2019 Hyundai Santa Fe Problems and Top Complaints – Is Your Car A Lemon?

Electrical, brakes, engine and transmission issues among the top complaints received by the NHTSA from vehicle owners

Updated on Author: Brian Jones

Consumers looking for a reliable SUV often turn to the 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe. After all it has been listed as having one of the best warranties on the market and even the automaker claims “safety comes standard.” Yet, actual drivers of this model have something different to say. Between the faulty electrical system, faulty engine, malfunctioning air bags and defective powertrain, this SUV proves to be anything but safe.

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Problems with the Transmission

The powertrain consists of everything that transfers the energy of the engine to the wheels. It’s what propels the vehicle forward. In the 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe, this system has some serious deficiencies.

One Edmunds review says, “We bought this car a few months ago because I’ve had a Hyundai before and my car had always been really reliable. Well we’ve been experiencing issues with this one. When it goes onto Auto off mode it jerks a bit and then this past week while I was at a red light the engine turned off and this loud alarm noise came on. The dashboard said to put the car in neutral/park and to restart the car. Well since this had never happened before I freaked out (I also had my 1 yr old in the car) and I turned on my hazards so that cars could go around me.  I did what the car said and after several tries if finally turned on and I was on my way again.  The car kept doing that at random times and then when we would try to turn it on it wouldn’t turn on until after several tries. We took it to the dealership where we bought it and they said they ran a check on it and couldn’t figure out what was wrong. At the time they didn’t have loaner cars so we were sent home. We didn’t want to drive the car with our baby so that same day we called a different dealership and told them our issues and they were great. They said to take it in the next day asap. We took the car in and they did an update they said that might fix it. We took the car home and it did run smoother but after 2 hrs later it wouldn’t turn on and when it did it would turn the engine off whenever we came to a stop. We called the dealership and took the car in and it is currently being inspected. I would like to know if anyone else is experiencing this issues. If so please let comment! We were so in love with this car but after all these issues we’ve been experiencing we don’t know what to do next, it’s a shame especially since its brand new!”

Again, it’s evident that Hyundai understands the issues. They even stated in Service Bulletin #19-AT-013H that the transmission might experience a harsh 2-3 or 3-4 upshift during cold temperatures. The moral of the story for Hyundai owners is to avoid driving their SUV in the cooler weather or strap in real tight for a wild ride.

2019 Hyundai Santa Fe Complaint Summary

Complaint Category Number of Complaints
Unknown Or Other
Electrical System
Power Train
Service Brakes
Air Bags
Vehicle Speed Control
Forward Collision Avoidance: Warnings

Problems with the Electrical System

With electrical equipment running everything in modern vehicles, it’s imperative that this system runs appropriately. Yet, the Santa Fe doesn’t seem to follow these rules.

One NHTSA complaint explains the electrical problems. “My new 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe from the time I bought it had the yellow Check Engine Light come on. It said the BSM system wasn’t working. Then the engine would not start on 4 separate occasions. I had to wait to get it to start. There have been 3 occasions when it did start it sounded like it was going to die, very sluggish and didn’t want to accelerate. The RPM would not increase. It also started 2 separate occasions it loses steering wheel power and the A/C stopped blowing cold air. I had to turn it off and wait to restart it. It is currently at the dealership waiting for the blind spot monitoring modules. The first time they replaced the module it still showed it not working. So now it is undrivable at [dealer], they say it’s not safe to drive so I am driving a loaner. They say they can’t determine why the engine did the described things above. These things happened while in motion and parked.”

It’s clear to the automaker that there are real issues with this vehicle. Service Bulletin #5NP-T3D4X-01 addresses some of the Engine Control Module and Electronic Stability Control software updates that must occur in order for this vehicle to function correctly. With troubles like these, it’s incredible that Hyundai has earned the reputation it has. This lemon is anything but functional and safe.

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Problems with the Engine

No one expects the Santa Fe to come with the most powerful engine on the market, but it should at least run correctly. Again, we see that’s not even close to the truth.

Another NHTSA complaint states, “On a brand new 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe, the engine stalled twice while driving the vehicle at low speeds into/out of a parallel parking space on a village street. I had to restart the engine in order to continue maneuvering the vehicle. This was very dangerous as I could have been hit by oncoming traffic.”

Again, the automaker isn’t attempting to hide any problems they are having. Service Bulletin #19-AT-019H talks about the Check Engine Light coming on stemming from trouble with the oil pressure harness and integrated oil temperature sensor. Aside from the electronic equipment not working right, owners also can’t rely on this engine to get them home safely. So much for being a leader in safety.

Problems with the Air Bags

While discussing safety, it makes sense to look at the air bags next. After all, they are considered to be one of the most essential safety features.

Check out this report posted on the NHTSA website. “The contact owns a 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe. The contact stated that while driving at 75 mph and was about to switch over to the left lane with the left signal indicator light on, the warning left indicator alert sensor light failed as a result, the contact collided side by side with another vehicle. The contact stated that the other vehicle was driving between 75-80 mph and crashed into the driver front side door, the rear end and the front end bumper and tire of the vehicle. The air bags failed to deploy, the contact stated that she was able to coast to the side of the road. The contact sustained left arm, neck, back, whiplash and a concussion. The contact also stated that half of her body was numb that required medical attention and was informed by her doctor that she had nerve damage and posttraumatic stress disorder. A police report was not filed. The vehicle was taken to [dealer], but was not diagnosed or repaired and informed the contact that it was not their problem since the vehicle was in an accident. The contact informed the dealer that the safety feature was not functioning. The dealer informed the contact that the safety features were turned off.”

While it might be true that this owner turned off the safety features, the air bags still should have deployed at those speeds. But, it looks like Hyundai knows that as well. There is a recall related to the side curtain air bags being damaged by the mounting bolts. When this happens, they won’t deploy. If the company can’t get the basic safety features down, how can they claim to be the best?

Problems with the Brakes

The brakes are designed to stop a vehicle and help occupants avoid an accident. It’s another basic safety feature that Hyundai seems to have trouble perfecting.

Another NHTSA report states, “The contact owns a 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe. While driving 80 mph, the brakes applied on their own and the BCA brake system activated warning message illuminated on the instrument panel. The failure recurred two weeks later. The vehicle was taken to [dealer], but they were unable to duplicate the failure. The manufacturer was notified. The failure mileage was 1,656.

In this case, it appears the Santa Fe is overcompensating for being so terrible at keeping people safe. Now, it just wants to stop whenever it can and avoid any more trouble. Maybe it’s decided to quit. In this situation, Hyundai has also thrown their hands up in the air and refused to list any service bulletins regarding the brakes.

Your Lemon Law Legal Rights

Think you have a lemon? Sit back and let the experts work out your lemon case at no cost to you. The law makes Hyundai pay legal fees. You may be able to get your lemon out of your life. Every year, auto manufacturers buy back, replace or pay cash settlements to thousands of ‘lemon’ owners like you.

About the Author:

Brian Jones spent more than 30 years working as an ASE Certified Master Tech and Parts Specialist at multiple dealerships. Brian has become an authority in the industry, traveling across the country to consult for car dealerships and contributing his expertise as a writer for several major automotive publications. In his spare time, Brian enjoys working on pickup trucks, muscle cars, Jeeps and anything related to motorsports.

See more posts from Brian Jones
  • Donald D

    Angela and Brandon – have you check out this:

    “Legal Notice of Hyundai Canada Theta II Engine Class Action Settlement Approval and Claims Process”

  • Angela S

    I bought my 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe in July of 2019. I have had it a little over a year now. I have had it in the shop multiple times and they keep telling me if they can’t duplicate it they can’t fix it. The check engine light started coming on immediately after purchase. This is followed by the message that there is a problem with the engine control system. The light is actually on more than it isn’t. Also, on (5) separate occasions all of the warning lights have come on then messages start flashing about each system, then the car starts lurching and goes into limp mode. Barely any acceleration at all. This is terrifying and I’m scared it’s going to cause an accident. The service dept. at the dealership tells me there is no record of my check engine light coming on even though I get the engine control message in my car and that is followed up by an email from BlueLink each time so obviously there is something wrong if they are notifying me. I have contacted Hyundai directly as the dealership says they can do nothing to help. Why brag about such a great warranty if you aren’t willing to stand by it?

  • Brandon k

    Bought a brand new Hyundai Santa Fe 2019 one year ago. 25000 miles and been put into limp mode twice in the same week. The first time I was almost rear ended because the car loses all acceleration. The second tome was in a parking lot going 10 miles per hr. The car is not safe to drive. It’s going to get someone killed or hurt really bad. Hyundai has a problem that they don’t want to fix. Now they have my brand new car with the top of the engine tore apart.

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