The Most Common Hyundai Problems

Airbags, soy-based wiring, and ABS circuitry create problems in some Hyundais. Learn more about common problems and what models and years to avoid.
Written by Rachel Rigolino
Reviewed by Melanie Reiff
Common Hyundai problems have included issues with airbag deployment, rodents eating wiring(!), fires caused by short-circuiting ABS modules, and crash sensor defects, among other issues.
In 2022, JD Power cited Hyundai Motor Company for being the top-ranked automotive brand in the US for vehicle dependability. However, this does not mean all models are equally reliable. 
If you’re in the market for a new or used Hyundai, take a look at this guide, compiled by
car insurance
expert app
. In this guide, you’ll find information about common problems as well as specific model years to look for and which ones to avoid.
And if you're spending too much on
Hyundai insurance costs
, Jerry can help with that, too!
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What are the most common Hyundai problems?

Hyundai has come a long way since the 1980s, when their Excel and early
models were known for being affordable but cheaply made. This reputation changed around 2000, when the founder’s son, Chung Mong-koo, set out to transform the South Korean car company’s image. 
Now, Hyundais are still known for producing affordable vehicles—but ones that are very well designed and constructed.
Despite Hyundai’s successes over the past two-plus decades, certain problems have cropped up with Hyundai models. They include:
  • 2010-2015
    Nu engine problems: including an annoying ticking sound and engine bearing failures
  • ABS problems: short-circuiting modules and water leaking into ABS systems
  • Crash sensor problems: including defective airbag control units (recalls were issued for 2011-13 Sonatas because of this problem)
  • Wiring issues: rodents have been attracted to (and proceeded to eat) soy-based wiring
The Hyundai model with the most issues? The 2011 Hyundai Sonata is hands-down the worst offender, with owners reporting the following problems:
  • Engine seizing 
  • Electrical issues
  • Airbag deployment failures
  • Rough idle
    caused by faulty EGR switch valve
  • Problem with the
    accelerator pedal
  • Transmission problems (won’t shift)
  • Parking lights fail to turn off
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
(NHTSA) has issued between 14-17 safety recalls for the 2011 Hyundai Sonata.
At this point, because the model year is so old, you may find what looks like a good deal on a 2011 Sonata, but be sure to check the vehicle’s service history before making an offer. While it is true the Sonata is a popular car beloved by many owners, the 2011 model year is one to avoid. 
Pro Tip The 2010 Sonata had substantially fewer problems than the following model year, so if you are in the market for an inexpensive, older car, choose a 2010 over a 2011. One year can make all the difference!
These are the most common Hyundai problems across specific models and years.
Starting price
J.D. Power reliability rating for 2022 model
Most common problems
Years to avoid
Safety issues; seizing engine; problems with shifting; lights stay on; steering issues
**2011**, 2012, 2013, 2015
Airbag warning light; airbags; defective/exploding seat belt pretensioner; engine light; acceleration; lane assist
2009, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2017
Santa Fe
Transmission problems; faulty speakers; stalling
2013, 2014, 2017
Acceleration issues; faulty transmission; collision avoidance system
2006, 2008, 2009, 2001, 2012, 2016, 2017
airbags; wiring issues
2002, 2004, 2009-2014, 2016
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Most common Hyundai Sonata problems

Average annual repair cost: $468 complaints: 2,254
Older Sonatas have seen problems with engine failures, which resulted in a class-action lawsuit in 2016. Other issues include problems with shifting gears (2012) and defective lights (2003-2015).
In newer Sonatas, owners have reported miscellaneous issues, from problems with XM satellite antennas to problems with the electrical system
One recall has been issued for the 2022 Sonata for a problem with the fuel pipe. However, JD Power did rate the 2022 year model 83/100, which is considered great for reliability.

Most common Hyundai Elantra problems 

Average annual repair cost: $452 complaints: 1,464
In older models, the most prevalent problem was with airbags, either because the airbag warning lights switched on and off or because of accidental deployment. Engine problems plagued some years, particularly in 2013, with owners reporting the engine seizing
Another area of concern was the possibility of an electrical short in the ABS module, which caused fires. 
The 2022 Elantra received an 80/100 reliability rating by JD Powers, which is considered good. So far, reported problems are few and varied, from problems with lane assist technology to failure to accelerate properly. 
The 2022 model has one recall that has been issued for the seatbelt pretensioner, which can explode in an accident, potentially sending shards of metal into the car’s cabin.

Most common Hyundai Santa Fe problems 

Average annual repair cost: $515 complaints: 1,080
Transmission problems were an issue for the 2017
Hyundai Santa Fe
, while problems with faulty speakers were more widespread in 2008, 2009, 2011, and 2017. Engine stalling has also been a source of complaints, particularly in 2014 models.
JD Powers gave the 2022 Sante Fe 81/100 for reliability. According to NHTSA, there were 13 miscellaneous complaints for this year’s model, three of which concern the SUV’s electrical system. The 2022 model has one recall for a problem with the oil supply pipe, which may crack. 

Most common Hyundai Tucson problems 

Average annual repair cost: $426 complaints: 759
Hyundai Tucsons
saw some problems with acceleration, particularly in the 2016-2018 models. Another problem affecting 2016-2019 models involves issues with the collision avoidance system as well as a problem with the blindspot warning system.
JD Powers gave the 2022 Tucson a rating of 88 for quality and reliability, which is considered great. One recall has been issued for the 2022 Tucson, which involves software installed in the integrated central control unit.

Most common Hyundai Accent problems

Average annual repair cost: $444 complaints: 264
In older models, three main issues seem to plague the
Hyundai Accent
: problems with airbags, transmissions, and issues with their soy-based wiring system, which rodents liked to eat! A class-action suit was filed against Hyundai in regards to the wiring issue. 
Fortunately, the 2022 Accent received an outstanding 90/100 reliability rating from JD Powers. There have been no safety recalls for the 2002 Accent.

Are Hyundai cars reliable?

In general, yes, Hyundais are reliable cars. RepairPal awards the Hyundai brand four out of five stars, and JD Power has given Hyundai an award every year since 2003 (with the exception of 2020). Consumer Reports gives Hyundai an average or better rating for reliability.
While Hyundai has a good general reputation for reliable vehicles, keep in mind that individual models and years vary in terms of their reliability.
According to RepairPal statistics, the average annual repair costs for a Hyundai total $468, which is lower than the annual repair cost average of $652 across all vehicle makes.

The least reliable Hyundai model: 2011 Hyundai Sonata

Most common problems: Airbags and electrical system
NHTSA owner complaints: 3,062
Recalls: 14-17
The Sonata is a commuter workhorse, so the fact that the 2011 model has over 3,000 complaints is in part attributable to the fact that it is one of Hyundai’s best-selling models. 
However, that is still a large number, especially when compared with the 2010 model, which recorded 329 complaints. The sixth generation Sonata got a facelift in 2011, and that may be the root cause of the problems with this model year. 
If you are looking for a more reliable used car, choose the 2010 Sonata, which is considered one of the best years for the Sonata in terms of reliability (87/100 by JD Power). In fact, the 2010 model had only two recalls and 329 complaints—quite a contrast!

The most reliable Hyundai model: 2018 Hyundai Kona

Most common problem: Isolated
NHTSA owner complaints: 22 (not bad, considering the thousands of 2018 Konas sold!)
Recalls: None
If you are looking for an affordable, reliable SUV, the 2018
Hyundai Kona
may be a good bet. The current Kelly Blue Book price range for a used 2018 Kona is between $19,000 and $22,000, with the average price hovering around $20,000. Of course, prices fluctuate. 

How to buy hassle-free car insurance

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With regular maintenance, a Hyundai’s engine can last for up to 20 years or 300,000 miles.
In 2022, JD Power designated Hyundai Motor Group as the top-ranked automotive brand in the US for vehicle dependability. This is because so few Hyundai owners lodged complaints about their 2022 models. 
While the award is impressive, this does not mean that specific model years are without problems.
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