8 Jul 2016

Hyundai bonnet fault driver speaks out

7:15 pm on 8 July 2016

The driver of a Hyundai Tucson SUV says his bonnet was fully latched when it flew up in his face on the open road in February.

Colin Pitt’s car after the bonnet had flown up.

Colin Pitt’s car after the bonnet had flown up. Photo: Supplied.

Hyundai is recalling 1738 Tucson SUVs in New Zealand after the incident, which sparked a global recall.

Earlier this week New Zealand Hyundai general manager Andy Sinclair said the issue was with the bonnet's secondary safety latch.

"You'll know if you pop the bonnet it pops up and you put your finger underneath and there's a secondary latch that you open to get the bonnet fully open, so it's only if the bonnet's been popped that there could be a potential issue if you're driving with the bonnet popped on the open road."

But Colin Pitt said his leased Tucson was fully latched and Hyundai was the last to close it when it was serviced two weeks before it opened while he was driving in Waikato.

"The bonnet was fully latched and it was their service people that had closed it last, there was no warning on the dash and I was just driving along normally and it opened fully."

"What concerns me is that the implication in their press statement is that if you're driving round with the bonnet fully closed, you're okay, but that is not what happened to me.

Mr Pitt said the bonnet was fully closed when it popped open and blocked his vision.

He was travelling at 95 km/h on the open road near Lichfield when the incident occurred.

Mr Pitt said it was fortunate there were no cars behind him and none in front when the incident happened at 12.15pm.

"Suddenly the bonnet just popped open, blinded me, there was a tremendous bang. I was showered with glass because the inner layer of the windscreen came off.

"I just jumped on the brakes and eased it partially off the road then it forced the bonnet closed to be able to drive it completely off the road and get it safely out the way."

Mr Pitt said he was really shaken up, and even his lunch did not come out unscathed.

"The shockwave that went through the car popped the lid off my lunchbox and filled that with glass as well.

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Colin Pitt said the bonnet on his vehicle was fully latched when it flew open while he was driving. Photo: Supplied.

"There was no warning, it just opened without any warning at all and I must say it frightened the hell out of me. I was very pleased with myself for getting it off the road safely."

Mr Pitt said while Hyundai asked him a series of questions about the incident after it occurred, they didn't report any progress or remedy until Mr Pitt insisted on it.

He wants to see Hyundai get the affected vehicles in as quickly as possible to be fixed.

"If this happens to mum and dad and two kids on the motorway you've got a big problem."

He said Hyundai's response didn't rate well with him.

"They sent the junior sales guy to try to get me to take the car back without any of an explanation or any statement, you know, here's the problem and we've fixed it and it won't happen again, there was none of that.

Mr Pitt said he was lucky that the incident happened an open road with low traffic density.

"The week before I had been driving into central Auckland on the motorway, surrounded by vehicles of all descriptions, if it'd happened then it would've made the news... There would've been a lot of problems."

Australia's consumer safety agency said there was a risk that the secondary safety latch on the bonnet could come undone while the vehicle was moving, and the New Zealand Transport Agency also put a notification on its website about the recall.

Mr Sinclair said the incident involving Mr Pitt's vehicle was the only occurrence of a latch failure in the world, but had resulted in re-engineering to improve Tucson vehicle safety.

He said all affected Tucson owners had been contacted and invited to have the new safety latch fitted, as well as alerted to the bonnet safety warning light.