Hyundai Motor America Inc. late Tuesday told regulators that front door-lock modules on some 2011 Sonatas can stick under some circumstances.
The Korean automaker planned to notify customers of a recall.
“Anything to do with door latches warrants a recall,” said Hyundai spokesman Miles Johnson in Fountain Valley, Calif.
Earlier Tuesday, Hyundai ordered a halt to sales of the 2011 Sonata after notifying dealers of the problem.
The recall will affect about 1,300 of the 2011 Sonata sedans built through Feb. 16 at Hyundai's plant in Alabama and sold to customers, plus 46,000 Sonata units produced through Dec. 6 in South Korea. The new model started to be sold from September 2009 in South Korea and this month in the United States.
It will notify South Korea's transport ministry and the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration this week of the decision to recall the cars in March.
The company said it received complaints from customers but no reports of accidents or injuries related to the model.
With intense scrutiny bearing down on rival Toyota Motor Corp., Hyundai hopes to quickly resolve the product glitch on the recently released sedan.
The Sonata is Hyundai's biggest-volume vehicle, with 2009 sales of 120,028 cars. The 2011 model went on sale only two weeks ago. There are currently only about 5,000 cars in U.S. inventory, and about 1,300 have been sold, Johnson said .
It is unclear how many of those have the faulty locks.
Johnson said the malfunction occurs only in situations where front-seat passengers try to open their doors from the inside while simultaneously holding down the lock button. In that circumstance, the interior door handle will not return to its normal position, and passengers cannot fully close the door.
If they press the lock button again, the handle will correct itself and allow the door to function correctly.
He acknowledged that there is heightened sensitivity to product issues at the moment because of the headlines and congressional hearings surrounding Toyota's global recalls of 8.5 million vehicles over safety concerns since late last year.
The Sonata repair will consist of replacing the front door-lock mechanism. Johnson said the replacement parts will begin reaching dealerships tomorrow, and the stop-sale will be lifted as soon as repairs are made.
He said communications to NHTSA and to vehicle owners will begin this week.
Reuters contributed to this report.