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Hyundai Elantra Reliability and Common Problems

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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 51% 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.

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.

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.

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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