Hyundai sniffs out the source of SUVs’ stink


Hyundai apparently has solved the Case of the Odorous SUVs.

The culprit? Imitation leather headrests.

After owners of the Hyundai Palisade Limited and Calligraphy trim levels complained the vehicles smelled like “garlic breath” or old socks, the automaker traced the stink to a flaw in the manufacturing process for the head restraints.

Hyundai has changed how the restraints are made to prevent the problem from affecting new Palisades, according to, and has told dealerships to deodorize or replace the restraints if customers report an offensive odor.

“It’s a rare occurrence that they have to replace all seven headrests,” Hyundai spokesman Miles Johnson told “The engineering team is confident in the process.”

Hyundai said the problem affected a relatively small number of the nearly 100,000 Palisades sold in the U.S., but reported getting complaints from several hundred owners after it raised the issue in August. It said Hyundai provided a new set of headrests for the Palisade it bought for testing after two attempts by a dealership to exorcise the smell failed.

The replacements, Executive Editor Joe Wiesenfelder wrote, “seemed to do the trick.”

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