Hyundai Won't Honor Their Warranty on Theta II Engine

I bought a brand new 2015 Hyundai Sonata in the fall of 2014. In the summer of 2016, with only 33,000 miles on the engine, it failed. If failed in the same manner that the 2011-2014 models failed and were recalled for.

Here’s the problem: When I had it towed to a Hyundai dealership to get the engine replaced (not only was it under warranty, but I had the EXTENDED warranty), the warranty company refused the repair, claiming it was an owner’s maintenance issue.

When I offered to show them my maintenance records, they refused to accept them.

I had to go to arbitration with the BBB (which was paid for by Hyundai), and was denied again. For two years I’ve been making payments on tis car in my garage, hoping that it will be recalled, which I think it will be, but only because now they’re also bursting into flames, generating a lot of press.

I recently received an “Important Produce Improvement Campaign” related to my car…


Hyundai has created a software update to help the car notify the driver that the engine is failing, and it will allow you to go into “Limp Home Mode” (I didn’t make that up) to permit you to drive your vehicle to a safe location with lower acceleration and speed. If you park in a safe spot, presumably so you can let the fire burn in an out-of-the way parking lot so you don’t make the nightly news. The car will show a Malfunction Indicator Lamp (MIL).

Also, there’s a WARNING: (in bold) “If you ignore the blinking MIL and continue to drive your vehicle in Limp Home Mode for an extended number of miles, your vehicle may eventually experience SEVER ENGINE DAMAGE and/or STALLING.” (That sure sounds like a warning that the failure would be your fault, doesn’t it? You’d have to share some of the liability because you LIMPED home too far away.

Now how does THAT fit into their defense that the engines are safe? They didn’t develop this “enhancement” for other models of cars, so there must be something unique about my Sonata. Did any TUCSON owners get something similar in the mail?

So this is what I’m hearing from Hyundai…
When your Sonata engine failed, it wasn’t our fault. It was YOUR fault because you didn’t put oil in it often enough. But even though it’s NOT our fault, we’ve gone ahead and developed a software “enhancement” to let other people, like you, know when THEIR engine is about to fail (not that it would, because there’s nothing wrong with the engine!)

IF you get the enhancement installed, BE CAREFUL because it DOESN’T STOP THE ENGINE FROM FAILING!, it just gives you a little heads up that it MIGHT fail soon (because none of the other guages in your car indicate anything is wrong-- when mine failed the temperature wasn’t even running hot). Also, if it’s about to fail, we’re going to disable the car, just a little bit, so it won’t accelerate on the highway, or even go very fast, but we’re sure that won’t be a problem for you. (You know, there’s nothing safer than driving on a highway slower than the rest of the traffic!)

As usual, SHARE THIS wither everybody you know! Share it with the lawyers you talk to about your issue. Share it with every one of your friends that drives a HYUNDAI, and especially the Tucson and Sonatas. EVERY SONATA OWNER should call the company to say, “WTF”?

On a positive note, I used my disabled Sonata in my garage to hide my kids’ XMAS presents… So there’s that.


read a few online comments. seems motor has issues even if you change oil weekly. just a weak motor. so, if they deny warranty even if you have records of proper OCI than you are stuck. bites that you have proper maintenance service but they deny coverage

Please list the mileage at each oil change that you did.

Did the oil ever get below the “add 1 quart” mark on the dipstick?

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You don’t say whether Hyundai honored their warranty. If they refused your claim because of the maintenance record you provided, that is not the same as not honoring their warranty.

You did say the warranty company refused the repair and to accept (does that mean look at, or deem credible?) your maintenance records. If your maintenance records weren’t good enough for Hyundai, the warranty company might not have had faith in them for good reason.

It’s a tough spot to be in but it’s not clear that you bear no responsibility. Good luck and please keep us informed.


FYI: As far as I know, all cars sold in the U.S. since model-year 1996 when the second version of On Board Diagnostics (OBD2) became standard, will go into Limp Mode for certain computer faults that create a danger to the drivetrain/vehicle operation and WILL limit speed/shifting, etcetera. Limp mode is really nothing new, but perhaps Hyundai had to add certain fault codes to that parameter.


They definitely did NOT honor their warranty.

After opening the engine and seeing “sludge” in the engine, they immediately claimed it was an “owners maintenance issue” even though they REFUSED to look at my maintenance records.

I tried over and over again to get them to look at my maintenance records. The first oil change was at the dealership where I bought the car at 7000 miles. There was a sticker in the window showing that oil had been changed recently. And other records were hand written notes when I would get oil changes.

I was sen to the BBB web site. Eventually, I was forced to go to arbitration. The woman representing Hyundai at the arbitration hearing didn’t even know that the previous model years had been recalled. Still, because some of the oil changes were hand written in my owners manual, I lost the arbitration.

Now there’s a class action lawsuit against Hyundai representing all of the owners of these models. It’s a bad engine and a bad warranty company.

They don’t say what I did wrong, they simply say that its an “Owners Maintenance Issue”. If you read the stories from customers that had the 2011-2014 models, the customers were told the same thing then (even though they ended up recalling those cars). They just didn’t include the 2015 model because they said the problem had been solved because the engines were being manufactured in a different facility. One of the Hyundai engineers, however, spoke up and said it was a design issue, not a manufacturing issue. Google it. Or I can provide links here.

What exactly happened to your engine? Is it seized? Does it run poorly or make noise? Do you really think that a recall, if one is issued, would force Hyundai to replace the engine even without proof of professional oil changes?

That’s tough to say until it happens or doesn’t happen. Class action law suits could help the cause.

Most of we regulars on this site always recommend letting the dealer change oil as specified or at least keeping very good hard-copy records of proper maintenance, while the vehicle is still in warranty.

That could give an advantage if push comes to shove.

Most manufacturers consider that oil consumption up to a quart per 800 to 1,000 miles is “normal” and admonish people (in the Owner’s Manual) to check oil level and top-off as needed at each gas fill-up.

What does the manual say about checking/correcting oil level?

Besides oil changes, how often was the level checked and corrected?

How much oil was being consumed and at what rate?

Did the rate increase before the engine went belly-up?


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These engines have problems, there are two service campaigns for this vehicle.

The first is a to add enhanced knock sensor software that can detect “abnormal engine bearing noise”. If abnormal bearing noise is detected the MIL will blink and the engine will be put into limp home mode allowing the driver to drive to the nearest Hyundai dealer for repair.

The second service campaign is for inspection and engine replacement if necessary if fault P132600 is detected.

These campaigns are for owners of vehicles with a warranty. It seems that Hyundai may have documented your engine failure as an “Owner Maintenance Issue” which has voided your warranty. There may no longer be a warranty to honor.

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They didn’t honor their warranty because you didn’t keep your oil change receipts. You do realize that anyone could write notes into the owners manual about having their oil changed AFTER the engine failed.

I have had engine warranties honored after an engine failure when I have done the oil changes myself, but I keep a hand written notebook of all maintenance
along with dated receipts of all oil and filter purchases.

I have a 2012 Toyota Camry that Toyota has extended the transmission warranty to 10 years and 150,000 miles and 10 years. My owners manual says the transmission has to be checked every 30,000 miles. There is no dipstick.

I emailed Toyota and asked how I was supposed to check the transmission without a dipstick.

They replied that the 30,000 mile check was a visual check for leaks only, assured me that the transmission fluid never needed to be changed, and that the car monitored the transmission temp and if I ever got the warning light for high transmission temp, to get it to the dealer for repair. I note checking the transmission for leaks when I change the oil and I have kept a hard copy of that email.

I feel the pain here. These engines are defective. We have a 2013 Sonata with the recall and it is burning oil. It is better with the 5W30 than it was with the 5W-20 weight oil that the manual recommends as preferred. I keep topping the oil but it is tricky as my wife is the primary driver.

I don’t think BBB would help. I have not seen them do much anyway. Maybe take Hyundai to small claims court.

This is stupid. Pay to fix the car and drive it. This is the second post we’ve had this week from a Hyundai owner denied warranty that let their car just sit. This is a dumb thing to do. Argue with Hyundai to get your money back with a lawyer by your side. There are attorneys that specialize in this and you NEED one because you are getting nowhere with Hyundai on your own.

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How many months did it take to accumulate those 7k miles?
Every manufacturer’s maintenance schedule specifies a mileage number, as well as an elapsed time value, with a proviso of “whichever comes first”. For reasons that I will never understand, a huge percentage of the public can’t seem to wrap their heads around the “whichever comes first” verbiage. I’m not saying that you are one of those folks, but it would be good to know how many months it took for the odometer to reach 7k miles–especially since they found sludge in the engine, which is suggestive of too long an elapsed time interval between oil changes.

Unless those notes were accompanied by receipts for the purchase of the correct viscosity oil and for the correct specification oil filters, no manufacturer is going to consider your notes to be a valid proof of maintenance.

I understand that these engines were problematic, but I am fairly confident that Hyundai would have replaced your engine under warranty if you had kept better records.

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From 2015 Sonata Owner’s Manual:

Owner’s Responsibility
Maintenance service and record retention are the owner’s responsibility. You should retain documents that show proper maintenance has been performed on your vehicle in accordance with the scheduled maintenance service charts shown on the following pages.You need this information to establish your compliance with the servicing and maintenance requirements of your vehicle warranties.

Improper owner maintenance during the warranty period may affect warranty coverage.For details,read the separate Owner’s Handbook & Warranty Information booklet provided with the vehicle. If you’re unsure about any service or maintenance procedure,have it done by an authorized HYUNDAI dealer.

Owner Maintenance Schedule When you stop for fuel:
• Check the engine oil level.
• Check coolant level in the engine coolant reservoir.
• Check the windshield washer fluid level.
• Check for low or under-inflated tires.

[My note - Repeat: Check the engine oil level.] (At each gas fill.)

Well, at least you’ll know for your next car.

Then why did they turn down the repair before even looking at the records?

I have the e-mails between the warranty company and the mechanic. They were very clear…
Warranty Company: Is there “sludge” in the engine?
Mechanic: Yes.
Warranty Company: DECLINED

Not, did he have proper maintenance records and THEN decline… Declined first.

And this is after recalling the 2011 - 2014 models for “sludge in the engine”.

Now, is there a test somewhere that shows the difference between sludge due to engine design and sludge due to owner neglect? I don’t think there is.

Also, what is your point? Is it that they are RIGHT to decline a warranty repair because I don’t keep perfect records?

Because MY point is that they made a poor engine that melted down with only 30000 miles on it. And now they’re also bursting into flames on the highway.

I bought the car in August of 2014, and it failed in June of 2016. In the interim, I moved from Minnesota to Texas, with three round trips between the states in those two years.

I’m pretty sure the warranty doesn’t say that I have to keep perfect records and it certainly doesn’t say that I have to have the oil changed at the dealership.

they opened motor and saw sludge buildup. since you have no proof of receipts for oil changes at 7k, 14k, 21k, 28k, 35k you are out of luck. how did you pay for the oil changes. credit card? debit card? any chance you have long term history access with your bank? look for a $38 receipt at store every 6 month or so.

You’re optimistic if you think having perfect records and receipts would have had a different result.

Lawyers won’t take the case because there is not a large enough pay off for them.

My point is that no car manufacturer would consider hand-written notes to be acceptable as proof of maintenance unless those notes were accompanied by the appropriate receipts for oil and filters. This isn’t just Hyundai’s policy, and it is a policy followed by every mfr.

I really empathize with you because you were saddled with an engine that is problematic, but you didn’t help your case because of failure to retain the receipts for the oil and filters that you bought.