In March 2018, the news that car manufacture Hyundai recalls a total of 43941 2018 Santa Fe cars and SUV are announced after incidents in which the steering wheel detached for two vehicles were reported. The National Highway Traffic Safety association (NHTSA) had investigated the incident, and asked Hyundai to recall its cars to prevent similar accidents in future.
In addition to the standard Santa Fe, Hyundai also manufactures a SUV version of the car, the Santa Fe sports. It was announced that 31,367 SUVs and 12,574 cars of Santa Fe model manufactured in 2018, were recalled after the defect was detected to check the vehicle and fix the problem if required. In the field report filed by the Korean manufacturer Hyundai with NHTSA, the steering wheel had detached from a Santa Fe Sport 2018 vehicle.
The spokesman for Hyundai, Michael Stewart told the Car and Driver website, that a customer had halted the vehicle and used the steering wheel for support while removing a wallet from the rear pocket when the incident took place. Due the pressure, the steering wheel of the vehicle had broken from the hub which is used to attach it to the car body.
Hyundai had confirmed to the NHTSA that it is possible for the steering column to get detached from the hub under certain circumstances.
Though no other instances of steering wheel problems have been reported in the United States, a similar incident took place in Korea in January 2018. When Hyundai investigated the incident, the problem was traced to the assemblies for steering wheels in a specific production lot from a supplier. In the documents filed by Hyundai with the NHTSA, it is reported that the steering wheels did not have the breakage strength which is specified by Hyundai.
This reduction in strength was probably due to a problem in the manufacturing process, since higher temperatures can adversely affect the parts and the strength.
Hyundai claimed that it was not aware of accidents which were caused by the steering wheel detaching and also injuries. Approximately one percent of the Santa Fe cars manufactured are likely to be affected. The customers who purchased a Santa Fe vehicle were notified of the recall on March 16, 2018. They were asked to take the car to the nearest car dealer and avoid third party repairs along with repairs using the Hyundai factory service manual.
The car dealer would check the serial number of the steering assembly used in the car to check if it was from the defective lot, and replace it if required.