata warranty includes information about an "alternative dispute resolution" program, so in August 2018 the plaintiffs filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau.

The plaintiffs say they received an email from a BBB case specialist who explained the claim would be handled in two phases: The "mediation phase" and the "arbitration phase."

The BBB sent the complaint to Hyundai so the automaker could have an opportunity to make a settlement offer. However, the case would proceed to the arbitration phase if the plaintiffs rejected the settlement offer.

According to the lawsuit, Hyundai wouldn't make a settlement offer because the request to replace the engine was denied due to a lack of maintenance. This caused the plaintiffs to proceed to an arbitration hearing in September 2018.

With Hyundai attending by phone, Mrs. Ballew made her arguments, but the automaker continued to claim a "lack of maintenance receipts for all prior services should result in a denial of the engine warranty repair."

Two days later the arbitrator ruled in favor of Hyundai by saying, “Consumer’s failure to provide proof required to establish that routine maintenance (oil changes) were accomplished in accordance with the owner’s manual voided warranty coverage for the engine.”

In spite of the ruling, the lawsuit alleges the warranty does not require a customer to retain maintenance receipts or to provide receipts to prove routine maintenance was conducted.

According to the lawsuit:

"[B]ecause 'normal maintenance' is not covered 'unless such services are performed as part of a covered warrantable repair,' owners such as Plaintiffs may choose to have routine maintenance conducted by servicers that are more convenient in location and more attractive in pricing."

In addition to the alleged warranty issues, the Sonata lawsuit alleges the GDI engines fail because of inadequate engine oil lubrication and because metal debris enters the oil. According to the lawsuit, Sonata drivers often report the engines knock as the contaminated oil cycles through the engines.

The 2011-2015 Hyundai Sonata engine failure lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina, Spartanburg Division - Ballew, et al., v. Hyundai Motor America, Inc., et al.

The plaintiffs are represented by Richardson, Patrick, Westbrook & Brickman, LLC.

CarComplaints.com has complaints that were filed about Hyundai Sonata engines.

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