SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

January 12, 2013

Auto Scanner: Are there acceleration problems with the ’06 Elantra?

Auto Scanner
Larry Rubenstein

---- — Q: On Dec. 5, I drove into the public garage in Naples, Fla., with my 2006 Hyundai Elantra. I noticed as I turned onto the first level on the right that someone was pulling out of a space. There was a car on both sides of the car pulling out. I waited until they pulled out and then slowly proceeded to position my car into the empty space. My car just accelerated so fast, and I saw that I was going to crash into a concrete wall. I must have realized that I was going to be hurt, so I pulled my legs toward my face. The air bag exploded and, of course, the car became smoky. I immediately got out of the car and was quite shaken up. The car was determined to be totaled. I received an insurance surcharge notice, which I filled out, and had to send $50 to be heard at an appeal date pending. I read your article titled “Sudden acceleration problems should be pursued,” and I found it interesting and informative. Do you know of any other articles or reports about the 2006 Hyundai Elantra accelerating? I plan to take your article to the hearing but would like to give them more stories about the Elantra acceleration.

A: If had my way, we would put throttle cables back in cars. Unfortunately, the drive-by-wire system is considered to be a move forward, and most likely, it is here to stay. Unfortunately, there have been quite a few incidents of unintended acceleration. Prior to the drive-by-wire, unintended acceleration was usually caused by a driver with feet too big in a Jeep with pedals too close. But, that’s a different article altogether. One website to start your research would be http://suddenacceleration.com/. There, you will find a lot of articles and links to reasons, court cases and everything to do with this problem.

Q: I had my oil changed a few months back. A few weeks later, I had to slam my brakes to avoid an animal in the road. My brake pedal went to the floor, and only my e-brake saved me from an accident. No anti-lock or brake lights came on. I got towed home. I opened my hood to find my brake reservoir cap on crooked in a way that prevented it from being sealed. I put the cap on properly and pumped my brakes back up; they seemed to work. I also let the garage know what happened. Well, now whenever I apply my brakes semi-hard over an uneven surface, they go right to the floor, again no warning lights. I explained this to the garage — they inspected my car and said they can find nothing wrong with my brakes. This problem is intermittent, it does not happen every time I brake over a rough surface, but has happened three times since the original incident. I can no longer drive this car safely. A retired mechanic told me a seal in my master cylinder was probably damaged when the cap was unsecured and the brakes were applied hard. As far as the garage goes, I offered to pay half of the bill to replace my master cylinder due to their error. They declined. What do you think?

A: I talked with this reader on the phone and found there is no brake fluid loss, and when the cap was not on tight, it was a very rainy day. I advised him to have the anti-lock brake system scanned with a computer and to also have a four-wheel physical brake check. I don’t feel there is a master cylinder problem. I do, however, feel there is a probability of water in the brake fluid. So I further recommended that if the problems mentioned above were not present, then a litmus paper test to check for water in the brake fluid was next. A thorough flush of the brake fluid would be the next step. By the way, brake fluid should be flushed at or before 60,000 miles.

Car Care Tip: Your car should be equipped with a flashlight. If it’s not, choose an LED flashlight. If you do have one, be sure to check it for operational condition.

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Larry Rubenstein is a master technician who owns a North Shore service station. His column appears every Saturday. Write to Larry at The Salem News, c/o Auto Scanner, 32 Dunham Road, Beverly, MA 01915, or send an email to scanauto@aol.com.