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Hyundai's Lifetime Hybrid Battery Replacement Guarantee not as good as it sounds

Hyundai today released additional details regarding its Lifetime Hybrid Battery Replacement Guarantee. Hyundai's one stipulation which it choose to omit, was quite an important one.

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Initially announced at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit earlier this month, the Hybrid Battery Replacement Guarantee applies to all U.S. 2012 model year Sonata Hybrids. It will also apply to future Sonata Hybrid models that will be sold in the future. It is important to note that this is the first-of-its-kind in the industry. Not that many details about the program were released at that time though, other than Hyundai toting the program.

It seems the Hyundai Lifetime Hybrid Battery Replacement Guarantee is not quite as sweet as it sounds. If the 2012 Sonata Hybrid lithium polymer battery fails, Hyundai will replace the battery and cover recycling costs for the old battery pack free of charge to the original owner. Yes, “original owner” is the keyword here as coverage is not transferrable, and does not apply to leased or commercial vehicles. It also does not apply to vehicles serviced outside the U.S.

“Even with all the hybrid vehicle options on the market today, there is still limited demand for these vehicles because of barriers to customer adoption such as uncertainty about the technology and performance,” said Michael O’Brien, vice president, Corporate and Product Planning for Hyundai. “By offering the Lifetime Battery Replacement Guarantee, Hyundai is addressing customer concerns and demonstrating our confidence in the durability of our product.”

I don't disagree with my O'Brien, but when Hyundai announced the Lifetime Guarantee on the Hybrid batteries, it sounded to good to be true. Now that we know it won't apply to Sonata Hybrid models bought used, it was too good to be true! Honestly it feels like a bit of a bait and switch, but it is not surprising that there are some stipulations to the program. I guess Hyundai has not rocked the auto industry as much as we would have thought.

I highly doubt that people who buy Hybrids are going to want to keep the last-generation technology for years and years. I am sure the Hyundai bean-counters figured that by not covering used models. I am sure they are saving themselves quite a lot of money.

What are your thoughts about this? Would you still consider buying a Hyundai Sonata Hybrid?

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Anonymous (not verified)    January 31, 2012 - 9:12PM

Thank you for pointing out this out. All these hybrids are going to do is pollute our landfills with millions of hybrids that people will throw away because people who buy old cars won't be able to afford battery replacements.

Anonymous (not verified)    February 1, 2012 - 1:04AM

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

all though hybrid batteries have been lasting for well over 300,000 miles plus in many of cars..... i highly doubt you will keep your car that long.. likely your car will end up in the landfill with other cars... maybe the hybrid battery wont be there though because the battery might be used for something else down the road.. battery technology keeps getting better.. hybrids are very amazing

HKick (not verified)    September 19, 2018 - 2:25PM

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Ours just hit 71,000 miles and the hybrid battery is bad. Were the 2nd owners and it's not covered. Extended platinum "bumper to bumper" warranty doesn't cover hybrid batteries. First Hyundai and hybrid I've ever owned, it will be the last as well.

Anonymous (not verified)    February 1, 2012 - 11:13AM

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Sorry to burst your bubble, but cars rarely, if ever go into landfills. Even non-functional, wrecked, or just too-old-to-maintain cars are still worth their weight in steel, aluminum, lead, copper, rubber, etc to just get buried in the ground in some field. Those 'polluting' batteries will be recycled with the rest of the valuable materials in the car by a salvage yard. What do you think happens with your regular lead-acid battery when it dies in your car now?

Anonymous (not verified)    February 1, 2012 - 8:37AM

It is no suprise. The 10 year 100,000 mile warranty is only covered under the 1st owner as well, and there is nothing wrong with that. So whats the big news here? With Hyundai, in order to get the remainder of the warranty after the 1st owner it only costs $495 to continue the coverage. Still worth it to me.

Audra (not verified)    May 31, 2015 - 10:37PM

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Could you please tell me where to get the $495 Extended Warrantee for subsequent buyer and what it is called?

Leslie (not verified)    January 28, 2017 - 8:29PM

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

We are looking at pre-owned Sonata's right now, and your statement above has me intrigued. How do we find out more about the $495 coverage to continue the warranty. And does this include the hybrid battery warranty also, or just the 10y/100k mile warranty?

Anonymous (not verified)    February 1, 2012 - 11:51AM

Anyone remember Chrysler's Lifetime Powertrain warranty? It was only valid for the original owner too.

jay (not verified)    February 1, 2012 - 10:47PM

The problem is this. Battyeries don't last (think computer, power tools, cell phone ETC) Cars have no special magic here and their batteries are subject to more extreme weather. Despite the hype, car betteries face the same physics as everyone else, plus cost pressures are more extreme.

The value of the warranty WOULD be that it protects resale value, but these terms make it useless for that.

Anonymous (not verified)    February 2, 2012 - 3:03PM

I've owned Hyundai since 1999 and the 10 year/100,000 mile power train warranty has been the trump card, honored - even when my DIY maintenance documentation wasn't perfect.

Gone are the 50,000 mile warranty timing chains snapping at 51,000, the constant velocity (u)joints starting to 'click' out of 70,000 mile warranty, etc.

It's true that warranties may reflect statistics, but after Dad does the family car 60,000 miles, it's still in his name as the teenage kids, perhaps even grandparents add miles.

Even the later owner's have the "built to reliably handle 100,000 miles mechanically" in the back of their minds.

While the GM Volt EV battery("but it was totaled and caught fire weeks later in the junkyard) is getting politics/payback for "that unsafe 3 millionth Prius" - Hyundai gives their EV battery a forever warranty.

Could/should make a good Superbowl ad.

Adam Yamada-Hanff    February 4, 2012 - 10:13AM

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

I appreciate you sharing your experience with your Hyundai. The company has definitely made great quality strides in the last couple of years. Sounds like they have excellent customer service too!

I am sure Hyundai already has a good ad campaign for their Hybrid Guaratnee in the works. We will wait and see what those ads are.

JaimeN (not verified)    February 13, 2012 - 1:19PM

I keep my vehicles until the wheels come off.
This lifetime warranty program fits my needs (and probably many more others than you think).

It would be a no-brainer. Hyundai has me sold - if I ever get to the point of replacing my current gas guzzler.

Adam Yamada-Hanff    February 13, 2012 - 1:24PM

In reply to by JaimeN (not verified)

Jamie, Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Keeping cars running as long as you can is a great decision financially. I know a lot of people that do keep cars "until the wheels come off." If this type of program fits your needs, that's great!

There are a lot of people that get new cars every 2-3 years. So this Lifetime Hybrid Guarantee would not make sense.

sighhhhhh (not verified)    September 4, 2018 - 6:26AM

In reply to by Adam Yamada-Hanff

what are you? white and proud? where in the world did you manage to find the statistic for people generally change their cars in 2 to 3 years? come on man... you can do better than that. if you are not sure just google it. hopefully you learned something today because i know its hard for you.

David Stamat (not verified)    August 8, 2015 - 7:07PM

I purchased a used 2013 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid last month (replacing my 2006 Kia Sedona); and I LOVE IT! You forgot to mention that while the "lifetime" hybrid battery warranty is not transferable, the battery IS COVERED under Hyundai's "subsequent owner" policy for 10 years/100,000 miles. Ain't bad compared to everything else out there in the hybrid market.

Kumar (not verified)    August 7, 2016 - 8:46AM

In reply to by David Stamat (not verified)

Hi David, am planning to buy 2013 hyundai sonata hybrid...what all warranty is carried forward to the second owner...what os the battery warranty applicable for the second owner...what about other carry forward warranties..
Appreciate your quick response

Angel Sheilds (not verified)    December 2, 2015 - 4:11PM

I too bought a CPO 2013 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid last month. The Hybrid battery and all components are covered under the subsequent owner 10 year / 100,000 miles. My car has 30,000 miles on it. If I sell after driving another 30K miles, even the next owner will still have the hybrid battery and components covered for another 40K miles. This warranty is still much better than the competition.

Lou (not verified)    January 24, 2019 - 10:50PM

I was on the freeway driving about seventy miles an hour. My Hyundai Sonata hybrid inside lights start blinking bright yellow lights. A second later “ STOP VEHICLE DANGEROUS!!! Called Hyundai was told your car is not under warranty.

Kymberly Smith (not verified)    June 10, 2019 - 11:51AM

OK, I'm stressed and confused. I have a '16 Sonata Hybrid, second owner, have only had it @ 3 months, WELL under mileage, bought extended warranty - aaannnnd, the LITHIUM BATTERY IS BAD! Gggrrrrr. So, is Hyundai going to replace my bad battery or no? Can I take it to any dealer?

Joseph Lechert (not verified)    July 22, 2019 - 8:44PM

My hybrid battery just died at 185000 miles and I’m the original owner. We’re about to see in the next couple days if they are going to hold good on their warranty