Hyundai Motor America Informative - Rusted Engine Cradle Sub-Frame
My 2001 Sante Fe recently developed an acute pull to the right and misaligned (to the left) steering wheel. I was advised by my local Firestone Service that the engine cradle had rusted through and they actually recommended that I take the vehicle to the dealer, which to me meant that it was going to be expen$ive.
I soon learned that resulting from a NHTSA investigation that Hyundai is about to commence a recall of 2001-2003 Sante Fe and most likely some Sonata's within specified "Salt-belt" states.
The culprit is that a poorly designed drain structure allows for salt and brine to deposit on the sub-frame without a way to drain out. This allows for the salt to continue to work on the metal and thereby weaken it.
While officially the recall hasn't been announced as of this writing, Hyundai is addressing vehicles that are a safety concern.
If you own one of these vehicles and live in a salt-belt state, you should schedule an inspection at your local dealer to see what, if any work needs to be performed.
In the case of my Sante Fe, the tie-rod had actually pushed itself through the frame and had a high risk potential.
Here's the good news: Hyundai provided all the materials and performed all the work at no charge. While it's unfortunate that the problem occurred, I am extremely happy with their resolution.