Defective 7 Speed Dual Clutch and Defective Transmission Control Module
Model years 2016 and 2017 Hyundai Elantra Eco, Sonata Eco, Tucson, and Veloster Turbo have defects in the transmission control module (TCM) and the 7 speed dual clutch automatic transmission (DCT) that impair your use, value, and safety. The TCM and DCT defects causes, among other problems, unresponsive accelerator pedal, delayed or no acceleration, jerking, shuddering, shaking, failure to shift, stalling, and/or loss of power.
Is This Your Car or SUV?
If you purchased or leased one of the following cars or SUVs:
- 2017 Hyundai Elantra Eco
- 2017 Hyundai Sonata Eco
- 2016 – 2017 Hyundai Tucson
- 2016 Hyunda Veloster Turbo
and have experienced any of these problems, you may have a lemon under California’s Lemon law. If you have brought your vehicle to the dealer at least two times, and the dealer has not been able to repair the problem, duplicate the problem, or you have been told there is nothing wrong with your Hyundai, you may be entitled to a buyback or repurchase under the California Lemon Law.
History of the TCM and DCT Defects
Hyundai began development of its new DCT in 2011: “The design phase [for the DCT] was started in early 2011, and the mass production started in September 2014 at the Hyundai-Dymos plant located in South Korea.” Hyundai learned of the TCM Defect during this period. Hyundai knew that “[o]ne of the most important issues was to know the temperature of the clutch lining to prevent system failure at high temperature” so “a precise clutch temperature model was developed, and validated through rig and vehicle tests simulating a large number of different driving conditions” including “high speed at German Autobahn, heavy traffic jam in Seoul, long distance cruise in the USA, high temperature in Middle East, cold conditions in Eastern Europe as well as high humidity and rough road in China.” Hyundai premiered the DCT in October 2014. Designed to “provide an improvement in fuel consumption and CO2 emission compared to a conventional six-gear automated transmission, while acceleration performance increases,” the DCT features two dry clutches that transfer engine power “independently into the off and even gear train to always be ready to shift into the next gear.” The TCM is a small electronic component within the powertrain that processes data from various sensors throughout the engine in order to determine the optimal gear for shifting and fuel-economy.
What is the Defect in the TCM and DCT?
The TCM misinterprets data from the vehicle’s sensors, thereby miscalculating both the appropriate gear and the correct shift timing. These miscalculations result in an unresponsive accelerator pedal, delayed or no acceleration, jerking, shuddering, shaking, and stalling. The defects cause dangerous and unsafe conditions, including failing to shift, stalling and delayed or unresponsive acceleration, especially from a stop. These conditions substantially impair the driver’s ability to control the vehicle during normal operation and prevent drivers from accelerating safely to maintain safe speeds in traffic. For example, the TCM Defect makes it difficult to accelerate safely from traffic stops because the vehicle will hesitate, fail to shift gears, and stall when drivers depress the gas pedal to gain speed.
Hyundai’s Knowledge of the Defects
Since at least 2015, through consumer complaints and dealership repair orders, among other internal sources, Hyundai knew or should have known that the DCT and DCT contained a defect that diminishes the drivability of DCT-equipped vehicles and creates safety hazards. Since at least December 2015, Hyundai was aware of the TCM and DCT defects based on consumer complaints made online and to its authorized repair facilities and dealers. Since at least November 14, 2016, HYUNDAI and its authorized repair facilities knew or should have known the TCM and DCT in its vehicles were susceptible to software issues causing drivability problems at low speeds.
Since at least 2015, Hyundai knew about the TCM and DCT defects through sources not available to consumers including, but not limited to, pre-release testing data, early consumer complaints about the TCM and DCT defects to Hyundai and its authorized dealers and repair facilities, testing conducted in response to those complaints, high failure rates of the DCT in DCT-equipped vehicles, replacement part sales data, warranty repair rates and cost data, and other aggregate data from Hyundai dealers and repair facilities.
In or around June 2016, Hyundai began to investigate customer reports on DCT-equipped Tucson vehicles that after coming to a stop the engine would rev but the vehicles would not accelerate. The reports Hyundai received explained that this issue was intermittent and not repeatable. This investigation into 2016 DCT-equipped Tucson vehicles continued through July 2016.
In August 2016, Hyundai developed and tested a software update purportedly to address this acceleration concern in 2016 DCT-equipped Tucson vehicles. Hyundai continued to study field reports of vehicles that failed to properly accelerate. In or around August 2016, Hyundai issued service bulletin #5NP-X7J3D-10 for certain Hyundai Tucson vehicles featuring the DCT. In the bulletin, Hyundai told its dealers that the “transmission clutch application logic can result in a delayed engagement when accelerating from a stop…[and] the inability to move the vehicle in traffic may increase the risk of a crash.” Hyundai did not provide any details regarding the remedies available at the time. On August 10, 2016, Hyundai released Technical Service Bulletin (“TSB”) Number 16-01-035 to its dealerships and authorized repair facilities. The TSB “provides information related to the TCU software update” for 2016 Hyundai Tucson vehicles “that may experience a delay in movement when accelerating from a stop.” On August 10, 2016, Hyundai met with NHTSA and the topic of Tucson delayed clutch engagement was discussed. The NHTSA Office of Defects Investigation (“ODI”) provided more customer complaints regarding the vehicles not accelerating even when the pedal was pressed repeatedly for Hyundai’s review. Less than two weeks later, on August 22, 2016, Hyundai decided to proceed with a safety recall campaign to reprogram the TCM on 2016 Tucson vehicles equipped with the DCT. On or around August 29, 2016, Hyundai submitted a Part 573 Safety Recall Report regarding Recall Campaign 149 (NHTSA ID 16V-628). This means that Hyundai determined the TCM Defect was a safety related defect no earlier than August 22, 2016, assuming Hyundai complied with federal law. Within the Part 573 Report, Hyundai stated “in higher ambient temperatures and specific operating conditions, the transmission clutch application logic can result in a delayed engagement when accelerating from a stop” and “if the accelerator pedal is repeatedly cycled, the vehicle will not accelerate.” Hyundai also disclosed that the inability to move the vehicle in traffic may increase the risk of a crash.
On or around September 2, 2016, HYUNDAI released service bulletin 5NP-S9D9P-10, providing its authorized dealers, repair facilities, and technicians with “information on components, attributes, and precautions of the 7-speed dry-type dual clutch transmission (DCT)” in all applicable vehicles. No further details regarding the information made available to dealers appears to have been provided to NHTSA by Hyundai. On or around September 6, 2016, Hyundai initiated Recall Campaign 149 (NHTSA ID 16V-628), entitled “2016 Tucson Dual Clutch Transmission Reprogramming.” The recall affected certain 2016 Hyundai Tucson vehicles equipped with the DCT for a faulty “transmission clutch application logic [that] can result in a delayed engagement when accelerating from a stop” or fail to accelerate at all “if the accelerator pedal is repeatedly cycled” in specific conditions. On the same day, September 6, 2016, Hyundai disseminated TSB 16-01-038 to its dealerships and authorized repair facilities in California and across the United States. The TSB described the procedure Hyundai proposed to NHTSA, and which NHTSA accepted, as proper to reprogram the TCM in the affected vehicles.
HYUNDAI limited this recall and software update to specific 2016 Hyundai Tucson vehicles, despite HYUNDAI’s knowledge that owners of other vehicles equipped with the same DCT were complaining of similar issues. Hyundai’s repair procedure in Recall Campaign 149 and TSB 16-01-038 was ineffective. Owners of vehicles who had the recall performed continued to experience and complain about the TCM Defect. After issuing Recall Campaign 149 and TSB 16-01-038, Hyundai continued to monitor the TCM Defect in the field, and kept testing and updating the repair procedure for the TCM Defect. In November 2016, Hyundai issued TSB 16-01-038-1, which superseded TSB 16-01-038 with updated DCT control logic software that included some improvements to low speed driving characteristics and a malfunction indicator light for Diagnostic Trouble Code (“DTC”) P0128 – Coolant Thermostat – Coolant Temp Below Thermostat Regulating Temperature. This TSB clearly references Recall 149, and applies to 2016 Tucson vehicles.
On November 14, 2016, Hyundai issued TSB 16-01-057. In an accompanying notice to its dealers and authorized repair facilities, Hyundai stated that it was conducting a service campaign “T1B” to update both the Engine Control Module (“ECM”) and TCM on certain 2016 and 2017 Tucson vehicles with DCT. Hyundai disclosed in the TSB that 2016 and 2017 Hyundai Tucson vehicles were experiencing hesitation at low speeds and a malfunction indicator light set for DTC P0128 – Coolant Thermostat – Coolant Temp Below Thermostat Regulating Temperature. The TCM required a software update. On November 14, 2016, Hyundai issued TSB 16-01-058. In an accompanying letter to its dealers and authorized repair facilities Hyundai stated that it was conducting a service campaign “T1C” to update the TCM on certain 2017 Tucson vehicles equipped with the DCT. Hyundai disclosed in the TSB that 2017 Hyundai Tucson vehicles were experiencing hesitation at low speeds. The TCM required a software update.
In March 2017, Hyundai issued TSB 17-01-023. This TSB superseded TSB 16-01-038-1, and updated the software fix for Recall 149, meaning it was limited to 2016 Hyundai Tucson vehicles, despite HYUNDAI having already issued TSBs for 2017 Hyundai Tucson vehicles with low speed drivability issues. The TSB states that the TCM Defect can “result in a delayed engagement when accelerating from a stop.” In March 2017, Hyundai issued TSB 17-01-024. This TSB superseded TSB 16-01-057, and updated the software fix from Service Campaign “T1B,” meaning it applied to 2016 and 2017 Hyundai Tucson vehicles
The TCM and DCT Defectd Pose an Unreasonable Safety Hazard
The TCM and DCT defects are dangerous with the symptoms manifesting as failing to shift, stalling, and hesitating or failing to accelerate. These conditions substantially impair the driver’s ability to control the vehicle’s acceleration during normal driving conditions and prevent drivers from maintaining the appropriate and expected speed in traffic. These conditions also substantially impair the driver’s ability to react to unexpected changes in speed and traffic patterns (i.e. the need to quickly accelerate to avoid a collision.)
Many purchasers and lessees of vehicles equipped with the DCT have experienced problems with the DCT and the TCM Defect. Complaints filed by consumers with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”) and elsewhere online demonstrate that the TCM Defect is widespread and dangerous, manifesting without warning. The complaints also implicate Hyundai’s awareness of the defective design for its consumers.
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