Watchdog: Clutch failure after four months

Hyundai i20 clutch failure
8 Aug, 2012 12:15pm Richard Yarrow

What good is Hyundai’s five-year warranty if owners have to pay for a replacement clutch after just 3,500 miles?

New car warranties don’t cover wear and tear components. Parts such as wiper blades, brake pads and tyres are classed as consumables and the owner has to pay when they need replacing. But what is ‘fair’ wear and tear?

Cathy Brown, from Helston, Cornwall, certainly didn’t think it was fair that Hyundai wouldn’t cover a fix on her i20 under warranty. The replacement part wasn’t anything so minor as wiper blades – it was the clutch. And the car was only four months old, with 3,500 miles on the clock.

“I’ve driven for over 40 years and never had clutch problems before,” Cathy said. “The one on my previous car lasted 11 years!”

A clutch is a wear and tear item – and it would be unfair to expect companies to replace them when they wear out on older vehicles.

But surely no company would consider it ‘fair’ for a customer to foot the bill for a replacement clutch on a four-month-old vehicle? Hyundai did. Its customer service centre manager wrote to Cathy saying that it agreed with the result of an investigation carried out by her dealer.

“There was no evidence to suggest any manufacturing defect,” wrote the customer service manager. “The cause of the concern with the clutch was down to wear and therefore is not covered under the terms of the warranty.” The manager added insult to injury by suggesting that the clutch failure may have been down to Cathy’s driving style.

Funnily enough, the technician who carried out an independent inspection on Cathy’s car came to a different conclusion. He said it looked like the i20 had done 100,000 miles, not 3,500. “With no disrespect,” he added, “even a bad driver would not have worn a clutch to this extent in that short time.” He concluded by saying the clutch was not of sufficient quality for the vehicle.

We confronted Hyundai with these findings, and asked it to reconsider Cathy’s warranty claim. It agreed to send its own engineer to inspect the part. “Once we’ve received the findings of this report, we will come to a final conclusion,” a spokesman said.

Cathy's case: At a glance

The problem
A clutch can last the lifetime of the car, but the one on Cathy Brown’s Hyundai i20 went after only four months. She was reluctant to pay for another.

Hyundai's response
Hyundai refused to replace the clutch under warranty. It said it is “fair wear and tear”, and suggested the problem could be down to her driving style.

Legal advice
You’re within your rights to get a second opinion. Ensure the dealer keeps all the parts it has removed, then have a qualified vehicle inspector examine them to see if they agree with the initial verdict.

Our verdict
A worn-out clutch on a four-month-old car should have set alarm bells ringing at Hyundai. And it should not have taken our intervention to finally get the company to agree to inspect it.

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I was talking to someone who had exatly the same problem with the same model of car..... He had to pay for his clutch to be replaced too

Wow. Really surprised. The auto trans in my daughters 04 Accent blew at about 30,000. Miles and Hyundai replaces it at no charge or hassle. If what Cathy says is true about her skill,then there is no way a clutch failure at 3,500 is acceptable. Sounds like there was a QC issue at the plant and Hyundai ought to stand behind their product,especially when you have a tech saying something looks fishy.

all hyundias are crap eventually people will one day wake up and realize

I had this with another manufacturer and came to the conclusion that the chosen choice of clutch size and material were cutting it very close for the torque output of the engine. Any type of driving that put a strain on the clutch, such as repeated hill starts (to get out of my drive) or worse, remapping the engine, meant rapid clutch wear.

A clutch plate can be destroyed in under 100 miles as was demonstrated by one of my customers who did this twice before it was proved they were trying to take away in 3rd gear not first gear. No fault with the car and the 3rd plate lasted many years. So I would tend to agree with Hyundia in this case.

I would have thought that Hyundai would bend over backwards to do the right thing in such cases. Their Failure to do so from the outset will only serve to damamge their reputation.

under sale of goods the car is not fit for purpose and should be returned

I've got an ix35, and while its a good car, Hyundai are nowhere near as good as they think they are. When I bought it I imagined they were getting on par with Skoda (I had a vRS Octavia prior to this), but they are a million miles away from it yet. This is my last Hyundai.

Get a Ford - I've had my '97 Mondeo from new and it's got 340,000 miles on it. Still on the original clutch, the engine's never been apart, and in fact the whole driveline is original. Obviously it's had a couple of sets of tyres, a front wishbone, some brake pads and a couple of sets of wiper blades, but who needs a ten year warranty if the product is right?

Had this problem a couple of years ago on my twingo, renault replaced it all without a fuss, been fine ever since...

I agree, and look at the crap sister company Kia. Some guy even made a YouTube vid about all the faults with his Kia Soul. Say it with a posh accent and it could almpst be Key Ar$eole haha!

Hyundai replaced my clutch on my i20 after 3,500 miles as it started to judder. I had no charge to pay. It has now started juddering again after 17,000 miles. Hyundai, stop telling customers it is their driving style, there is obviously a problem with the clutches. SORT IT OUT. I will never buy Hyundai again

I had exactly the same problem on Sunday with my i10 and am absolutely LIVID!!! My car is 11 months old and has 2100 on the clock and yet the dealership still refuses to replace my clutch!!!! I was recovered from the M23 at night with a 4 year old in my arms and Hyundai refuses to even admit that there is serious fault in my vehicle. I was told the problem might be intermittent and that, although the car does smell of a burnt clutch (?!), I should keep driving until it happens again! My previous car was a cheap and cheerful Daewoo Matiz. It lasted 12 years and NEVER gave me any grief whatsoever, so I think it is fair to say that the problem with the i10s and i20s is in the quality of the cars themselves rather than on the driving skills of whoever was unfortunate enough to fall for the Hyundai 5 Year Warranty Con....

Hyundai i20 is a mechanical fault ,the clutch plate is not big enough to take the torque output of the car ,hence the reason when they replace the clutch plate they have to fit a larger one to the car . this will also proberley mean the replacing of the flywheel as this gets damaged by the old smaller clutch plate. surley this is a component fault not a driving fault.

This is utterly shameful behaviour on the part of Hyundai, I test drove a i20 a couple of weeks ago, really liked the car and was about to buy one. Then I started coming across numerous reports on the internet of people in exactly the same predicament as the lady in this article. It is obvious that there must be something wrong with these clutches - either in their design, or what they are made of or how they are fitted. Hyundai should live up to their responsibilities. They have lost a potential customer because of this,

Exactly the same thing with my mother's i20. 9 months old, 4k on the clock and the clutch goes just like that. Dealer not in the least interested and went as far as to suggest that her age may have been a factor! Happy to charge her over £500 to replace the clutch with no choice but to pay, but no assistance in terms of advocacy with the manufacturer. Have now escalated to Hyundai and will repost when we get a response from them. Maybe they can redeem themselves where the dealer frankly pulled up very short with its after sales care.

Also under the Sale of Goods, any faults in the first six months are deemed to be inherent are assumed to have been there at the time of purchase.

So what happened after the investigation?
Unless there is a conclusion one way or the other, we have to assume this is a completely made up story.