Video: Potential 2011 Hyundai Sonata Steering Issue Scares Owner

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We like the 2011 Hyundai Sonata. Quite a lot, really--and that's before we even start talking about the 2.0T turbocharged model or the hybrid. But there's at least one person that doesn't like the Sonata--so much so that they've sold it back to Hyundai and vowed never to drive one again. Why? Because the steering wheel in her car is possessed, or appears to be.

The demonic explanation probably isn't the right one, but Hyundai isn't sure what's going on either. As the video shows, the steering wheel goes off-center, and remains that way even after the car is shut off and restarted. The portion of the incident on video comes after the owner's reported on-road problem: the steering suddenly leapt to the left, putting the car into the next lane of traffic. Fortunately, she was able to get the car stopped at the side of the road without collision.

We were intrigued by the video as sent to us by the owner, and asked Hyundai what they knew about the matter. Miles Johnson, Hyundai USA's manager of product public relations, responded. "We became aware of the posting on YouTube Wednesday morning and quickly determined that the video was of a vehicle that a team of Hyundai engineers had investigated in early April.  While we could not duplicate the condition, we did repurchase the car and our investigation is underway."

When we asked if the steering was in any way related to the problems that led to the recent Lexus LS steering-related recall--perhaps through parts from the same supplier--Johnson said simply, "This is an entirely different matter than the one Lexus had."

Bottom line: neither we nor Hyundai is sure what's going on here, or whether this might be a systemic issue or just one problematic car. At the least, however, it shows that a potentially dangerous steering issue is possible with the car.

It also raises questions about the industry's mass adoption of electric power steering assist systems for fuel economy reasons, and the potential impact they may have on road safety in general, including brands like Lexus, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and more. The fact that Hyundai's engineers weren't able to figure out what was causing the problem and weren't able to duplicate it after re-purchasing the car shows Toyota/Lexus isn't alone in finding it difficult to chase down electrical and/or electronic gremlins in its cars.

We'll keep you updated as the situation develops.

[Hyundai, YouTube]

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Comments (17)
  1. This is just a question. Is she moving the steering wheel with her leg? Rico Glover

  2. Hyundai repurchased the car from here to study it. I don't think this is a hoax. But at the same time, there's nothing to show it's anything more than a one-off malfunction.

  3. So this woman could just be making this up?
    Seems like it to me.

  4. There's a similar issue with Toyota Lexus steering. I'm sure that we'll hear about another recall soon.

  5. I have had a similar thing happening to me today with a 2011 Sonata that I am currently renting from Avis.
    While driving on the highway suddenly two lights came on, one was a red light saying ESP and the other one was the amber anti-slip light. Since I was driving on the highway I didn't notice my power steering went out until I had to make a lane change.
    I made it home without the power steering and parked it in the driveway. When I turned off the engine and started again everything went back to normal, the two light turned off and the power steering was working again. This car has less than 5000 miles on the odo meter.

  6. My 2011 Sonata acts like it dies when accelerating at the 4 way stop then accelerates through. It does this on the freeway in stop and go traffic. I have spoken to the dealer but they haven't taken me seriously.

  7. I had a 2002 Hyundai Sonata GLS that I really liked. On January 29 of 2010 I was on a major highway in Wisconsin traveling at 65mph. Suddenly my steering wheel started jerking wildly from side to side. I had no control at all. Finally it jerked to the right and flipped side over side 3 times. There were witness who attested to seeing me and said they saw me sitting up with my hands on the wheel. A state patrol officer investigated the accident scene, skid marks etc, said he could find no reason nor fault on my part. Hyundai took 4 months to investigate and said the car had no malfunction. I was not allowed access to the report. I would like to get in touch with this woman and am wondering if others with a Hyundai Sonata from any year have had anything similar happen like this woman and I have.

  8. My 2011 Sonata limited has had a steering problem before I drove it a 1000 miles. The car feels like it is wondering down the road. Like while driving when a strong wind is blowing. The car is difficult to hold steady when driving on a narrow roads.
    Another 2011 Sonata owner told me with out any prompting on my part, that his Sonata is one great car in all respects, but the steering and if they would fix that problem, the car would be world class.
    The local factory rep drove my car as did the selling dealer's service manager and they both told me that the car handles normal and their is no problem with it. My answer to that is, I purchased the car and had unpleasant experence of driving it 6000+ miles and in my opinion the steering is far from being normal. This car is a wonderful designed and engineered vehicle, a very good value price wise, great gas mileage out of the gate, quiet and comfortable ride. but the steering and its control make this diamond into a piece of coal.

  9. I've read several reports of steering issues - see the NHSTA web site - this issue is the only think preventing me from purchsaing this car

  10. own a 2011 sonata SE. since the first day it has pulled to the left. wwhen i could finally get back to the dealer they did an alignment, that did not work, then they cross rotated the tires, that seemed to work, for a few days, now the car is pulling again. now i read this, its scary as i drive daily on the "florida autobhann" i.e. I75. does anyone else have trouble seeing the radio display during the day???

  11. Dan,
    Yes, I have just gotten off the phone with Hyundai. They completely are denying the issue. They said that it is within standard. The dealer compared it to other vehicles on the lot (at the same time of day) and said that since all the others were the same that it is within standard. This is a complete joke. They should compare the same car in the morning when it is cool and then after it has been in the sun for the day. My radio is starting to get permanent display damage now. Sort of annoying. I have to say that when I went to the dealer you could tell they knew it was an issue. Then all of the sudden when I talk to Hyundai it is no longer an issue. Very interesting to me.

  12. I have a 2011 Sonata limited and the first day driving it home the car pulled to the left. It was early November, 2011 and a windy day, so I thought the wind was pushing the car. Well, the car pulls to the left consistently, the car does not want to drive straight. The dealer did an alignment which seemed to help. But a few days later the same problem appeared. I took it to the dealer and they aligneed it again. I asked why it didn't work the first time and was told that they alignment equiptment was out of whack, but had been fixed. Still it pulled to the left constantly. I took it back to the dealer and the service manager admitted they had a second Sonata in the service that day with the same problem. They told me that had be on the phone with Hyundai engineers and still don't know what the problem is. So, my car still pulls to the left constantly. This is unacceptable and no one should buy one of these cars until Hyundai finds out what the problem is.

  13. 1) Steering issue.
    2) Transmission issue. Trust me, I know how Korean transmissions are. Don't cry when you start getting transmission repair around 20K - 40K miles. Some is less than that.
    3) DGI kills injector way faster with carbon deposit. Honda has this experience 15 - 20 years ago and was able to produce way more powerful engine for smaller engine block.
    4) Cheap plastic interior that won't handle the heat.
    Need I go on? There is a reason why people still buy Honda.

  14. I have previously owned a 2007 Sante fey and with 38,000 when traded in was one of the best cars I have ever owned. I currently have a 2011 Sonata with 5,000 miles. I have had it to Dealer abount 5 times for inspection,alignment and realignment and company representative analysis. Bottom line cars does drive better BUT I still have to oversteer to keep control. I am discussed and not happy that electron steering was ever put in my car. I will persue contacting Factory and am hopeful they will do something about this under the LEMON LAW.

  15. I have a 2010 Elantra GLS with only 3565 miles when the EPS light came on. I could not move the steering wheel trying to back out of a parking spot. I called roadside assist and the tow driver was able to get the steering wheel to turn. He drove it down from the 3rd level of the parking garage and said everything is good. Lucky for me he did not leave because after I got back in the light came back on and I told him the car is going to the dealer so hook it up and let us go. Service department rep really did not want to believe me but after being in the shop for a week awaiting on the part I got my car back. Apparently this was their first ever replacement of the EPS system.

  16. Same is here Sonata 2011 GL but pulling to the right
    Same dealer feed back
    alignments twice in 2 weeks , reset of the steering
    problem back again
    2- the right front break too hot than the other wheels
    3- steering power hard after 40 Km speed thats make you feel bad because the pulling needs corrections all the way and if the steering is hard you push harder and get more than you need so you will do it again to correct the correction
    4- start from 0 the car takes time to think before moving or you have to push too much to respond
    5-you cant make smooth turn because the steering push
    your hand and the gears changing at same time the 3 firs gears are too short
    it is very nice car to watch not to drive

  17. It's definitely not systemic. My Sonata GLS has none of these problems and steers perfectly. This woman's one car definitely has a problem and the media shouldn't be sending the message this affects all cars.

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