ORLANDO, Fla. – Ali Acevedo, of Orlando, said she and her two young children have been in and out of rental cars for the past five months, even though her husband bought her a brand new 2018 Hyundai Sonata SE last March.
"It was the first car I ever owned brand new, so we were really excited about it," Acevedo said.
But Acevedo said the car spent more time in a local Hyundai dealer's repair shop more than it did in the driveway.
"The car has been in and out of the dealership, actually sitting at the dealership now for about three months," Acevedo said. "The car barely has any miles on it."
Acevedo said first the radio blacked out, and then the car started having engine issues nonstop.
"The car started shaking like a hurricane. I was driving and the steering wheel started shaking really fast," Acevedo said. "The car started shaking and the car wouldn't accelerate anymore. I mean it was terrifying! I had to pull over to the side of I-4 and turn the car off."
Acevedo said she then started hearing and seeing all the reports of recent Hyundai and Kia recalls and engine fires. She said that's when she started worrying about her childrens' safety in their car.
According to Hyundai's website, the young mother's car and nearly 2 million other Hyundai vehicles with the same type of engine are all in need of a knock sensor software update, which is supposed to monitor engine vibrations and alert drivers if the car is heading for engine failure.
"The 2018 Sonata is a part of our product improvement campaign to install a new engine monitoring technology called a knock sensor detection system," said Michael Stewart with Hundai Motor America's corporate office. "The technology uses software innovations and leverages existing engine sensors to continuously monitor for symptoms that may precede an engine failure. More details on Hyundai's engine recalls and the knock sensor product improvement campaign can be found at www.hyundaiengineinfo.com."
In January, Hyundai issued a recall on about 100,000 Sonatas to re-inspect re-installed components of the high-pressure fuel pump.
But that recall was only for the 2011-2014 models that had engines replaced under two previous recalls.
The Acevedo’s car is a 2018 and only qualifies for the software update. In this case, the family says they were sold a lemon. And Hyundai’s Lemon Law Division acknowledges that’s true.
Turns out the fact that the Acevedo's Sonata SE had been in the dealership for the same engine issues three separate times over the course of three months, that alone qualified to have the Acevedo's Sonata labelled as a lemon.
Acevedo said at first, Hyundai offered to replace her 2018 Sonata with a different one and then the automaker offered to repurchase the car for a little more than $3,400, which is $850 less than what they'd already paid toward the car.
That's when Acevedo contacted News 6.
We both sent numerous emails back and forth to Hyundai and two weeks later, the Acevedos received a new settlement agreement from Hyundai Motor America, offering the family $6,000 -- almost double what they offered before.
The Acevedos credit News 6 with getting them results.
"Before you even reached out to them, it was just a chasing game," Acevedo said.
Hyundai Motor America also sent this statement:
"Hyundai strives to provide excellent service with all of our customers and regrets the concerns the Acevedos had with their 2018 Hyundai Sonata," Stewart said. "While we were prepared to repair the Sonata under warranty and provide goodwill assistance for any inconvenience, in an effort to fully resolve the Acevedos' concerns to their satisfaction, we have offered to repurchase the vehicle.
These types of situations don't occur often as Hyundai quality is among the best in the industry, ranking as the second-highest non-premium brand in J.D. Power's 2018 U.S. Initial Quality Study (IQS), fifth place of mainstream brands in J.D. Power's 2019 Vehicle Dependability Study (VDS) and fifth place overall in Consumer Reports reliability rankings. All Hyundai vehicles are also backed by Hyundai Owner Assurance, an offering that includes America's Best Warranty."
So how does the Florida Lemon Law work?
According to the Better Business Bureau, a new car under warranty that has had three to four attempts for the same problem, has had six repairs total, or has been out of service for more than 30 days due to repairs, qualifies as a lemon under the Florida Lemon Law during the first two years of ownership.
It is the responsibility of the manufacturer, not the dealer, to correct the problems within 10 days.
If it can't, the manufacturer must replace or repurchase the vehicle and it is up to the customer to choose which one they want.