Shaun Zinck May 19, 2015, 2:23pm


A major automobile manufacturer is facing allegations that it knew about a possible defect in a particular model vehicle that caused the engine to seize without warning.

Beth Graham of Pingree Grove, Ill., filed a lawsuit on May 7 in U.S. District Court of Northern District of California against Hyundai Motor America claiming 2011 to 2015 Hyundai Sonatas have an undisclosed defect in the engine's rotating assembly.

The lawsuit states the rotating assembly usually fails when the vehicle reaches between 60,000 and 90,000 miles, which causes the engine to fail.

“When the rotating assembly fails, it does so without warning and causes the engine to seize suddenly—leaving Sonata drivers without power and struggling to maneuver the vehicle to safety,” the lawsuit said.

Graham said Hyundai hasn't addressed the problem and is concealing the problem from vehicle lessees. The manufacturer is also accused of denying warranty claims for failed engines, and is requiring lessees to submit a record of the vehicle's maintenance history before making a warranty claim.

“Hyundai denies that engine failures are widespread in Sonata vehicles and blames its customers for the problem—forcing them to pay as much as $10,000 for an engine replacement,” the lawsuit said.

The lawsuit said more than 100 reports of failed Sonata engines have been posted online, which includes reports to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and on Hyundai's owner forums.

Graham is seeking class status for lessees of 2011 through 2015 Sonatas. She is also seeking more than $5 million in damages plus court costs.

She is represented by Eric H. Gibbs of Gibbs Law Group LLP in Oakland, Calif.

United States District Court Northern District of California case number 5:15-cv-02071.

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