Electric power steering trouble (2011 Hyundai Tucson)

Since I needed a new car immediately, I only went for a short test drive before buying (would have rented one first otherwise). I was aware that nearly every reviewer had commented on the steering problem (“numb” was the commonly used description) but chalked up the truck-like driving impression I was left with after the test to merely switching from a small/sporty car to an SUV. I thought… “How bad could it be?”. Well, I found out soon enough!
I’m happy with the car in general, but long distance driving is TORTURE! When it veers off line (which is does more frequently than my previous car, likely due to more frontal area/wind resistance), IT TAKES WAY TOO MUCH STEERING EFFORT TO CORRECT!!! The days of one-finger-driving are long gone. It is no big deal on short trips around town, but out on the highway it is a constant source of annoyance that you just can’t get off your mind. I have a 60 year old Ford with no power steering that is much easier to drive at highway speeds and would rather take IT if forced to drive clear across the country, even with no cruise control, power brakes, air bags, etc.
The dealer largely ignores my complaining, and suggests I just get used to it as electric assist is here to stay due to economy considerations. I can’t afford to trade it in at this time, and am desperately hoping some kind of corrective computer chip fix will eventually appear. Can anyone out there shine some light on this problem?

This is not caused by electric power steering. I have it, and my car is fine on the freeway. Find some Tucson owner forums and see what other owners are saying.

Check the tire pressure as a first step and that’s something the dealer should have done; just in case they did not. If they didn’t bother to check the tire pressure then I would assume they’re just blowing this off.

Could there be an actual problem with the steering? Yes, it’s possible and complaints like this are generally what prompts TSBs, Recalls, investigations by the NHTSA, lawsuits, etc, etc.
As to what may be causing this problem I have no idea.

I frequently drive my friend’s Rav-4, which has electrically-assisted power steering, and I have nothing but good things to say about it. So, the OP’s assumption that the problem is electrically-assisted power steering per se, is not valid, IMHO.

However, there could be a problem with the way that Hyundai has set up the electric power steering on all Tucsons, or there could be a specific problem/bug in the OP’s individual Tucson.

My suggestion is as follows:

Take a test drive in another Tucson of the same model, and with the same engine, in order to see if it steers the same way that yours does at highway speeds. If the test vehicle steers differently (better) than the OP’s, then the OP needs to again tell the service manager at his dealership that he wants this problem resolved. If they refuse, or are unable to resolve the problem, then the OP needs to “kick it up a notch” by initiating a complaint with Hyundai at the corporate level. Contact info can be found in your Owner’s Manual.

If the test vehicle steers the same way, then perhaps this is a design defect in Tucsons. In that case, the OP should file a complaint with NHTSA, via their website. If there are enough complaints of the same nature, then it is possible for NHTSA to force a recall of these vehicles.

The OP should also begin to educate himself/herself about the Lemon Law in his/her particular state. In most cases, they get three attempts to repair a serious problem before the protection of these statutes can be applied, but this does vary somewhat from state to state. In my state, a successful Lemon Law claim gives the buyer the choice between a full refund or a replacement vehicle. In other states, only a replacement vehicle is possible.

Educate yourself!

VDC has taken the words right out of my mouth. Follow his advice.

It’s been my experience that cars with electric power steering tend is the exact opposite, IMO they tend to be way over boosted, and tend to be more vague with less road feel. My parent’s 2010 Highlander is good example of this. My old Bronco with 33 inch tires and 4 inch lift exhibited better steering feel and was more properly weighted IMHO. I’ve also driven a friends new Chevy Malibu with electric power steering, it too was pretty vague and had very little road feel. My dad’s new Taurus SHO isn’t too bad though.

Tire pressure was the first thing I checked. Annoyingly insensitive steering (like uncomfortable seats) would not likely instigate a recall. Since every review I read mentioned the problem, I will assume it is a universal Tucson design flaw (the Hyundai engineers must have had SUV/rollover legal issues in mind). Nice to see (by the RAV-4 comment) that Toyota would rather have happy customers and spend more on legal staff.
I’m actually thinking of bolting a set of wide longhorn HD handlebars to the steering wheel just to gain some leverage. Maybe with breakaway clamps?


What you have is a problem that Hyundai is having with their Electric Steering in some of their vehicles. Your Tuscon is one model with frequent complaints. Another model with even more frequent complaints is the Sonata. Look on Youtube for many videos, and see if this is what your Tuscon is doing.

I currently have two vehicles in my garage with Electric Steering. My 2011 Mazda RX-8, and my gf’s 2012 Fiat 500. Neither car has a random tendency to pull hard to the left or right while driving down the highway for no reason whatsoever.

I would highly recommend that you keep bringing your car back to the dealer for service, and get receipts from them when they hand you the vehicle back. Once you have enough documentation to satisfy the Lemon Laws for your state, take video of it happening, and file the claim.


Yes, the dealer service manager & Hyundai customer service both encouraged me to bring it in. Of course, neither will commit and say that anything at all can be done to lighten the steering feel.
I might as well bring it in and tell them that it’s ugly & I don’t like the color, that I didn’t have my glasses on when I bought it, and I want their body shop to restyle/repaint it.
I’m guessing the factory will never admit a design flaw and only want’s to CYA in case of an actual mechanical defect, and the dealer is just looking to get some warranty labor reimbursement $.

Has wheel alignment been checked?

Alignment is next on my list, as (unlike a tire change) if there is too much castor it would be the easiest/cheapest fix, though I’m not optimistic since the car handles perfectly otherwise. I will check out another dealer nearby soon to see if THEIR service dept. wants my business enough to work with me honestly, and not pretend steering effort this hard at highway speed is normal.

On a lighter note, I actually did attach clamp-on bars to the steering wheel temporarily to see if doubling the wheel diameter (and thus the leverage) would make the steering easier. Luckily (dangerous/illegal/interfered with control features), it didn’t help. The doubled leverage (I’m guessing the Tucson’s steering is 5-10X heavier than my last car) was cancelled out by the doubled wheel travel. Just another source of annoyance.

I would like a confirmation if you have the same problem as me or if yours is something different. My car is a ix35 ( European name of Tucson ), gasoline, 2 liter engine, model iCatcher. I describe my issue like it follows:
At low speeds - less than 50 km/hour, if you take a corner the steering wheel comes back in the neutral position (the equilibrium in the neutral position is stable)
Above 50 km/hour if I move the steering wheel 2mm away from the neutral position and then take my hand off the wheel, the wheel remains 2 mm away and the car moves away from the straight line. That means that on the highway I have to continuously correct the direction.
Is that your issue also?
In my case no force is needed to make the corrections, it is just the amount of corrections needed that drives me mad :frowning: