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Is there a problem with the 2010 Hyundai Santa Fe?

My wife and I tried out a 2010 Hyundai Santa Fe SE 3.5 AWD, and are thinking seriously of purchasing one. However, upon reading a few Hyundai owner forums, I see many complaints about the automatic transmission. I emailed my concerns to Hyundai, and receiver a reply stating they know of no transmission problems. Should I be concerned? Should I abandon the Hyundai and look elsewhere?


Stop by the local bookstore and see what Consumer Reports says about the frequency of repair of the trannys.

The 2010 Santa Fe was the first one to get a new 6-speed automatic trans, and as a result there is not yet a frequency of repair record for this model. However, I can tell you that I have heard anecdotal reports of some significant problems with this transmission.

First-year models frequently display unanticipated problems that must be dealt with at the dealer level. This problem is not unique and you should bear in mind that Hyundais come with a very long Powertrain Warranty. If the trans is going to give problems, based on a fault in its design, it will probably fail long before that warranty is over. Translation–no cost to the owner.

However, if this possibility gives you pause, then you should look elsewhere. Just make sure that the other vehicles you look at are not also “first-year” redesigns, because that could just take you from the proverbial frying pan into the fire.

A quick look at ALLDATA for the '10 and even the '09 models show some TSBs (Technical Service Bulletins) issued for automatic transmission glitches. The '10 model only shows a fail to start in P or N and a limp mode/harsh engagement fault.

Sometimes TSBs are issued to aid in the diagnosis and repair of vehicles that are already on the road. At some point those modifications may be performed during the assembly line process so a later year model vehicle may not have the glitches that an earlier model would have.

The reply stating they know nothing is standard operating procedure. No car maker will admit to any fault unless shoved into a corner at the point of a gun.

As to what to do, that’s a tough call. If you go with the Santa Fe you might look at the drivers door jam and check the production date. This will let you know if the vehicle is an early production (say the last 6 months of '09) or a late production. (late spring '10, etc.)
That’s no guarantee of remaining problem free but could swing the odds into your favor a bit.

I have also been seriously considering purchasing this vehicle and have contacted Hyundai and got the same response as you, also have read all the forums I could find - same result however somewhere I read that they will be using an “upgraded or fixed” transmission starting with vehicles manufactured after October 1, I am going to wait for the 2011 and look for a build date in NOv or Dec. I have talked to some current owners and none of them have had problems. Good luck, Andy

i have a 2010 santa fe with 19k miles…twice this week i was driving and suddenly the gas pedal stopped working and engine light came on. brakes worked, thank goodness.

anyone else have “Sudden Unintended Deceleration”??

after the first event, i had it towed to the dealer (following protocol in the manual). they reported a new recall (it had been serviced a few months ago), executed a computer update and all was fixed (or so i thought).

4 days later, with less than 100 miles driven since the repair, it happened again. this time i was in 35mph traffic so when the accelerator pedal no longer worked, i almost was rear-ended. i was able to coast out of traffic (brakes and steering fine)to a side street. i was able to coast home (.5 mile or so). car would accelerate after stop signs, although the gas pedal doesn’t respond at all. very scary that it even shifted to a higher gear and would go 30mph and keep accelerating if i didn’t brake!

it’s the weekend so the car sits at home waiting for monday. comments?

Belclaire, you might want to start a new thread for your new, separate problem. It sounds like you may have a problem with your electronic throttle, and this would be best handled by the dealer under warranty.

Somebody Help Me Out, Here.

Stop by the local bookstore and see what Consumer Reports says about the frequency of repair of the trannys.

As a decades long CR subscriber, I didn’t have to leave the house to research this. I put myself in the place of a new car shopper and checked up on the 2010 Santa Fe.
The “2011 Buying Guide” covered only through 2009 models. They scored the highest reliability rating.

I checked the “2010 Cars” and the “2011 Cars” magazines and found the 2010 and 2011 Santa Fe to be “Recommended”.

A search of complaints at the NHTSA for this Year/Make/Model was interesting. Take a look and get back here with your feelings on this issue. Let us know if you see a pattern ?

I did find a recall for some 2010 Santa Fe models. A misaligned intermediate shaft in the transmission can make noise, wear out and damage the transmission causing a loss of motive power, increasing the risk of a crash.

I think this is important to our ongoing debate of magazines being used to purchase cars that are reliable. I would like to give this some time to develop and then revisit it in the future. Based on CR, I would have felt secure in buying this vehicle. Based on what I’m seeing elsewhere, not so much.

Tell me what I’m not doing or what I’m missing, here.


For starters, you are missing my response, posted back in October, 2010.
If you read it, I think that you will see the disconnect between historical reliability data and the possible problems with transmissions in 2010-11 Santa Fes.

Belclaire, Regarding Your Experience With The Reliability Of Your Hyundai ( " I almost was rear-ended " ), I’m Glad You Are Safe And The Car Grounded Once Again.
Be Sure And Register A Complaint On The NHTSA File A Complaint Site. You Very Well Could Help Others From Having A Bad Experience.


"For starters, you are missing my response, posted back in October, 2010."
I Am Missing That. Can You Give Me A Link ?
What Else Am I Missing ?

Do you think these magazines do any research at all on complaints or NHTSA data bases or recalls on safety related issues before they recommend specific vehicles (Year/Make/Model) that they rate as reliable or do they base it soley on the controversial reader’s survey ?


thank you all for the comments…i did start a separate discussion, and i am reporting it to both NHTSA and Hyundai Corporate affairs. waiting for tow truck to take it to dealer.

“I Am Missing That. Can You Give Me A Link ?”

CSA–I am not quite sure why you need a link, but here it is:

Then, scroll up to the 4th post, and you can see what I said 9 months ago.
Following that, be sure to scroll through the entire thread, so that you can read everyone’s response.