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Hyundai Santa Fe Problems – Avoid the 2007 & 2012 Years!

Hyundai Santa Fe Problems

The Hyundai Santa Fe is a sport utility vehicle, commonly known as an SUV, that is produced by the South Korean manufacturer Hyundai since the year 2000. It is named after Santa Fe, New Mexico, and was introduced as the 2001 model for the first SUV ever produced by the Hyundai car company. 

Auto Repairs Are EXPENSIVE


The Santa Fe was a hit with American buyers, with it becoming so popular that at times Hyundai had trouble keeping up with the popular demand. It became the company’s best seller and led to a high amount of success that Hyundai had in the United States. 


The second generation Hyundai Santa Fe earned the 2008 Consumer Reports “top pick” and was on the list of the top 10 vehicles for 2008. In 2012, the Santa Fe became available in two versions, with the five-seater sport in 2012. 


Despite being very popular in the United States and breaking sales records, the Hyundai Santa Fe problems caused some issues with potential buyers and the NHTSA during certain model years. The worst problem category regarding the Hyundai Santa Fe is the engine problems, with the 2007 having the most overall user complaints out of all of the years.


Despite 2007 having the most problems, 2012 is rated as the worst Hyundai Santa Fe year due to the inception of problems, the severity of the issues, and the cost of the repairs necessary to fix the damage or problems with the Santa Fe. The most reported problem of the years is with the 2007 Santa Fe for the fuel gauge not reading correctly.

2007 Hyundai Santa Fe Problems


As we know, the 2007 Hyundai Santa Fe had the most problems out of any year. It was after a few years of relative reliability, from the 2000 model to the 2006y model year. However, the 2007 had many user complaints about the fuel system and the interior accessories, while the NHTSA lodged 150 complaints about the fuel system, 163 regarding the brakes, and over 100 for the engine. 


The fuel system concerns regarding the 2007 Hyundai Santa Fe had to do with the fuel gauge not reading correctly, the check engine light coming on, the car being hard to start after filling the fuel tank, the pump shutting off while filling the tank, the gas cap cover sticking, and the fuel gauge not reading at all. The average owner repair cost for fixing the fuel gauge misreadings is around $520, with this problem occurring at just over 100,000 miles. The main fix is to replace one, or both, of the fuel sensors so that the gas reading can be accurate. 


The NHTSA fuel system complaints had to do with the fuel and propulsion system, the gasoline fuel system, and the fuel gauge system, with users stating that the fuel sensor had to be replaced, the headlights stop working, the driver’s side door no longer works to get to the gas tank, the accelerator can stick while merging, and the pressure gauge breaks after use. 


Regarding the user complaints about the interior accessories, this mainly focused on the problems with the fuel gauge not working, the sun visors breaking, and the door locks not engaging manually to secure the passengers of the car. The typical repair cost for the sun visor is around $170, with the main fix being to replace both front sun visors to increase visibility while driving. 


For the NHTSA complaints about the brakes problems, the main focus is on the electronic stability control, the service brakes, the hydraulic brakes, and the switch brake light. Users state that the vehicle can lose power and become difficult to steer, the electronic stability control indicator turns on and off, the spark plugs need to be replaced, the ESC turns off intermittently while driving, and the steering becomes very difficult to control. These issues generally occur at an average of just over 80,000 miles. 


The last category of the main concerns regarding 2007 Hyundai Santa Fe problems deal with the engine issues lodged by the NHTSA, with the majority focusing on the check engine light turning on, the cover gasket leaking, the ignition coil misfiring, and the cranking noise coming from under the hood, signaling to misfire of the engine. To repair the check engine light coming on, the typical repair cost is around $240, with users stating that the check engine light cars flashes while using.

2009 Hyundai Santa Fe Problems


After a slightly better year in 2008 from the previous disaster in 2007, 2009 went back up to having numerous user and NHTSA complaints. The main areas of concern for users focused on the body and paint problems, the interior accessories, and the engine, while the NHTSA complaints focused on the fuel system. 


The body and paint concerns for users focused on the paint coming off of their car, with the typical repair cost of this issue being around $2,840, with the most common solution being to repaint the vehicle. This occurs at an average of 74,000 miles and resulted in the car needing to be completely repainted, especially around the hood and the fenders. 


The interior accessories issues regarding the 2009 Hyundai Santa Fe deal with the fuel gauge sensor not working correctly, the shifter locking, the fuel sensor and engine light staying on, the interior paneling getting sticky, and the warning lights flashing repeatedly. To fix the fuel gauge sensor, the average repair cost is around $440 and involves replacing the fuel sensor or getting a new fuel pump.


NHTSA lodged the most complaints regarding the fuel system, with users stating the fuel level sensors stop working, the fuel gauge is inaccurate, and there is difficulty while filling the tank. The NHTSA had complaints in the categories of the fuel and propulsion system, the gasoline system, and the fuel gauge storage mechanism. Users state that the check engine light comes on repeatedly, the gas gauge is erratic, and the gas gauge fluctuates when it gets below ¼ fuel. 

2012 Hyundai Santa Fe Problems


The main categories of concern regarding the 2012 Hyundai Santa Fe deal with the engine of the users, along with the numerous complaints by the NHTSA, focusing on the engine, the brakes, and the electrical system. The 2012 Hyundai Santa Fe has a huge problem with the engine stalling while driving, with both the users and the NHTSA data showing a significant defect that occurs consistently at very low mileage. 


The main engine concerns from users refer to engine failure, the engine stalling while driving, the engine lags when starting, and oil leaks. To fix the engine failure, the typical repair cost comes out to an extremely high $5,100, with the most common solution being to replace the entire engine. An engine replacement is generally one of the most expensive repairs you can have done in your car. Users state that the engine can be blown after minimal use, reports of complete engine failure causing oil blockage, and the engine needs to be rebuilt. 


The NHTSA complaints about the braking system mainly refer to the service brakes, the electronic stability control, and the hydraulic braking system. These issues have caused 7 crashes and generally occur at a mileage of around 40,00 miles. Users state that the power steering cant turn off, the brakes and engine stall, the engine is filled with sludge, the decelerator can cut out, and the ABS lights will turn on during use. 

2013 Hyundai Santa Fe Problems


Even though 2012 has been rated the worst model year due to the prevalence of engine issues, the 2013 model actually had a higher amount of user complaints than the previous year. The main categories of concern for users dealt with the engine and interior accessories, while the NHTSA lodged over 120 complaints about the engine and 71 regarding the steering.


The main engine issues for the 2013 Santa Fe have to deal with the engine failure, the violent jerking while trying to accelerate, and the metal debris lodging in the crankshaft. The most common solution for engine failure deals with replacing the engine, with a typical repair cost of just below $4,000 and occurring at around 80,000 miles. The NHTSA complaints focused on the engine, vehicle speed control, and the engine cooling system, with users stating that the gas tank can leak, there is engine knocking, smoke and exhaust coming out of the vehicle, and the car can catch on fire, causing one crash, 12 fires, and one injury. 


The user complaints about the interior accessories are mainly superficial, with the areas of concern focusing on the Bluetooth not working, the navigation system turning off, the seat being loose in the track, a noise coming from the dashboard, warning lights coming on, the radio not working, the seat cover peeling off, and the seat not being able to cool. 


The last category of NHTSA complaints focused on the steering, with the vehicle drifting and issues with the electric power assist system. Users state that there is lots of play with the steering wheel, they hear sharp clicking noise when turning, the steering wheel shakes when accelerating, and the steering wheel noise gets especially loud when going over bumps. 

2017 Hyundai Santa Fe Problems 


The last year that had a “high” number of complaints was the 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe. between 2014-2016 model years, there were very few complaints in comparison to the 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe. for the 2017 model year, the highest number of user complaints was in regards to the transmission, while the highest number of NHTSA complaints focused on the engine and the drivetrain.


The user concerns regarding the transmission focused on the hesitation, the poor shifting while in cruise control, the rough shifting of the transmission, and the transmission slipping. To fix the hesitation in the transmission, users generally say this occurs at a very low mileage of just 1,000 miles, and that the vehicle responds very poorly when driving at fast speeds.


The NHTSA complaints regarding the engine are mainly about the engine and vehicle speed control, with these issues occurring at just 16,000 miles on average and causing one fire. Users state that there is bad hesitation when stepping on the gas pedal, the oil light begins flickering on and off, metallic debris leaks in the oil, and the oil can leak and cause engine noise. 


The drivetrain concerns that the NHTSA was focused on revolve around the powertrain, with users stating that the car hesitates while merging, the car hesitates when speeding up after a turn, the car can go into limp mode, the vehicle decelerates unintentionally, and the car can jerk while accelerating. 

2020 Hyundai Santa Fe Problems & Reliability


Regarding the newest model of the Hyundai Santa Fe, the 2020 Hyundai Santa Fe, this model earned a US News score of 8.5. The scorecard showed a critics' rating of 8.8, a performance rating of 6.9, an interior rating of 8.1, and a safety rating of 9.5, with the overall coming out to an impressive 8.5.


The 2020 ranks #1 in Midsize SUVs, #3 in Crossover SUVs, and #3 in SUVs with 2 Rows, and earned a win in the category of 2020 Best 2-Row SUV for the Money and a Finalist in the category of 2020 Best 2-Row SUV for Families. 


The pros of the 2020 Hyundai Santa Fe is the comfortable ride, the great fuel economy, the stylish and comfortable interior, and the easy-to-use technological features and infotainment system. The cons and the 2020 Hyundai Santa Fe problems revolve around the underwhelming base engine, the lower performance capabilities in comparison to the competition, and the limited cargo space. 


Despite the cons, this 2020 Hyundai Santa Fe is a reliable and safe car that can produce 20-22 miles per gallon in the city, 26-29 miles per gallon on the highway, comes in four wheel drive or all wheel drive, and produces 185-235 horsepower. With a Blind View Monitor now available and the sliding second-row seats discontinued, this new 2020 model provides a reliable car that is #1 in terms of midsize SUVs. 

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