Which Hyundai Santa FE Years To Avoid and Why? (Explained)

Korean renowned automaker Hyundai first introduced its Santa FE midsize vehicle series in 2001. Although the Santa FE series was initially released compact crossover, soon Hyundai upgraded the models and came up as midsize vehicles. Most Hyundai Santa FE models got 4 or 5 out of 5 ratings for reliability based on consumer reviews reports.

Unfortunately, some Hyundai Santa FE models released in particular years failed to meet the reliability standard, and you should avoid considering them.

Read this following article to learn which year’s Hyundai Santa FE models are the most problematic, their most common problems, and which year’s Santa FE models are relatively safer.

Hyundai Santa FE Years to Avoid (List of Years)

Hyundai made sure to design and develop its Santa FE series to become a trustworthy midsize SUV lineup within an affordable price range. Still, the brand slightly failed to maintain the durability and reliability standard in all of its released years’ models.

As a result, some Santa FE vehicle models became less appealing due to their contained minor yet notable flaws or defects.

Remember to avoid the following Hyundai Santa FE years –

  • 2004 Hyundai Santa FE: Paint wear, engine runs rough, check engine light keeps illuminating, significant power loss or no acceleration, fuel system failure, and transmission problem.
  • 2007 Hyundai Santa FE: Fuel gauge fails to read accurately, transmission failure, fuel gauge not working or responding properly, engine problems, electrical system or connection error, and body or paint problem.
  • 2008 Hyundai Santa FE: Failed fuel level sensor, fuel gauge not operating properly, paint peeling off, faulty A/C or heater, and brakes problem.
  • 2009 Hyundai Santa FE: Paint tends to peel or come off, engine stalls or abruptly dies while driving, faulty fuel gauge sensor, transmission problem, and wheels or hubs problem.
  • 2010 Hyundai Santa FE: Engine tends to stall or shut off while driving, failed or dead engine, spring breaks during driving, transmission system problem, and body or paint problem.
  • 2011 Hyundai Santa FE: vehicle stalls, clunking noise comes while starting up, excess oil consumption, drivetrain, and lights problem.
  • 2012 Hyundai Santa FE: Engine stalls or shuts down while driving, premature stock tire wear or engine failure, electrical system malfunction, and A/C or heater problem.
  • 2013 Hyundai Santa FE: Violently jerks during acceleration, tend to drift, complete engine failure, A/C or heater malfunctioning, poor steering, electrical system error, window or windshield failure, and drivetrain problem.
  • 2014 Hyundai Santa FE: Blown up vehicle’s engine, engine stalls or shuts down while operating, rodents chew the wiring harness, brakes, and fuel system problem.
  • 2017 Hyundai Santa FE: Visible hesitation, not accelerating properly during turning or significant power loss during acceleration, faulty steering, engine, and drivetrain problem.

According to the What Santa Fe Owners Complain About, the most problematic years of Hyundai Santa FE models are 2007, 2008, 2009, 2012, 2013, and 2014.

What Makes These Hyundai Santa FE Years’ Worth Avoiding? 

Based on the Hyundai Santa Fe Reliability Problems report, the Santa FE series has some most common troubleshooting errors or problems, and in this section, I would like to discuss those common problems elaborately-

1. Hyundai Santa FE Engine Problem:

According to the website report, one of the most common against Santa FE models is several engine-related issues that arise while owning and using them.

Engine problems mostly occur in Hyundai Santa’s 2004, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011-14, and 2017 released models.

Based on consumer complaint reports, most of the Hyundai Santa FE car’s engine issues are minor, but problems are slightly serious with its 2007, 2009, 2011, and 2012 models.

Consumers have claimed to encounter symptoms, such as engine stalling or abruptly dying while driving, check engine light malfunctioning or continuous illuminating, lagging when engine starting up, clunking noise during vehicle start-up, hesitation on acceleration, and excess oil consumption.

According to the carcomplaints.com website, consumers have also reported problems like emission failure, engine mount and gasket seem to need replacement quicker than expected, significant engine power loss, and visible oil leaks.

2. Santa FE Fuel System Problem:

It’s another typical issue that most Santa FE consumers mentioned in the forums.

Consumers claimed to encounter symptoms such as fuel gauge not responding or reading correctly, check engine light keeps illuminating, hard start even after filling the vehicle fuel tank, or the pumps shut down while filling the fuel tank.

Some users reported other issues like gas cap cover sticks, fuel level sensor not working, gas opener failing, or fumes odor.

These troubleshooting issues mostly occur with Santa’s 2004, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2014, and 2017 models. But 2007, 2008, and 2009 Santa FE models’ fuel problems are slightly more troublesome than its other released years.

3. Defective Interior Accessories:

Another common complaint that consumers often report is defective interior accessories or components of some Hyundai Santa FE models.

This problem occurs commonly in Hyundai Santa’s 2007-14 and 2017 released models, but things got a little serious with 2007, 2009, 2013, and 2014 models.

WVDOT automotive website’s What Are The Best And Worst Years For The Hyundai Santa Fe? article claims various interior accessories-related issues arise with several Santa FE models.

Especially, faulty airbags were commonly reported against early models of this series, where users mentioned that their airbag light tended to illuminate erratically or irregularly, and occasionally, vehicle speakers stop working after reaching 50,000 miles of operation.

Besides that, carcomplaints.com reports symptoms such as fuel gauge failure, broken or defective sun visor, door locks not working or failing to engage manually, dashboard rattles or suddenly catching on fire, and Horn, DVD TV, or CD player won’t work properly.

4. Body Or Paint Problem:

Although none of the complaint reports claim any serious body or paint problem that occurred with any Santa FE model, there are still notable minor issues that consumers should be aware of before considering.

The carcomplaints.com reports consumers encountering issues such as paint peeling or coming off, doors failing to lineup or fit properly, paint wear or fades, tailgate latch not opening, and failed trim.

These symptoms mostly arise in Hyundai Santa’s 2004, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2012, and 2013, but issues are noteworthy in its 2004, 2009, and 2013 released years.

Which Hyundai Santa FE Years are Safe to Buy Used? 

According to the HYUNDAI SANTA FE MODEL YEAR COMPARISON detailed graphical presentation and report published on CarComplaints.com, the following mentioned years are the safest choices for purchasing a used Hyundai Santa FE vehicle-  

  • 2001 -2003 Hyundai Santa FE
  • 2005 -2006 Hyundai Santa FE
  • 2016 Hyundai Santa FE
  • 2018 Hyundai Santa FE
  • 2019 -2020 Hyundai Santa FE

However, if you are interested in purchasing a new Santa FE instead of a used one, this What’s The Difference Between The Hyundai Santa Fe and The Tucson? article written by Kern Campbell claims that the 2021 Hyundai Santa FE is an incredible family SUV to consider.


If you are looking for a budget-friendly used midsize SUV, then the Hyundai Santa FE series is a decent and reliable choice based on consumer review reports. But some of its released years are too problematic to consider.

Therefore, avoid those troublesome years mentioned in today’s article unless you wish to deal with such unpleasant experiences.

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