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posted: 5/20/2012 5:22 AM

Under the hood: Rust usually excluded from warranties

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Q. I read with interest your recent column regarding the Santa Fe and rust, which is a related issue with my 2003 Santa Fe. In December I spent almost $2,300 at the Hyundai dealership replacing the front exhaust pipe assembly, which had rusted out and fallen off the car.

When I took it to my regular mechanic in January for an oil change and checkup, he told me the rust on the bottom of the car -- brake backing plates, gas tank shield, etc. -- was so bad it looked like the car had 300,000 miles on it instead of the 90,000+ miles it does have.

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I still have a few thousand miles left and about six months on my 10-year, 100,000 mile warranty. Do I have any recourse to get the car repaired or the rust problem addressed before the whole car falls apart? I believe there have been multiple lawsuits against Hyundai on the rust issue in "Salt Belt" states but not much came of it. Your recommendation?

A. Thanks for reading the column and sorry you are having all those issues with your car. My assumption is that your warranty excludes rust, so you are probably on your own with this.

The only thing I can suggest you do if you are not getting satisfaction from Hyundai is to phone or write to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, or online at www.nhtsa.gov if you prefer. If there are enough complaints on this then maybe something will get done.

Generally speaking, it does require a large amount of complaints on the exact same issue before the government will step in and force a recall. Check first with Hyundai because sometimes if you squeak enough they will take care of you in some fashion.

Hyundai is working hard to build their brand and they are building really nice cars these days, so maybe you can get some help if you get to the right person. Good luck with this.

Tale of two tires

Did you know that all tires are not created equal?

I had this demonstrated to me in a dramatic fashion this week. I was invited to a BF Goodrich ride-and-drive event where they were demonstrating the new G-Force Super Comp-2 performance tire. I had the opportunity to drive several identical cars on identical road surfaces with the only difference being the tires.

The difference in the way the cars handled was astounding. One of the tests was a zero-to-60-to-zero test and I actually stopped the car 15 feet shorter on the BFG's than the competitor's tire (the average in the group was 9 feet).

Do you think 15 (or even 9) feet could make a difference in a panic situation? The competitor's tires we were comparing were not cheap tires either; they were very good, high-end tires! So it really makes me wonder how much handling and stopping ability we give up when we buy an inexpensive tire based strictly on price.

• Douglas Automotive is at 312 S. Hager Ave., Barrington, (847) 381-0454, and 123 Virginia Road, Crystal Lake, (815) 356-0440. For information, visit douglasautomotive.com. Send questions to underthehood@dailyherald.com.

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