In this line of work, we have come across many letters and photos from people who bought a car, only to be let down by a fault in servicing. Typically we course those emails through the proper channels, hopefully bypassing the corporate layers to get to the people that can make something happen.

This one is different.

Santa Fe rear

Following our story about a new Hyundai Santa Fe that somehow caught fire, another Santa Fe owner has come forward. If the previous owner had a problem with seemingly 'spontaneous combustion' on the front bumper, this owner, Rey R. Andres, has the opposite issue: 'spontaneous precipitation' in the trunk.

Yes, water was somehow gathering in the trunk of his Santa Fe, despite repeated efforts to correct it.

In the letter published in full below, Mr. Andres emotionally (and rather eloquently) narrates the tale of his beloved Santa Fe, and we as car owners and enthusiasts ourselves can't help but empathize the pain he must feel to have realized his car has an inherent issue.

The Philippines current does not have a Car Lemon Law in place, it was filed in Congress recently though.

Read on.



I love my 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe DM. My two daughters adore it. My wife is awed by its presence. But for all the love and admiration felt for this particular Santa Fe, deep in my heart I am more than convinced, I could have gotten a better Santa Fe.

I took delivery of the Red Merlot Santa Fe way back on the 10th of October, 2012. Barely a week later I discovered a pool of water at the bottom left side of the trunk. Fearing that the lift gate was not properly closed during the washing of the car, I made sure everyday thereafter to check that the lift gate was properly closed. But every time after washing the car and worse, after a heavy rainfall, the secondary carpet (trunk carpet) was very wet and upon lifting the tool box, a great pool of water awaits my sponge to transfer the water to our bathroom tabo. Sometimes I wonder if the Storm Edge design somehow creates a pool of water inside the Santa Fe.

I love my Santa Fe.. The exterior is mesmerizing and appealing to the eyes. The interior has that luxury touch and an ambiance filled with a safe and luxurious feeling. The dashboard meets with the eyes, the instrument panel is unmistakable and the driver seat provides secured comfort for someone like me who loves to drive.

After forty years of driving a gasoline-fed engine with a manual transmission, the manager of the dealership convinced me to try a diesel with an automatic transmission. Since the Santa Fe was the kind of car I fell in love with, with hesitation, I decided to be a proud owner of one. I do not regret owning a Santa Fe, much more driving a diesel with automatic transmission Santa Fe. And even as I write this reflection, I am still proud to own a Santa Fe.

I brought the Santa Fe to my dealer and, as usual, I am treated as a VIC; a very important customer. I guess I earned it because for the last three years I have bought three cars from them. First was an i10. Ten months later, I sold the i10 to buy the mighty and proud Tucson. Two years later I sold the Tucson so I can buy the all new Santa Fe, my dream car. And all those purchases were SRP with no discounts. I guess I do deserve to be very important to my dealership.

The manager immediately called almost every mechanic, technician, body welder and even the security guard to attend to my needs ASAP. After evaluating the areas of the possible leak, I was told that a HARI technician would be arriving within the week after All Soul's Day to assist the dealership in pinpointing and repairing the cause of water seeping through the shell of the car.

And the journey to unloving (but not cursing) HARI had begun.

The HARI technician did arrive as promised and after two days I did not know what has been done to my Santa Fe. The problem, I was told, has been corrected. Together with the manager, the HARI technician, the dealership welders and technicians, we proceeded to the carwash area where a carwash boy sprayed and sprayed water on the roof of the Santa Fe. After fifteen minutes, the HARI technician proudly told me to open the trunk and witness the dry and shampooed secondary carpet (I still wonder why they did not bother to shampoo the primary carpet). When I opened the trunk, lo and behold, almost a third of the water from the water spray was seemingly undulating, beckoning a surf ride. The HARI technician appeared embarrassed and explained he thought the problem was already corrected because they have previously run water on the roof. Apparently not. Then the HARI technician sought help from the bystanders ,(the dealership technicians, welders, electrician, etc.) and they started dismantling the rear bumper, then the third row seats, then the side panels, and the secondary carpet (I still cannot fathom why the second row seats and the front seats were not taken out to pull out the primary carpet), and sure enough, the secondary carpet was dripping wet as if indeed a surf board had drowned in a storm surge.

All this time I watched with pain and sadness as the rear of the Santa Fe lay naked as if vandalized for no apparent reason, but I know the dismantling issue was necessary. I felt sad that this car I have loved was being stripped before my eyes. I felt a stinging pain in my heart but I know, that the dealership will take care -very good care- of my Santa Fe.

The screws and screw holes holding the tail lamps were discovered to be wet. The HARI technician surmised that the screws could just be possibly be loose. They retightened the screws, ran water on the roof and voila, there was no more water flowing into the trunk. Problem solved, so all of us thought.

I prayed for rain that day. None came. Two days later the October rain came rushing from the clouds and pelting roofs and the ground with so much intensity as if it was a hail storm. I parked the Santa Fe where the raindrops would not miss it and, after the rain, I opened the trunk and maybe, just maybe, the storm edge design does not create a pool of water inside the trunk.

While I reckon that I am not a car enthusiast, much less an informed car technician, the engine of the Santa Fe is simply marvelous. While it seems that the car is bored in city driving, the open highways and stretches of roads, whether paved or rough, is its home. The Santa Fe glides with grace but with a firm grip on the cemented road; silent and unassuming. But with a light touch on the gas pedal, the Santa Fe welcomes the rushing of the wind, enjoying the speed by which it was bred.

The rough uneven unpaved roads to one of the city’s barangays was a road that the Santa fe did not mind traversing. The Santa Fe seems to be smiling and unfazed all through out the thumps and thuds, the stones and potholes along the road, confident that the multi-link suspension (whatever that is) will just absorb the rattles and the juggles, still providing a comfortable ride without a headache and a bruise. The Santa Fe's diesel engine did not growl nor gruff while running through those rough roads, but exhibited an agile movement coursed through a seamless, smooth shifting of gears.

I love my Santa Fe; the way the car handles, riding comfort and a diesel engine with a 197 hp and 433 Newton-meters of torque that faces the many challenges of an ever changing road, but deep in my heart, I know I deserve a better shelled Santa Fe.

With the kind of pain I cannot describe, I started an email to HARI addressed to Ms. Fe Agudo in the hope that she might read the email (hoping against hope) and will understand my plight and the pain I am experiencing with a brand new Hyundai Santa Fe bought at 1.768m without a discount.

I have asked that the unit be replaced by HARI for a factory defect on the shell. The answer to my email was short and perfunctory; too impersonal and devoid of any customer sympathy. The customer service simply stated that I should take the car to the dealership and that I should read the warranty where it is written that any defects will be repaired or replaced by Hyundai. I answered that since it was the shell of the car that was defective, will HARI replaced the shell? The answer was simply, take your car back to your respective dealer for repairs.

That kind of answer could have not come from Ms. Agudo although all my emails were addressed to her. While I do not know her personally all the articles (well, mostly, written about her) did not escape my reading, hence, a respect with utmost admiration was all I have for her. But apparently, as most CEOs, she is engrossed with debit and credit, profit and loss statements only, unmindful of a few who were and are pleading for understanding.

All of HARI in their press releases were simply press releases and image perfuming to convince people like me to buy their cars. And the Queen perched in her pedestal would not dare shed a tear for those unhappy souls with a defective Hyundai car. The argument would simply be HARI is a distributor. Go tell your problems to your dealer. Well it befits the acronym: HARI = King,

For whatever it is worth though, HARI did replace (maybe as a consolation) the secondary carpet. And I still find it amusing until now why the primary carpet was left out of the equation when the carpet suffered drowning also. I initially turned down the offer but eventually relented to receiving the replacement secondary carpet which I cut into pieces and made them the matting for the car.

I love my Santa Fe. Through all the kilometers (11,000kms so far to his date) we both have travelled, there was no complaint on the santa fe. The car continues a faithful commitment to elucidate praises when standing still, and admiring glances while on cruise. The Santa Fe exhibits the kind of athleticism that define its character, unafraid and determined.

Even on the twists and turns along Dalton Pass, the Santa Fe blazed through the uphill and downhill stretches of the road without nary a whimper overtaking trucks, trailers and other cars. There was no hesitation, wiggle or wobble on sharp turns as confident as the Santa Fe as I am on the dependability of the anti-lock braking system. The Santa Fe was not afraid of any swerving, sliding off the road as the normal mode of the steering wheel seems to direct my hands to simply feel the tight grip on the road. The Santa Fe coasted along the long and winding roads of Dalton pass with grace and agility.

I love my Santa Fe. My kids (6 and 8 years of age) adore the car as the spacious trunk has become their playground whenever we make ‘pasyal’ every afternoon I get home from work. But the wife is egging me to sell the car and buy another brand. She feels my pain, my sadness and frustration.

Every morning, while I sip my coffee at the garage, I stare at the Santa Fe and always find the lines and creases amazing and fulfilling. But for all the love and admiration I feel for the Santa Fe, the irritating... nay, annoying pain lingers, for I believe that HARI could have given me a Santa Fe without a defect on the shell.

Perchance, when the long wheel base Santa Fe arrives, I will buy it from the grey market. The Santa Fe is an exciting and amazing car and definitely not the kind of car a distributor like HARI should be distributing.

Rey R. Andres

Director of Corporate Communication

De Vera Medical Center, Inc.


Santa Fe close-up

After an email exchange with Mr. Andres and after bringing it to his favorite garage, it appears that they have found a simple fix for the problem: good ol' fashioned silicone sealant on the screw homes, screws and the plastic plates that serves as the mount for the taillights.

Santa Fe close-up 2

The cost of the repair? Well, you can buy sealant like that for about PhP 100-150 in hardware stores.

After reading his letter, what do you think about how the situation was handled?


Update: Hyundai Asia Resources Inc. (HARI) writes to us their official reaction.