2018 Hyundai Santa Fe Problems and Top Complaints – Is Your Car A Lemon?

Lighting, fuel system, steering and engine issues among the top complaints received by the NHTSA from vehicle owners

This article was written by Brian Jones, trusted ASE Certified Master Tech and Lemberg Law Expert Automotive Contributor

In the world of compact SUVs, the 2018 Hyundai Santa Fe gained a lot of popularity with modern American families. Unfortunately, part of the notoriety came from numerous defects. While the new models state that “Safety Comes Standard,” we can’t agree with this. Instead, it’s clear that this Hyundai SUV suffers from a defective engine, malfunctioning fuel system and poor powertrain, all of which put occupants in danger.

Click on other model year to view more problems:  2017   2020

Don’t be stuck with a lemon. You have legal rights to cash, return or buyback.

The law makes Hyundai pay legal fees.

We've fixed thousands of lemon problems. Message or call 877-795-3666 today.

Problems with the Engine

It’s not fun to drive a new vehicle with an underperforming engine, but that’s what Santa Fe users run into once they leave the dealership.

Just look at this review from the NHTSA website. “I was driving on the interstate at 70 mph and the engine suddenly shut off, it has been at the Hyundai garage in Dubois, PA for 3 weeks waiting for a new engine and it is a new vehicle with only 12,600 miles.”

Why would a brand new SUV need a replacement engine? That just proves the poor manufacturing put into these Hyundai models. It turns out that there have been numerous engine issues with this Santa Fe. Even Service Bulletin #19-01-002H-4 points out trouble with severe engine damage caused by an abnormal bearing design. To watch for engine damage, the automaker added knock sensor software that alerts users to trouble. In the meantime, Hyundai has its fingers crossed that the engines won’t fail until after the warranty expires.

Here are some actual complaints logged with the NHTSA about the 2018 Hyundai Santa Fe Engine Problems:

DRIVING VEHICLE ON THE PARKWAY AT APPROXIMATELY 65 MPH, ENGINE FELT LIKE IT WAS SHUTTING DOWN, CAR STOPPED ACCELERATING, ENGINE LIGHT WAS BLINKING, SPEEDOMETER STOPPED WORKING, BLUE LINK NOTIFICATION SYSTEM ADVISED TO GET TO SERVICE TODAY. THIS OCCURRED ONE WEEK AFTER THE CAR RECEIVED A SOFTWARE UPDATE FOR A KNOCK SENSOR RECALL. CAR HAS BEEN IN SERVICE SINCE 3/9/19; DEALERSHIP REPLACED WIRING HARNESS PER HYUNDAI’S RECOMMENDATION, WHEN THEY TEST DROVE THE VEHICLE, THE ISSUE HAS NOT RESOLVED. THEY ARE WAITING FOR HYUNDAI TO ADVISE OF NEXT STEPS. I DO NOT FEEL SAFE EVER GETTING BACK IN THIS VEHICLE DUE TO ALL OF THE CURRENT ISSUES SURROUNDING HYUNDAI ENGINES, INCLUDING FIRES

TWO BLOWN ENGINES UNDER 30,000 MILES, HYUNDAI ADMITS THE PROBLEM TO US AND NOT SURE WHY OTHERS ARE HAVING ISSUE. RECEIVED RENTAL CAR BOTH TIMES.

WENT TO DINNER WITH MY HUSBAND 2/28/2019. THE CHECK ENGINE LIGHT STARTED FLASHING. THE CAR BEGAN TO BUCK AND HESITATED. WE WERE GOING 35 MPH. WE GOT TO RESTAURANT, I CALLED HYUNDAI SERVICE. I WAS TOLD TO GET VEHICLE TO DEALERSHIP ASAP.MY ENGINE IS BLOWN DUE TO MANUFACTURE DEFECT. I AM BEING TOLD IT COULD BE 3-6 MONTHS OR MORE TILL HYUNDAI CAN GET A NEW ENGINE. I NEED A RELIABLE VEHICLE, HYUNDAI IS REFUSING A LOANER CAR UNTIL HYUNDAI APPROVES. I AM NOW GOING INTO MY SECOND WEEK WITH A RENTAL I CAN’T AFFORD, BECAUSE MY VEHICLE WAS USED FOR WORK PURPOSES. PLEASE HELP!!!!!!

Problems with the Fuel System

In conjunction with the engine, these vehicles must have a properly functioning fuel system in order to produce power. Again, we see numerous problems with this system.

Another NHTSA complaint states, “My car is 6 months old with 7,600 miles on it. I stopped at a red light. My car began to shake/shudder and then shut off. I had to try and restart it 4 times before it successfully restarted. This happened on a city street, thankfully right before getting on the highway.”

Hyundai doesn’t want to discuss any concerns with the fuel system. In fact, their manufacturer communications only contain Service Bulletin #19-FL-001H, which explains the difference of a gasoline direct injection engine to a conventional multi-point fuel injection. Because of these differences, the automaker wants to ensure that technicians understand how to service the motor. Not to point out the obvious, but should the techs need a bulletin from the manufacturer to understand the workings of an engine? If they do, it’s clear to see why this engine and systems are so dysfunctional.

Here are some actual complaints logged with the NHTSA about the 2018 Hyundai Santa Fe Fuel System Problems:

TL* THE CONTACT OWNS A 2018 HYUNDAI SANTA FE SPORT. WHILE DRIVING WITH A HALF TANK OF FUEL IN THE VEHICLE, IT BEGAN TO STALL ON THE HIGHWAY. THE CONTACT NOTICED FUEL COMING OUT OF THE EXHAUST AND THE VEHICLE RAN COMPLETELY OUT OF FUEL AS SHE PULLED OVER TO THE SHOULDER. THE STATE POLICE PULLED UP BEHIND HER AND ORDERED HER TO GET AWAY FROM THE VEHICLE DUE TO THE FUEL AND FUMES. THE VEHICLE WAS TOWED TO M.J. SULLIVAN HYUNDAI WHERE IT WAS DIAGNOSED THAT TWO FUEL INJECTORS WERE STUCK OPEN AND CAUSED THE VEHICLE TO STALL. THE CONTACT NOTICED A LARGE AMOUNT OF FUEL WAS IN THE OIL PAN DUE TO THE DIPSTICK. ACCORDING TO THE DEALER, THE MANUFACTURER SUGGESTED THAT THEY REPLACE THE FUEL INJECTORS, DRAIN THE OIL, AND PLACE NEW OIL IN THE ENGINE. THE DEALER STATED THAT WAS ALL THEY WOULD DO TO THE VEHICLE. THE CONTACT CALLED THE MANUFACTURER TO GET A CASE FOR A POSSIBLE BUYBACK. THE MANUFACTURER DENIED THE BUYBACK REQUEST AND OFFERED ONE MONTH CAR PAYMENT TO RESOLVE THE MATTER. THE MANUFACTURER SUGGESTED THE CONTACT REACH OUT TO THE BETTER BUSINESS BUREAU. THE DEALER REFUSED TO PROVIDE A LOANER VEHICLE. THE VEHICLE WAS RETRIEVED AND DRIVEN TO THE CONTACTS HOME. THE FAILURE MILEAGE WAS 14,210. 

CHECK ENGINE LIGHT COMES ON AND TESTING SHOWS 3RD CYLINDER HAS AS FUEL-OXYGEN IMBALANCE. HAS HAPPENED TWICE. LIGHT WENT OFF THE 2ND TIME. BRAND NEW CAR. IT HAPPENED AT 2,500 AND 5,000 MILES. HAD IT CHECKED BY HYUNDAI THE FIRST TIME AND THEY DIDN’T SEE ANY OTHER PROBLEMS, CHALKING IT UP TO A MALFUNCTION. SOMEONE TOLD ME IT COULD BE A BAD FUEL INJECTOR; BAD SENSOR; OR A MISCALIBRATION OF THE ENGINE/FUEL INJECTOR

Problems with the Transmission

The main component in a powertrain is the transmission. This, along with the other parts, help propel the SUV forward or backward on command. Yet again, it’s clear that Hyundai doesn’t know how to manufacture quality automotive parts.

This NHTSA review states, “New car with less than 400 miles. I have experienced 7 episodes during the month of January, where the car fails to accelerate when turning onto a city street. This has happened with both right or left turns to enter traffic from a stop sign. It is just unresponsive for 1-2 seconds then engages with a bit of a jerk. Very frightening! I’ve had a feeling of panic not knowing if the car will move forward as traffic is approaching. Took to dealership where they checked for DTCs and computer updates. Since the problem is unpredictably intermittent, the road test did not replicate the problem, and they returned the car saying it ‘drives as designed.’ There is definitely a safety issue that should be resolved before releasing the car. I have lost confidence in the car had hoped would be safe and problem free.”

While this issue itself isn’t discussed in the bulletins, #19-AT-012H does talk about other transmission issues. It appears that the transaxle requires repair in some vehicles because of the clutch slipping. If safety is standard on this model, then it would drive adequately and not put owners in danger. Instead, this SUV chooses to sit at stop signs and garnish unwanted attention.

Here are some actual complaints logged with the NHTSA about the 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe Engine Problems:

TL* THE CONTACT OWNS A 2018 HYUNDAI SANTA FE. WHILE DRIVING 40 MPH, THE VEHICLE HESITATED AND WOULD NOT ACCELERATE WHEN THE ACCELERATOR PEDAL WAS DEPRESSED. THERE WERE NO WARNING INDICATORS ILLUMINATED. THE VEHICLE WAS NOT TAKEN TO A DEALER TO BE DIAGNOSED OR REPAIRED. THE MANUFACTURER WAS NOT NOTIFIED OF THE FAILURE. THE FAILURE MILEAGE WAS APPROXIMATELY 6,000.

I WAS SLOWLY CROSSING THREE TRAFFIC LANES AND TURNING LEFT. NO ONE WAS COMING FROM THE RIGHT, SO I APPLIED THE THROTTLE IN THE INSIDE LANE AND NOTHING HAPPENED. THE CAR STALLED WITHOUT WARNING. IT LEFT ME IN THE ROAD AND I WAS T-BONED IN THE DRIVER’S DOOR. THE OTHER DRIVER WAS INJURED, AND I HAVE HAD NECK ISSUES. WE COULD HAVE BOTH BEEN KILLED.

Problems with the Steering

When the 2018 Hyundai Santa Fe is actually driving, there are other issues with the steering system.

One NHTSA user stated, “When driving the vehicle on the highway at speeds higher than 60 mph, the steering wheel seems to stick in one position and jerk when you try to adjust the steering in the slightest.”

While inability to steer is scary, what’s more alarming is the recall labeled with NHTSA Campaign Number 18V118000. In this documentation, Hyundai admits that the steering wheel can detach from the steering column. This leads to a loss of vehicle control and might cause an accident. With more than 40,000 vehicles on the road with this potential defect, there’s a lot to be worried about. Unlike in the cartoons, losing a steering wheel is no joking matter.

Here are some actual complaints logged with the NHTSA about the 2018 Hyundai Santa Fe Steering Problems:

WE LEASED THIS NEW VEHICLE ON APRIL 21ST 2018. AT THE TIME, WE DID NOT KNOW IT HAD AN OPEN RECALL FOR A FAULTY AND DANGEROUS STEERING WHEEL/COLUMN CONNECTION. WE WERE FINALLY NOTIFIED BY THE DEALERSHIP 2 DAYS AFTER THE SALE  THEY TOLD US THAT THEY THEMSELVES WERE JUST NOTIFIED OF THE RECALL, BUT THROUGH A SEARCH I LOCATED ARTICLES SHOWING THAT HYUNDAI MOTORS BEGAN NOTIFYING CUSTOMERS ON MARCH 16TH, 2018, OVER A MONTH EARLIER. MY WIFE AND TWO CHILDREN WERE ALLOWED TO DRIVE OFF THE LOT IN THIS VEHICLE, WHICH COULD UNKNOWINGLY EXPERIENCE A SEPARATION OF THE STEERING WHEEL FROM THE STEERING COLUMN WHILE BEING DRIVEN. WE WOULD NOT HAVE LEASED THIS VEHICLE IF WE HAD KNOWN ABOUT THE RECALL AND BECAUSE THEY LIED, STATING THAT THEY HAD JUST GOTTEN NOTICE OF THE RECALL.

VERY LOSE STEERING AND THERE IS A MANUFACTURE RECALL ON THOUSANDS OF THESE VEHICLES FROM THE STEERING WHEEL ACTUALLY SEPARATING FROM THE STEERING COLUMN ITSELF. VERY HARD TO DRIVE WITHOUT SWERVING.

Problems with the Headlights

What is the purpose of exterior lighting? It’s more valuable than just to create a unique look to a vehicle but also meant for maximum safety, which Hyundai claims to care about.

Yet, this NHTSA complaint shows a different picture. “Both of the headlights and fog lights are getting foggy two days after I got the car from the dealer. Replaced with new ones and still getting foggy.”

It’s become evident that this model is defective right off in the lot, in numerous ways. The lighting is just the cherry on the top that drives owners over the edge. Of course, Hyundai doesn’t want to discuss this situation and has kept it relatively quiet. Still, Hyundai owners recognize their own in oncoming traffic by the foggy lights in the front.

Here are some actual complaints logged with the NHTSA about the 2018 Hyundai Santa Fe Headlights Problems:

LED HEADLIGHTS PARTICULARLY ON UNLIGHTED ROADS PRESENT A DARKEN SHADOW ON THE TOP HALF OF THE WINDSHIELD WHILE CAR IS IN MOTION. NARROWING VIEW IS A SAFETY HAZARD AS ONE IS UNABLE TO SEE APPROACHING TRAFFIC OR PEDESTRIANS. DEALERSHIP AND HYUNDAI CUSTOMER SUPPORT STATED THAT HEADLIGHTS MEET SPECS. SERVICE MANAGER DROVE CAR AT NIGHT AND TOLD ME THAT HE SEES THE ISSUE BUT HAS NO FIX. HYUNDAI CUSTOMER SUPPORT SAID IT WAS NOT A WARRANTY ISSUE, BUT A DESIGN ISSUE AND I COULD MODIFY THE HEADLIGHTS AT MY EXPENSE AND BREAK THE WARRANTY. I WILL ATTACH A PICTURE AND CAN BRING THE VEHICLE TO AN INDEPENDENT AGENT TO VALIDATE.

LOW BEAM HEADLIGHTS HAVE A DARK SPOT APPROX. 100 FEET IN FRONT OF THE VEHICLE IN THE LEFT HAND LANE. HYUNDAI SAYS IT IS DESIGNED THAT WAY TO PREVENT GLARE WITH THE HID LIGHTS THE VEHICLE HAS. IT IS HARD TO SEE MUCH IN THE LEFT LANE WHEN DRIVING. THE ATTACHED PHOTO SHOWS THE DARK SPOT ON THE LEFT SIDE OF CENTER. IT HAS BEEN THAT WAY SINCE I FIRST DROVE THE CAR AT NIGHT. I THINK IT IS A DEFINITE SAFETY ISSUE.

Problems with the Vehicle Speed Control

The vehicle speed control is necessary to ensure drivers operate their vehicle at the desired pace. When the speed begins to malfunction, it’s anyone’s guess what will happen next.

One NHTSA complaint talks about this problem by saying, “Vehicle has no acceleration after a stop. When taking off from a stop sign or stop light, the vehicle does not respond when stepping on the gas pedal putting our lives in danger of a collision. Seems to happen when switching from ECO to Normal mode. It has happened multiple times in the short month I have owned it. No indicator lights or visual items to prove it. It just does not accelerate. I have to turn car off and back on to get it to kick in.”

Again, there’s nothing for the Hyundai executives regarding trouble with the speeds. Instead, they continue to give off the persona that safety is important to the company, but we can clearly see that’s not the case. Steering wheels falling off, foggy lights and defective critical parts reveal the complete opposite. Maybe the tagline should be “Safety Concerns Come Standard.”

Here are some actual complaints logged with the NHTSA about the 2018 Hyundai Santa Fe Vehicle Speed Control Problems:

SLOW TO ACCELERATED I HAVE TO RE PRESS THE PEDAL JUST TO TRY AN SPEED UP ON THE HIGHWAY IM GETTING HONKED AT TRYING TO GO UP HILLS I HAVE TO PRESS IT TO THE FLOOR TO GO UP HILLS AN IT IDLES OUT AN ITS VERY DANGEROUS TO DRIVE ON THE FREEWAY I CANT GO PAST 50 MPH AN I USE SPORT MODE ITS DOSNT HELP IT THIS SHOULD BE A RECALL IN ALL THE HYUNDAI CARS .

DRIVING 60 MPH W/CRUSE ON GOING DOWN A HILL ENGINE RPM’S SUDDENLY JUMP FROM 2000 TO ANYWHERE FROM 3000 TO 5000 RPM’S AND THE ONLY WAY TO STOP ENGINE RACING IS TO TAP THE BRAKES TO DISENGAGE CRUSE. ALSO VEHICLE WILL NOT SPEED UP WHEN TURNING A CORNER,LIKE THE TRANSMISSION DOESN’T DOWN SHIFT.THESE BOTH HAPPEN ALL THE TIME.VEHICLE HAS LESS THAN 800 MILES.

Your Lemon Law Legal Rights

Think you have a lemon? Sit back and let the experts work aid your lemon at no cost to you. The law makes Hyundai pay legal fees. You may be able to get your lemon out of your life. Every year, auto manufacturers buy back, replace or pay cash settlements to thousands of ‘lemon’ owners like you.

Who are we? We are Lemberg Law, a Consumer Law Firm

Lemberg Law is a consumer law firm helping victims of bad manufacturing and run-arounds from auto companies. We are ranked A+ by the BBB. Call our Helpline today!  There is no charge unless we win.


Share your story

Does this ring a bell? Have you had a bad experience too? Sound off and share your experience with other visitors in the comment box below.

BE THE FIRST TO COMMENT

Leave a Reply or Comment

Write a comment below to share online. Or, instead you can to our legal team.
Email is required to block spam, but will not be published.

Please select your star rating.

Briefly describe your experience Briefly describe your experience

What’s your name? What’s your name?

What’s your phone number? Please enter a valid phone number

Want to know if you could sue? Get free legal evaluation Lemberg Law?

Get Your No-Obligation
Case Evaluation

Send a secure message to our legal team.

What’s your name? What’s your name?
What’s your email address? What’s your email address?
What’s your phone number? What’s your phone number?
Briefly describe the problem Briefly describe the problem
Confidentiality Guarantee: We keep your information completely confidential and will not send you spam or sell your information.