Buying a new car can be an exciting and fun experience. You want to drive it all around town and show it off to friends and family. But that excitement may be dampened when you find out something may already be wrong with your brand new car. Before cars are sent out into car dealership lots, many companies run tests to ensure the cars are safe for the roads. Recently, the engineering team at the Consumer Reports Auto Test Center found that multiple 2021 vehicles have issues that must be repaired for the brand new cars to operate safely on the road. There were serious problems found with Toyotas, Hyundais, Teslas, and more in the past few years that required dealerships and consumers to have their brand new cars fixed before even having them for a couple of months.
Some of the most recent problems found by the engineers working at the Auto Test Center included braking issues and software concerns. When the 2021 Hyundai Elantra was tested, a serious problem was found with its pedestrian detection system. While the vehicle’s automatic emergency braking system did stop the car and avoid striking a test dummy, the engine stalled in the process and required the driver to restart the car completely. This is not how this system is designed to function. After Consumer Reports contacted Hyundai and the problem was replicated by the automaker, Hyundai issued a Technical Service Bulletin (TSB) to dealerships with a way to fix the problem on cars that had already been sold to consumers. TSBs are specific instructions on how to repair a recurring problem that the dealer will be able to fix at their location. This particular problem was solved by updating the Elantra’s transmission software. When a consumer takes their newly purchased vehicle for a TSB repair, it should be free and it should resolve the problem. All 2021 Hyundai Elantra owners should call their dealerships to ensure the pedestrian detection system has been fixed.
Another example of a serious issue being found during Consumer Reports’ testing process was the brake system of the 2021 Toyota Sienna. When testing the vehicle, the engineering team did not feel as though the brake pedal was working properly. Numerous engineers tested the brakes and found them difficult to modulate and stiff – making a smooth stop almost impossible. This significantly affects the way a driver would be able to brake safely in this vehicle. After testing the vehicle and contacting Toyota, the manufacturer issued a TSB to address this specific problem. The antilock braking system module (ABS) required recalibration to allow the brakes to function properly and have a more natural feel. While not every 2021 Toyota Sienna had this issue, if you own a Sienna and your brakes do not feel right, take it to your dealer to have the TSB fix applied as soon as possible. Even if you just purchased a new car, if you feel as though something may be wrong it is always a good idea to take the vehicle back to the dealership to have it inspected and to look for any TSBs that may have been issued for that model.
Even cars that employ the peak of new technology can have significant issues when first purchased. When testing the then all-new 2018 Tesla Model 3 sedan, Consumer Reports’ engineering team found the stopping distances for the vehicle were long and inconsistent. When testing braking distance when going 60 mph, the Tesla stop distance was seven feet longer than a Ford F-150 and 25 feet longer than Tesla’s Model X SUV. Tesla fixed the problem by using an over-the-air update to the Model 3’s ABS software which improved the braking distance significantly. This made the vehicle much safer to drive. Though it is incredibly exciting to get a new vehicle – especially one with the latest technology – the day that it comes out on the lot, many car experts suggest waiting a few months to purchase a new model of motor vehicle. An all-too-common problem with new or heavily redesigned models of cars is early production “teething.” This means that newly released vehicles are often the first to go back to the dealer for a TSB, recall, or repair within the first few weeks of ownership. This can be incredibly frustrating as a consumer since you expect your new car to work perfectly. By waiting a few months, you may be able to get that same new car with all TSB repairs completed.
If you want to buy a new car but worry the model may have a TSB issued, you can visit NHTSA’s Safety Issues & Recalls page. To find your vehicle, type in the unique 17-character vehicle identification number (VIN) or its year, make, and model. The site will display any recalls, investigations, or complaints made about that specific car. You can also find manufacturer communications that include TSBs, service campaigns, and other important vehicle information. This section will show if the car has any reported problems that need repairs. There are even repair instructions that manufacturers send to dealers. Your dealership can also look up any TSBs that may be associated with your vehicle if you have concerns about how it functions. You can provide your VIN number to the dealership and they can let you know if it requires repairs and whether you would be charged for them.
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