An Edmonton woman believes her 2012 Hyundai Veracruz is unsafe after the same potentially-dangerous oil leak — now the subject of a continent-wide safety recall —  had to be repaired four times.

Cheryl Samu is questioning the adequacy of the repairs and wonders why she was told repeatedly by her Edmonton dealership that there was no recall.

“I either want them to give me a new car, give me my money back, or at least investigate this further,” she said.

Oil has leaked twice onto the SUV’s alternator causing the vehicle to shut down completely.

On one of those occasions, Samu was driving on a highway with her four-year-old son in his car seat.

“It started to lose power. It was difficult to use the brakes,” Samu said.

“And I just got over to the side of the road as quickly as I could, before it died.”

Samu said nothing in the SUV would work, not even the warning flashers.

“It’s unsafe,” Samu said. “I don’t want to put my kids in there.”

Samu said she was so angry after the fourth repair in October that she posted a complaint detailing the repair history on Hyundai Canada’s Facebook page.

She said the company called the next day to say her SUV had been recalled and telling her to take it back to West Edmonton Hyundai.

But after sitting in the service department for two hours, she said staff again told her there was no recall.

“I think they have a lack of communication in their department, obviously,” she said.

“And I don’t know, they don’t seem to care. And I want somebody to care.”

'She's got a great vehicle,' dealer says 

This past summer Hyundai USA announced the safety recall of more than 61,000 Veracruzes.

The vehicles were built over a five-and-a-half-year period between December 2006 and July 2012.

West Edmonton Hyundai

Samu’s dealer appeared unaware of Hyundai’s recall when it repaired the same problem twice. (CBC )

The recall was published on the website of the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in early July 2013 and a week later on Transport Canada’s website, affecting almost 9,500 more vehicles in this country.

The recall notice states engine oil may leak from the valve cover gasket and drop onto the alternator, causing the charging system to fail.

If that happens, the recall says, the result will be an “unexpected failure of motive power while driving, (which) increases the risk of a crash.”

The recall includes replacing the valve cover gasket and, if necessary, the alternator.

Dwayne Nelson, West Edmonton Hyundai’s general manager, said there’s often a delay, or “interim period”, between when the public is told about a recall and when dealers are given repair instructions.

“It’s too bad that this happened,” said Nelson.

“She’s got a great vehicle,” he said.

“I’m confident it’s fixed now, but it’s too bad it didn’t get fixed the first time. We do everything we can to make sure customers are happy.”

Same repair done four times

Samu wasn’t told about the recall before the four repairs, but she’s more than familiar with its specified repair.

The valve cover gasket on Samu’s Veracruz has now been replaced, under warranty, four times since she bought the vehicle in October 2011. The alternator has been replaced twice.

The third time the gasket was replaced was Aug. 25, 2014. Six weeks later it failed again, damaging the alternator for a second time, requiring the Veracruz to be towed back to the dealer.

Samu’s receipts for Aug. 25 and Oct. 6 state the vehicle was checked for recalls and that the dealer had “verified no outstanding service campaigns or recalls at this time”, despite the recall having been publicised almost three months before and repairs being well underway in the US.

“It boggles my mind that this can continue to go unnoticed,” Samu said.

U.S. company’s recall faster than Hyundai Canada’s

Hyundai USA notified owners of the recall on Sept. 3, and repairs started soon after.

However, Hyundai Canada said it is only now sending notices to owners in this country.

In an email to Go Public, Chad Heard, Hyundai Canada’s manager of public relations, wrote that notifications to owners “are distributed when a procedure is developed by the company and sufficient replacement parts (if required) have been received from suppliers.”

West Edmonton Hyundai should have been told about the recall and should have told Samu, according to George Iny of the Automobile Protection Association.

“There’s no reason for a company to be months late notifying dealers,” Iny said.

Transport Canada representative Roxanne Marchand called the amount of time between when the recall was announced and when Samu was notified “unusual”, and suggested she contact them “so that we may review the timeliness of notification to owners."

Marchand said owners must be notified about a recall within a reasonable amount of time, but that ‘“reasonable” must be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

Buy-back program was an option

Hyundai Canada or West Edmonton Hyundai should have told Samu her car’s recurrent problems could have been referred to binding arbitration, according to Steve Moody, General Manager of the Canadian Motor Vehicle Arbitration (CAMVAP).

CAMVAP is an industry-funded dispute-resolution program which can order a manufacturer to repair a defective vehicle or compensate its owner for out-of-pocket expenses.

Currently, vehicle model years dating back to 2011 are eligible for arbitration.

In addition, vehicles which have been in service fewer than 36 months may be eligible for a CAMVAP-ordered buy-back. However, Samu’s vehicle has been on the road since October 2012 and is no longer eligible, Moody said in an email.

“Unfortunately, she must not have known about our program,” Moody wrote.

Vehicle owners who have a dispute with a manufacturer can apply for arbitration at camvap.ca.

Hyundai knew about valve cover leaks for more than 6 years

Iny also criticized Hyundai for waiting until 2013 to issue a recall, saying it’s been aware of the valve cover gasket problems for more than six years.

In April 2008, Hyundai modified the valve cover gasket to address the leak, but the problems persisted.

“They were very slow on this problem. The knew about it for years before they issued the recall.” Iny said.

Iny said the fact Samu’s Veracruz has had the recommended repair four times should tell Hyundai something is wrong.

“That vehicle should have been essentially impounded, the consumer provided another vehicle, and Hyundai engineers (should be) looking over it to figure out why the fix they’ve already announced isn’t working,” he said.

“It’s probably time for Hyundai to buy that vehicle back.”

Samu said she’s not convinced by the assurance from West Edmonton Hyundai that the problem is fixed.

“Because obviously if you’ve replaced that same part over and over again, whether it’s under warranty or not, it’s still going to break down.”

“Would you want to drive my car, waiting for it to die and for someone to hit you on the side of the road?”