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Hyundai recalls nearly 140,000 Sonata sedans in US

South Korea's top automaker Hyundai Motor is recalling nearly 140,000 of its 2011 model year Sonata sedans in the United States due to a steering problem, US authorities said Sunday.

Hyundai is recalling 139,500 vehicles because of a problem with the steering column, in which "the driver could experience a loss of, or reduction in, steering capability increasing the risk of a crash," the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said.

The recall is expected to begin in October, the NHTSA said on its website.

The NHTSA said that dealers "will inspect the steering column intermediate shaft universal joint connections for proper assembly and torque," and will update the power steering software.

It's not the first time that the Sonatas have experienced mechanical trouble: on February 24 the company said it was recalling 47,300 of its latest Sonata sedans in the United States and the domestic market due to a possible door lock problem.

Separately, Hyundai ordered the recall of more than 500 Tucson sport utility vehicles in the United States in early March due to potentially defective airbags.

Recalls come at a sensitive time for the world auto industry after Japan's Toyota was forced to recall millions of vehicles worldwide earlier in the year.

Hyundai's US auto sales rose 8.3 percent to 435,064 in 2009, giving it a market share there of 4.2 percent compared to 3 percent in 2008.

The company's overseas plants account for about half of Hyundai's total sales.

On September 7 the head of South Korea's second-largest automaker, Kia Motors, resigned to take responsibility for the recall of tens of thousands of cars over faulty electrical wiring.

Chung Sung-Eun, who is also a vice chairman of the Hyundai-Kia Automotive Group, stepped down after Kia had to issue a global recall of 85,900 vehicles.

Hyundai and Kia together form the world's fifth largest automaking group and have been pushing hard in recent years to improve quality.