The Hyundai Sonata is one of the most reliable cars you could ever drive. Aside from having great gas mileage, it is also reported to need fewer repairs than most makes and models, making it one of the easiest and most economical vehicles to maintain.
Are Hyundai Sonatas Reliable?
The Hyundai Sonata received a reliability rating of 4.0 out of 5.0 from RepairPal, ranking it fifth out of 24 midsize cars. Compared to other makes and models, annual repair and maintenance costs for the Sonata were below average, only amounting to less than $500, while its competitors’ fees averaged $600 plus labor costs.
Top Hyundai Sonata Problems
Even a vehicle as reliable as the Hyundai Sonata is bound to have its fair share of parts and drivability issues. Listed below are the most reported problems for different model years:
Hyundai recalled certain Sonata models in 2017 due to a seatbelt linkage that’s not properly connected to the pretensioner. The detached linkage may not be able to restrain the passenger during a collision and other road accidents, increasing the risk of injury.
Hyundai recalled 2011-2014 Sonatas to install external wire filter kits to address this issue. In 2018, the same model years, excluding the 2014 redesign, were recalled once again due to disabled frontal airbags, side airbags, and seatbelt pretensioner. The automaker installed a warning label on the affected vehicles to prevent future detachment.
Engine failure in 2011, 2012, and 2013 Hyundai Sonatas was a commonly reported problem as well. Many drivers complained that their engines seized up after hearing knocking noises upon acceleration, which eventually led to a loss of power, brakes, and steering.
This issue led to a class action lawsuit against Hyundai where the automaker paid a settlement fee of $8.5 million in 2016. The settlement covered engine repair and replacement, towing expenses, and rental fees of the replacement cars for the owners of affected 2011-2014 Sonatas with 2.0- or 2.4-liter Theta II engines.
Hyundai also doubled the warranties on new and pre-owned Sonatas from five to ten years with 60,000 to 120,000 miles. Meanwhile, class members whose Sonatas had more than 120,000 miles were given three months to bring in their vehicles for any kind of repair.
Many owners of the 2012 Hyundai Sonata had problems shifting their gears due to a faulty speed sensor. This caused their vehicles to grind, shudder, and produce clunking noises when shifting from park to drive.
Some owners even reported having no gear selection display on the dashboard or gear shift. Fortunately, a high-quality replacement speed sensor is not that expensive. The part generally costs around $30 to over $50, depending on the type and configuration.
Another issue found in Hyundai Sonatas were defective speakers. Some 2011-2016 redesigns required a hard reset to fix a software glitch that’s preventing the CD player, radio, navigation, satellite radio, and telephone calls from producing audio. It involved disconnecting and reconnecting the negative battery terminal after 15 minutes.
The parking lights in some 2003-2015 Sonatas remained illuminated even when the engine was deactivated, which led to a drained battery. While this issue is commonly associated with a faulty fuse box, it may also be caused by a worn-out rubber grommet on the brake pedal that’s not connected to the brake light switch.
For the 2013 Hyundai Sonata, common problems associated with its lighting system are burnt-out brake lights. Many owners of the 2013 redesign reported having to replace the wiring harness more frequently than usual, as the lights kept burning out at an alarming rate.
Replacing the parking or brake light usually involves getting an entire tail light assembly. This usually costs around $50 to over $150, depending on factors like the light sources and color or finish. This range does not include labor costs.
When it comes to 2011 Hyundai Sonata problems, steering issues are among the most widely reported. The most common complaint was a steering wheel that clicks and wobbles when turning due to a faulty steering wheel column coupling. There were also reports of steering knuckle failure, which created an excessive play in the steering wheel even after the affected vehicles were recalled to fix the problem.
Premature Timing Chain Tensioner and Timing Belt Failure
Old and new Sonata model years had similar issues with their timing chain tensioner, which produced rattling noises upon engine startup. Many owners also reported a broken timing belt, which damaged the crankshaft position sensor. Premature timing belt failure may occur due to excessive load, an under-tensioned belt, damaged or worn out pulleys, weak drive structure, or debris build-up in the timing pulley.
EGR Switching Valve and Accelerator Pedal Position Sensor Problems
Some older Sonata model years were reported to have rough idling, which got worse when the A/C was turned on. This problem was traced back to a defective exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) switching valve that’s producing a lean fuel-air mixture.
There were also some issues with the accelerator pedal position sensor, particularly in 2007 and 2009 Hyundai Sonata vehicles. Some drivers reported the electronic stability control (ESC) button going off automatically, causing the car to lose power or limit the acceleration to less than 20 mph.
An accelerator pedal position sensor usually fails due to damaged cables, a faulty electronic evaluation in the sensor, or insufficient voltage and ground supply. Replacing an accelerator pedal position sensor can cost anywhere between $100 and $200 plus labor costs.
Corroded Suspension Components
In 2009, Hyundai recalled certain 2001-2004 Sonatas due to corroded suspension mounting points, frames, and sub-frames, which may cause the lower control arm to detach from the sub-frame. The detachment may cause the vehicle to lose power to the drive wheels and collide with the fender or wheel well.
Like other cars, there’s no guarantee that your Sonata won’t develop problems over the years. However, by familiarizing yourself with your model’s common issues and sticking to its maintenance schedules, you can reduce the risks of damaging its components and even improve its mileage.