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Summary
  • The Hyundai Elantra is an efficient and reliable compact sedan. RepairPal gave it an outstanding score of 4.5 out of 5.0.
  • While the Elantra is reliable, it still has some issues like defective airbags, rough-running engines, poor-quality coil springs, and faulty brake boosters.
  • The Elantra doesn’t really have bad year models that you should avoid, but you should still do your own research.

The Hyundai Elantra is a decent car that gets better with every new generation. While the newest models have the best features, an older Elantra can also be a good buy with proper care and maintenance. The Elantra has an average resale value, and CarEdge.com reports that one in good condition will depreciate by 22% after five years.

Are Hyundai Elantras Reliable Cars?

The Hyundai Elantra earned good scores on all major reliability ratings. RepairPal gives the Elantra a score of 4.5 out of 5.0, ranking it 8th out of 36 compact car models. While the earliest generations showed average fuel economy, the later model years grew more fuel efficient with each new generation.

2021 hyundai elantra silver
The Hyundai Elantra has earned good scores on all major reliability ratings. Image Source: Hyundai

There’s at least one 2013 Hyundai Elantra that clocked a million miles in the span of five years. Hyundai says the car is still using its factory-issue powertrain and offers to give a new Elantra to anyone else who hits that milestone. While you probably won’t push your Elantra to such extremes, you’ll be glad to know your car can reach 200,000 or even 300,000 miles if you stick to your service schedule and perform maintenance.

See also  Hyundai Recalls Over 420,000 Elantras for Engine Fire Risk

Top Hyundai Elantra Problems

Although the Hyundai Elantra is generally reliable, it isn’t perfect and can develop problems that may vary between the model year. Below are the most commonly reported problems for various Elantra models:

Defective Airbags

CarProblemZoo counted more than 1,130 separate problems related to airbags since the Elantra debuted in 1996.

The most frequently reported problem involves the airbag warning light switching on and off without reason. It’s easy to think that the rest of the airbags may not work properly when your safety and life depends on them. Other airbag problems include failure to deploy during crashes, malfunctioning front airbag sensor controls, and issues with the inflator.

2008 hyundai elantra airbags
It’s easy to think that the rest of the airbags may not work properly when your safety and life depends on them. Image Source: Hyundai.

Serious airbag issues led to two separate recalls for the Hyundai Elantra. A faulty front seat weight sensor can accidentally deploy the airbags in the 2006-2008 model years. Meanwhile, the excessive pressure inside the airbags of the 2006 and 2007 models could cause them to deploy by accident.

Finally, the Takata airbag recall included some Elantra models. Faulty Takata airbags could burst or deploy too slowly. Either way, they can put the driver in danger.

Engine Issues

The 2013 Hyundai Elantra is arguably the worst model year for this sedan. Going by the reports gathered by CarComplaints.com, many of its problems pertain to its engine. 2013 Elantra owners have complained about ticking noises and the engine failing outright. They also reported that the engine may run roughly, shake, vibrate, or stall while driving.

See also  Hyundai Confirms Elantra N Arrival

These engine problems weren’t just common in the 2013 Elantra. The earlier 2011-2012 model years may also develop similar issues.

The Hyundai Elantra’s engine may also catch fire. An electrical short in the ABS module can lead to a “key-off” fire in the engine compartment. In February 2020, Hyundai recalled more than 430,000 Elantras made between 2006 and 2011 with this problem.

Steering Problems

CarProblemZoo lists more than 530 complaints about Hyundai Elantra steering problems. Frequent issues include the electronic power steering locking up while on cruise control or at highway speeds and knocking caused by a faulty steering coupler when making turns.

In 2017, Hyundai issued a recall for a small number of Hyundai Elantras with Electronic Power Steering (EPS). The affected units had a faulty EPS connector that could cause the power steering to shut down because of lack of power.

Faulty Electrical System

Like most vehicles, the Hyundai Elantra can develop various problems involving its electrical system. Because so many parts rely on a steady supply of power, the list of possible electrical problems is extensive. Common problems include malfunctioning car alarms and problematic ignition systems.

Many of these issues are caused by wiring problems. Old or damaged wires can prevent the engine from starting because the ignition doesn’t get enough power. You should always have your vehicle checked for any worn-out or faulty wires that need replacement.

See also  Hyundai Confirms Elantra N Arrival

Service Brake Problems

Hyundai issued a recall in 2017 for more than 33,000 Hyundai Elantras built in that same year.

According to the NHTSA, a manufacturing issue dislodged the diaphragm in the affected vehicles’ brake booster. This produced a vacuum leak that reduced the effectiveness of the power brake assist. In the worst-case scenario, the power brake assist wouldn’t work.

A bad brake booster could reduce the Elantra’s braking power. It increases the distance required for the car to come to a stop, which can lead to an accident if the driver fails to apply the brakes on time.

The 2013 Hyundai Elantra has also experienced recurring problems with its brakes. Many drivers complained about grinding noises while braking. The problem was traced to faulty brake pads and rotors.

Suspension Problems

Corrosion also posed a threat to the Hyundai Elantra’s suspension parts. In 2015, Hyundai issued a recall for certain 2011 Hyundai Elantra units. The affected vehicles’ front coil springs were vulnerable to corrosion caused by exposure to road salt. A rusty coil spring could fracture and puncture the nearby tire, putting the vehicle’s safety at risk.

Buying a new or used Hyundai Elantra should be a good idea as long as you research the common problems for each model year. And if you already drive this car, knowing these issues beforehand can help you find ways to extend your car’s service life.

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About The Authors
Written By Automotive and Tech Writers

The CarParts.com Research Team is composed of experienced automotive and tech writers working with (ASE)-certified automobile technicians and automotive journalists to bring up-to-date, helpful information to car owners in the US. Guided by CarParts.com's thorough editorial process, our team strives to produce guides and resources DIYers and casual car owners can trust.

Reviewed By Automotive Features Reviewer at CarParts.com

Lisa Conant grew up in Canada around a solid contingency of gear heads and DIY motor enthusiasts. She is an eclectic writer with a varied repertoire in the automotive industry, including research pieces with a focus on daily drivers and recreational vehicles. Lisa has written for Car Bibles and The Drive.

Any information provided on this Website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace consultation with a professional mechanic. The accuracy and timeliness of the information may change from the time of publication.

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Michael Dingus

2013 Elantra has an occasional miss/hesitation on start up for a few seconds, and if you stop while in drive, but not in neutral,. Changed plugs, had coils checked, changed fuel cap (it was not latching, and was loose). Anyone have an iea what could cause this?

Peter S Washington State

Replacing the coils is almost a sure bet to stop a rough idle. We have a 2013 Elantra GT with 85500 miles. We got new plugs, injection cleaner done by professional, and 1 week later it started running rough at idle again. I bought a set of coils from Auto Zone and installed them myself.(Takes about 20 minutes-watch a YouTube video-very easy) Car runs like brand new with a set of new coils. We bought the set with a life time guarantee and they were cheap. Dealer wanted close to $400. Auto Zone set was $135.

Martharur

I have to take battery cable off so head lights and brake lights go off if can help tell me what’s wrong

Peter S Washington State

You need to do a search on recalls for your cars year and model by entering the VIN. Hyundai Elantra had a brake pedal issue that made the brake lights stay on all the time.

David Saylor

We had the same problem. Ended up being the abs sensor was sticking and keeping the brakes locked up. Replaced the ABS sensor and solved that problem. Then on the way home noticed that the brake lights wouldn’t go off. Took it back to the shop and they found out that the whole problem started with the rubber grommet where the wire for the sensor went through the metal bracket had disintegrated and the wire had been rubbing and finally was shorting out the ABS system. Replaced it with a new rubber grommet and all of it was solved. Literally a $1.69 part caused all of that. Thankfully the mechanic figured out the ABS sensor had shorted out and fixed it in a parking lot so we didn’t have a $150 tow bill. Reading up on it after the fact it seems like this is a known issue to a lot of mechanics. So if you have no brake lights and the bulbs are good, or you have brake lights that stay on all the time have them check that ABS sensor AND make sure they put a new grommet in as well.

Theodore Williams Obotetukudo

I have an Elantra SR that I bought last year February and the engine packed up last week Thursday 8th of December, 2022. The car is under 70000 on the mileage and has a 5year warranty or 100000 milage on it. I seriously need help please. What can I do?

Linda K

My Hyundai Elantra GT is a 2013 I have never had a problem with it. I finally had to do brakes last fall and had my snow tires put on, my original tires were done and I will need new all seasonal tires this spring. It has great gas mileage. I have only 70,00 KL on her. Great car.

Shelly Higgins

I have a 2023 Hyundai Elantra and I love it no problem at all

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