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I am staring at a mangled part that is a measly 89 cents when bought from the dealer. What makes this part notable is that it is under a defect recall for vehicles in the United States, but not Canada. I’m focusing on a Hyundai product, but this situation is not unique to them. I am no expert in the dealings between manufacturers and governmental agencies, but it appears manufacturers often have differing recall deals with Transport Canada than they do with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), often to our detriment here in Canada.

A damaged Hyundai coupler that Lou Trottier is replacing is a part that costs 89 cents and is under a defect recall in the U.S., but not Canada.Lou Tro/The Globe and Mail

The part in question is used in many Hyundai and Kia vehicles as part of their electronic power steering system. (Newer style power steering systems no longer use a power steering pump, belt and fluid, now a single electric motor does the same job.) The 89-cent part is a rubber/plastic coupler that mates this electric motor to the power assist unit. Because the motor is located inside the cabin, Hyundai designed the coupler out of a non-metal material to minimize motor whine and other noises. When the part starts to fail, it is recognizable as a clunking noise emanating from behind the steering wheel when turning the wheel left to right. The key to identifying this failure is that the noise is present when turning the steering wheel when the engine is running and then disappears once you shut off the car and turn the wheel in the same manner. The power assist electric motor is no longer running at this point; hence the noise disappears.

While technically not a difficult repair, it does take a few hours to replace this small part as the steering column has to be dropped and partially disassembled. Unless you are a very competent DIY’er, I would not attempt this repair at home as there are multiple electronic components in the area, such as an airbag that could be damaged in the process.

I have replaced this small part several times on various cars over the last year. Every time I order this piece from the dealer, I have staff check the vehicle’s serial number to see if there is a recall. Every time I am amazed when I am told no.

For those of you who have paid for an out-of-pocket repair for this part, I would hold onto any receipts as I can only hope that eventually, some relief is offered to affected owners via a recall here in Canada.


Your automotive questions answered

Hey Lou, you didn’t include how much *licence plate cover* tint is too much. I imagine because the answer (based upon the cars in my neighbourhood) is ‘there’s never enough’.

Seriously would love to ask the police why deep tint licence plate covers that obscure the plate are not reason for immediate pull over and fine.

Thanks – Ian W.

Throughout Canada the wording is similar but specifically in Ontario, the entire licence plate must be kept clean and be completely unobstructed, however there are no specifics detailing tint. But if the tint is dark enough to obstruct visibility at night, then you are giving a police officer a reason to pull you over and issue a ticket. If your plate is very dirty or peeling and even if the frame advertising the dealership where you bought the car is still present, you are also within a ticket-able offence area.

So why don’t the police ticket everyone immediately for plate tint that is too dark? My question to accompany yours is why don’t they ticket every obnoxiously loud car and motorcycle or every vehicle moderately exceeding the speed limit? I assume the answer is because there are only so many hours in a day, and police officers have other, more pressing tasks at hand.


Hi Lou, you recently had a question from a driver who wants to be able to listen to CD’s while driving. As you pointed out getting an after-market radio/CD player that fits is going to be quite difficult so you suggested he make peace with the idea of using Apple iTunes (or some other streaming service). There is a simpler option that would enable him to still listen to CD’s through a new car audio system. Pick up a portable CD, plug a $5 Bluetooth transmitter into the headphone jack, sync the radio Bluetooth to it (or if the new radio has an Aux input plug the headphone out into the aux input) adjust the volume and you’re away.

Love your column.

Greg N. – Toronto

Thank you, Greg. My initial thought was that if the car came with the ability to stream via Apple Car Play or Android auto, why not at least give it a try.

Otherwise, you have most definitely provided a usable solution. In my mind, this is still far more work than simply enjoying your music with an online music subscription, but who am I to tell anyone how to enjoy their music?

Lou Trottier is owner-operator of All About Imports in Mississauga. Have a question about maintenance and repair? E-mail globedrive@globeandmail.com, placing “Lou’s Garage” in the subject line.

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