The Hyundai Santa Fe is consistently near the top of many midsize SUV reliability rankings. Like other vehicles under the Hyundai nameplate, the Santa Fe is a reliable car that doesn’t cost much to maintain. While its value tends to depreciate by 58% after five years according to CarEdge.com, the Hyundai Santa Fe remains the SUV of choice for many.
Is the Hyundai Santa Fe a Reliable Car?
Aside from a couple of model years with relatively expensive mishaps, the Hyundai Santa Fe consistently ranks among the top five most reliable vehicles of its class. In fact, RepairPal has given Santa Fe a reliability rating of 4.0 out of 5.0, making it the second most reliable midsize SUVs out of 26 models, just behind the Mazda CX-5.
On average, Hyundai Santa Fe repair and maintenance costs $515 per year, which is lower than the average ownership cost of other SUVs ($573) and other vehicle models ($652). Also, the average frequency and severity of repairs is lower than other vehicles, making the Santa Fe one of the most reliable vehicles on the road.
Your Santa Fe can easily last up to 200,000 miles if you follow your service schedule and do regular maintenance.
Top Hyundai Santa Fe Problems
Most Santa Fe model years don’t have a lot of major problems. However, there are a couple of model years that do have serious and rather expensive issues that you might want to know more about before making a purchase. Some of these are listed below:
Many owners of the 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe have reported transmission issues, particularly hesitation. Most owners say that they’ve encountered this issue at around 1,000 miles. Many of the reports say that the issue gets worse as the SUV comes out of turns or tries to accelerate. Some even say that the hesitation is more pronounced in ECO mode, but is still noticeable in other driving modes. This 2017 model issue is dangerous, particularly when the driver is pulling into traffic or when coming out of a rolling stop.
No Sound from Speakers
Another widespread Hyundai Santa Fe issue is faulty speakers. Affected model years include 2008-2009 and 2011 to 2017. Owners have claimed to have encountered the issue at approximately 50,000 miles. Models equipped with navigation units may suddenly stop playing audio from all speakers, including the sound from CD players, navigation, telephone calls, as well as satellite and normal radio. Other features seem to function properly despite this issue. In order to resolve this issue, a software hard reset is needed. This involves disconnecting the vehicle’s negative battery terminal and waiting 15 minutes before reconnecting.
Engine Stalling/Shutting Down While Driving (Crankshaft Position Sensor Issues)
The most likely cause of engine stalling on several units of the 2014 Hyundai Santa Fe is a faulty crankshaft position sensor. Many owners have complained that their vehicle would suddenly stop at highway speeds, which is a highly dangerous situation to be in, especially on the freeway. Others also experienced lurching or being unable to go over 10 miles per hour. An aftermarket crankshaft position sensor replacement for the Hyundai Santa Fe typically costs less than $100 plus shipping. While Hyundai has already released a technical service bulletin (TSB) last October 2019 to address the issue, many 2014 Santa Fe owners have claimed that Hyundai has yet to do more about this problem.
Another problem with the 2014 Hyundai Santa Fe is its stuttering transmission. While this isn’t the most serious issue that Santa Fe models have, it’s certainly among the list of problems its third generation is particularly known for. This particular issue is present both in front-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive Santa Fe models from 2001 to 2014. The vehicle is said to shudder when the gears shift from second to third. A lot of owners have also said that this issue typically happens when they were first driving the vehicle, and not when it has warmed up. Some also claim that their SUV jerked as they changed the gears from park to drive.
Among the issues plaguing the Hyundai Santa Fe, engine problems seem to be the most expensive and most difficult to address. Both the 2012 and 2013 model years of the Hyundai Santa Fe had major engine issues that required engine replacement at only approximately 80,000 miles. According to many Hyundai Santa Fe owners, the engines on their SUVs would suddenly stop without warning at highway speeds, causing them to be stranded in the middle of busy streets and freeways.
The issue was so dangerous and widespread that a class action lawsuit was even filed by owners despite recalls. In fact, Hyundai released a two-page statement in August 2014 claiming that the engine failure only occurred under very specific circumstances, contrary to the class-action lawsuit’s claims that the stalling and engine failure happened at any time and under any condition. This issue had an average repair cost of around $3000 to $5000.
Air Bag Issues
The Hyundai Santa Fe is also known for its airbag issues. The airbag lights on the 2003-2006 and 2010 model years are known to illuminate irregularly. A recall was issued for thousands of units of the 2007-2009 model years to address a similar issue. This recall involved updating software on the airbag computers to address deployment issues and to prevent the airbags from accidentally deploying, especially when a child car seat has been placed in the passenger front seat.
Paint Issues/Paint Coming Off
Some Santa Fe models, including the 2009 and 2004 year models, have significant paint issues. The average cost of repairs or repainting for this issue is around $2800. Owners are said to have encountered this problem at around 70,000 to 90,000 miles. The severity of this issue ranges from mild chipping to very obvious flaking. According to some owners, the paint on their Santa Fes peeled on almost all visible surfaces, including the hood, rear windows, and doors.
Fuel Level Sensor and Gauge Malfunction/Failure
Both the 2008 and the 2007 Santa Fe year models have similar issues with their fuel systems. For both model years, the major issue is a faulty fuel level sensor. This is a pretty severe problem that cost many owners an average of $500 to fix. Owners of the 2008 Santa Fe have reported that they’ve experienced this issue at around 85,000 miles. Meanwhile, 2007 Hyundai Santa Fe owners encountered this issue at around 100,000 miles.
In many instances, the faulty fuel level sensor caused the check engine light to come on and the fuel gauge to show an inaccurate level of fuel. Because the fuel gauge never showed the actual fuel level, some owners claimed to have suddenly run out of gas in the middle of the highway, putting them in very dangerous situations. Replacing the fuel level sensors and gaskets seems to be the most effective repair for this issue. Aftermarket fuel level sensor replacements can cost you $70 to $80.
Knowing the most common Hyundai Santa Fe problems can help you make an informed decision on which model year to purchase. Remember to research the most common issues for the model year you plan on buying and make sure that you’re buying from a reputable seller before you seal the deal.