Hyundai Santa Fe Years To Avoid (5 Common Problems)

At first sight, you’re most likely going to be thrilled by the astonishing design of the Hyundai Santa Fe midsize SUV.

USNews ranks the Hyundai Santa Fe SUV among the top 10 midsize SUVs to buy in the US; the actual position of the Santa Fe on the list is eight (8th), making it one of the best SUVs you can buy in the US.

But then, Hyundai Santa Fes are not built equal – some model years are better and more reliable than a few other years. Hence, in this article, we are creating a comprehensive list of the Hyundai Santa Fe years to avoid and why you should do that.

Hyundai Santa Fe Overview

Santa Fe is a line of midsize SUV models produced by the South Korean car manufacturer Hyundai. It is currently in the fourth generation and has multiple trim levels to choose from.

The Santa Fe SUV is available with a 5-speed manual, 4-speed automatic, or 5-speed automatic transmission paired with any of the multiple available engine options to choose from – depending on the model year and trim you’re buying.

Although Hyundai is a South Korean automaker, its Santa Fe line tops the charts in various countries – being listed among the best midsize SUVs to buy. Another interesting thing about this ride is that it is reliable. But then, let’s look at the worst model years you should avoid.

See Also: Hyundai Kona Years To Avoid

Hyundai Santa Fe Years To Avoid And Why

2004, 2007 – 2014 model years are among the worst Hyundai Santa Fe to buy. These years are linked with frequent expensive repairs, and they have poor reliability ratings.

However, the faults reported for these model years do not apply to all produced units; hence, you can find some people who own these Hyundai Santa Fe model years that still enjoy their ride.

Notwithstanding, here’s a quick list of all Hyundai Santa Fe years to avoid.

  • 2004 Hyundai Santa Fe
  • 2007 Hyundai Santa Fe
  • 2008 Hyundai Santa Fe
  • 2009 Hyundai Santa Fe
  • 2010 Hyundai Santa Fe
  • 2011 Hyundai Santa Fe
  • 2012 Hyundai Santa Fe
  • 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe
  • 2014 Hyundai Santa Fe
  • 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe

There are a total of 10 model years flagged as the “worst” to buy. Hyundai Santa Fe has a total of 22 model years, and 10 of them are considered “problematic”; it’s quite disappointing, but that doesn’t disregard the fact that Hyundai Santa Fe is a decent ride for everyone, including a family.

Common Hyundai Santa Fe Problems

These problems are the reasons why you should avoid the Santa Fe model years listed above.

1. Body Paint Problems

It seems the 2009 Hyundai Santa Fe was not coated properly; a seemingly high number of 09 Santa Fe owners allege that they found the paint peeling off within one year of driving the car.

This issue was reported for some other models years (2009 and 2013), but over 80 persons that owned the 2009 model complained about this problem; hence, it is safe to say that the 2009 Hyundai Santa Fe had a poor body paint which peels off at ease.

2. Engine Problems

Several engine problems have been reported for different Hyundai Santa Fe model years. The issues indicated include serious engine noise while driving caused by metal shillings and debris inside the crankshaft, oil leak, and turbo failure.

Fixing Santa Fe engine problems costs $1,500 upwards, depending on the exact component(s) that must be worked on.

3. Acceleration Problems

Some 2013 Santa Fe owners report that their vehicle jerks before starting or during acceleration. According to reports, the jerking occurs when you hit around 45mpg.

Fixing this problem usually involves working on the car’s gear system and transmission; you could spend up to $5,000 to fix this problem.

4. Steering Problems

Several Santa Fe owners have complained that the steering of their vehicle malfunctions randomly, and the car seems to shift/drift on its own.

This problem was mainly reported in the 2013 model. People who had this issue with their Santa Fe didn’t actually fix it; they just had to cope with it, making the 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe one of the worst models to pick.

5. Fuel System Malfunctioning

The most common fuel-system-related problem reported for Hyundai Santa Fe SUVs is a faulty fuel gauge. Most owners allege that the fuel gauge shows incorrect readings; apparently, this is caused due to failed fuel level sensors; hence, the fuel gauge indicates empty even on a full tank.

Ordinarily, this may not be a problem to a lot of people, but fuel sensor failure can trigger the check engine light, and you definitely won’t feel comfortable driving that engine light turned on. Typically, the fuel sensors fail after 100k miles.

Best Hyundai Santa Fe Years To Buy

Take out the 10 model years listed in the “Worst Years” section, and you have the answer. However, here’s a list of the best Hyundai Santa Fe years to buy.

  • 2001 Hyundai Santa Fe
  • 2002 Hyundai Santa Fe
  • 2003 Hyundai Santa Fe
  • 2005 Hyundai Santa Fe
  • 2006 Hyundai Santa Fe
  • 2015 Hyundai Santa Fe
  • 2016 Hyundai Santa Fe
  • 2018 Hyundai Santa Fe
  • 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe
  • 2020 Hyundai Santa Fe
  • 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe
  • 2022 Hyundai Santa Fe

However, there are yet a few complaints about the engine, transmission, and fuel systems of these “best model years.” But then, the problems are manageable in these years.

See Also: Hyundai Tucson Years To Avoid


Conclusively, the Santa Fe is a really reliable ride; it takes home a whopping 4.0 out of 5.0 reliability score on RepairPal. Also, it ranks as the second overall best midsize SUV according to RepairPal’s metrics.

The average annual repair cost of the Santa Fe ride is $515, which is lower than average for SUVs in its class.

Finally, this article has listed the Hyundai Santa Fe years to avoid and why you should do so. Furthermore, we provided the list of the best model years to buy from; Hyundai Santa Fe is a cool, appealing ride anyone would easily fancy.

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