2020 Hyundai Elantra Problems and Top Complaints – Is Your Car A Lemon?

Suspension, powertrain and engine issues among the top complaints received by the NHTSA from vehicle owners

Updated on Author: Brian Jones

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The 2020 Hyundai Elantra is one of the top choices among American drivers. Even the automaker claims it is a “stylish, dependable sedan.” Still, owners find many defects once they have been driving it for a little. From the suspension to the wheels and the engine to the powertrain, there are many major components that are failing.

Click on another model years to view more problems: 2019   2021   2022   2023

Problems with the Suspension

The steering and suspension work together to ensure a smooth ride on any road. When any part of this system malfunctions, it can be very difficult to control the vehicle.

That’s what is shown with this NHTSA review. “While driving the car at the speed range of 40-70 mph the steering wheel undergoes abrupt stiffness change from stiff to very soft causing sudden jolt of the vehicle right or left depending on the road condition. This happens all the time at this speed range. Lost control resulting in almost crashing into a divide barrier. Driving requires maintaining the steering wheel in strong grip at all time and a lot of experience to avoid loss of control.”

It turns out that there is a suspension-related recall affecting the Elantra. NHTSA Campaign Number 19V721000 states that the lower control arm ball joints can detach because they were insufficiently tightened from the assembly line. If this occurs, owners are looking at trouble with keeping the car under control and therefore, might cause an accident. This wouldn’t be what most people would consider “dependable.”

2020 Hyundai Elantra Complaint Summary

Complaint CategoryNumber of Complaints
Engine
53
Power Train
27
Unknown Or Other
16
Steering
14
Exterior Lighting
10
Electrical System
7
Service Brakes
6
Vehicle Speed Control
5
Forward Collision Avoidance: Warnings
4
Fuel/propulsion System
4

Wheel Problems

In conjunction with the suspension, the wheels and tires must also be reliable in order to keep occupants safe. Yet, this is another area that simply fails.

One NHTSA complaint states, “When I pulled out of my driveway at about 5 mph and began increasing speed (10-15 mph), I felt like my front tires may have needed air. I checked my dash and confirmed that all the sensors for tire pressure were on and working and the air pressure seemed to be fine. I began to increase speed and by this time was traveling eastbound at approx. 55 mph on the hwy, when the front left tire suddenly felt loose. I wasn’t sure if it was my tire or the road itself but before I could even switch lanes my tire seemed to jerk me over to the left side of the road. My back tire fell off the ledge of the hwy and caused me to pull the wheel to try to correct the imbalance but I didn’t have enough time before the steering wheel was wandering off toward the left causing me to smash head on into a tree into the center divider.”

It should come as no surprise that there is also a wheel-related recall. NHTSA Campaign Number 19V720000 states that the right-side wheel lug nuts on the rear tire might not have been tightened correctly, which could cause the wheel to detach. What is going on at the assembly plant? Were they distracted when building the Elantra or simply incompetent? Sadly, this is a dangerous situation, not nearly as fun as something that is seen in cartoons.

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Problems with the Engine

Aside from the structure, there are also mechanical aspects that must be made correctly. The engine is probably the most important. However, this is just one more source of pain for owners.

An NHTSA complaint states, “The contact drove a 2020 Hyundai Elantra loaner vehicle. While the contact’s son was driving, the vehicle revved to approximately 80 mph and then suddenly stalled. The driver stated that the Check Engine indicator illuminated. The contact’s son coasted the vehicle off the road and started the vehicle, but it did not respond. After approximately two more attempts, the vehicle regained power. The contact called [dealership]. The vehicle was not diagnosed or repaired. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 1,000.”

While there isn’t a recall for this problem – yet, the company is acknowledging some engine troubles. Even Campaign T5B Dea talks about various DTCs with illuminated warning lights that are signaling troubles. Some of these might require an ECU and TCU update. At this point, it takes an expert to fully control the Elantra. From the steering to the suspension and surging engine, it’s best to keep both hands firmly planted on the wheel and hope that the journey to Point B occurs safely.

Transmission Problems

Finally, a look at the transmission reveals just as many defects.

Here is one Edmunds review worth mentioning. “Transmission failed at 3500 miles and had to be completely replaced (took over 2 weeks but was covered by warranty). Now at 6500 miles it is happening again and I was essentially told I would have to pay or wait for it to completely fail again. If it does, I will be contacting a lawyer about lemon laws. I need a reliable car and can’t afford to rent a car for two weeks every three months.”

While the company hasn’t recalled any Elantras due to the defective suspension, Service Bulletin #19-AT-021H-1 does acknowledge a slipping transmission. From the beginning to the end of this Elantra production, it’s a major disaster. It started by putting a defective engine and transmission under the hood and ended with assembly workers failing to tighten parts and bolts properly. At this point, the car might have been better built by a five-year-old.

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.

Brian Jones

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.

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14 COMMENTS
  • Dee

    35.000 miles so far on my 2020 Elantra and just starting to hear a weird noise when I turn the steering wheel. Like a scraping noise. Will see where this goes

  • Jan

    Have a Hyundai Elantra 2020 with 30 miles, Bought the car Feb. 2021. The car was making noises and stalling. When I pulled over and checked under the hood there was oil everywhere and I checked the oil and the dipstick was empty. I towed it to the nearest Hyundai dealer and on a Thursday night and was called on Friday around 12pm that they will look at my car and call me back. I called them back on Friday around 4pm no answer. I called them multiple times and no answer from the service agent. I had to go in Monday afternoon to find out about my car. Then they get a manager to tell me that I need a new engine and that my warranty will not cover it. This is crazy. He states who ever did the oil change put the filter incorrect. Which is a lie. Because the oil change was done 6 months ago synthetic oil and it was coming up for a change. I think if the oil filter was put incorrectly I would have issues way before the 6 months. Oil was checked a week before and the level and color were good. Also no loaner for me to drive. And having to pay for a engine.

  • David

    I have a 2020 Elantra and have intermittent high beam operation problem.

  • Chris S

    I have a 2020 Hyundai Elantra SE And it was bought in dec of 2019 and luckily has been a great car up until a month ago almost when i was on my way back to san antonio from houston and my transmission slipped and screamed and my car wouldn’t go 2 hours away from home.. Hyundai Roadside wasn’t any help so i had to pay out of pocket to have it towed an hour back and after that i took it into a Hyundai dealership and told them what was wrong they did the recalls on it and tried to say it was fixed and order more things for me to pay for. I was not happy about it. the dealership and the service advisor tried to call me a liar because i brought my car back 2 minutes after getting the keys back for it to act up again and they didn’t give me a loaner vehicle but they state they will reimburse me for paying the rental and towing after the repair. i just feel im being punished because they dont know how to build a car and the car has only 24,600 miles on it. Here i am waiting a month later almost for my car with no good communication and rude attitudes from the Hyundai dealership. this defininty affects my buying choice in the future and Hyundai is not on that list for all the issues i have to endure that was not my fault at all.

  • Lucy

    I have a 2020 Hyundai Elantra and Overall I love the car. I have been having an issue with loss of power while driving and accelerating. All of a sudden while driving at a steady speed or accelerating the RPMs drop drastically, I lose speed and it feels like it is going to stall. On Several occasions this has happened while I was making a turn across the on coming lane and almost got t-boned. The dealer has had my car multiple time to check this out. They have taken care of all the recalls so It’s not a recall item. the computer isn’t giving them a code and they can’t duplicate this as I can’t even duplicate it as it happens randomly. I am now afraid to drive my car and am growing increasingly frustrated. I am not frustrated with the service dept of my dealership as they have been understanding and have done all they can do including put me in a loaner, had their techs on the phone with Hyundai numerous times, have taken it on several short test drives, and will be taking it on a long test drive to see if that makes a difference. If they can’t duplicate it on the long test drive and the computer still gives no codes what do I do?

  • Rebecca

    Got an oil change at 65k miles. Engine ceased, battery failed and starter failed. Save your money don’t get a Hyundai for a long-term car. Hyundai did offer me Goodwill financing for the cost of the engine. I won’t be paying for the full cost of the engine thank God.

  • Tyrah

    Ticking noise under hood! No cup holders in back! Headlight issues!

  • Erica p

    I bought my 2020 elantra last month and was in love with it until i started noticing little problems with it. First problem my trunk wouldnt shut. My second problem was it felt loose in the steering. Third problem was the engine revs up but wont change out of gear. Now a ticking noise.

  • ELAINE A

    Purchased 2020 Elantra Limited, in October 2019. Saw grease from the front of the passenger side of the car all the way to the back door. Though I drove in something on the road. FOr 4 days, it was pooled in the lug nut pocket. FILLED, they told me it was excess TIRE SHINE. Tire shine is not light yellow. Called, car was ready, the car was filthy, the hub cap was black, this was a NEW CAR, the grease was still on the car, the Service Report states, cleaned car, car was not cleaned, however today 4/29/20, I was leaving Home Depot, waited to turn onto the highway. I could see the traffic light was red about 400 yard or more,very familiar with this area, lived here my entire life. I could see it clearly, put my breaks on, the car accelerated hitting car in front of me, ONCE HARD, THEN A SECOND TIME HARD, HAD TO SLAM THE CAR IN PARK OR IT WOULD HAVE DONE IT AGAIN. MY FOOT WAS BREAKING THE ENTIRE TIME………..???? NOTICED REVIEWS THAT THIS ACCELERATING HAS OCCURED BEFORE WITH HYUNDAI’S. ALSO ISSUE WITH TIRE. BUBBLE ON THE SIDEWALL. HAD 3842 MILES. i AM DISABLED AND DON’T DRIVE TO MUCH. THEY SAID IT WAS A POTHOLE. FOUND OUT THAT NEXEN TIRES HAVE THIS PROBLEM AND THAT YOU CAN FILE A CLAIM, HAD TO PURCHASE A NEW TIRE. NHTSA, COMMENT, SAME ISSUE, THEY CALLED NEXEN AND THERE IS AN ISSUE WITH SAME CAR AND TIRE SIZE. GOING TO TRY TO FILE A CLAIM, HOWEVER REPLACED THE TIRE AT THE DEALERSHIP, THEY PROBABLY ALREADY FILED A CLAIM.

  • ELAINE A

    Purchased 2020 Elantra Limited, in October 2019. Saw grease from the front of the passenger side of the car all the way to the back door. Though I drove in something on the road. FOr 4 days, it was pooled in the lug nut pocket. FILLED, they told me it was excess TIRE SHINE. Tire shine is not light yellow. Called, car was ready, the car was filthy, the hub cap was black, this was a NEW CAR, the grease was still on the car, the Service Report states, cleaned car, car was not cleaned, however today 4/29/20, I was leaving Home Depot, waited to turn onto the highway. I could see the traffic light was red about 400 yard or more,very familiar with this area, lived here my entire life. I could see it clearly, put my breaks on, the car accelerated hitting car in front of me, ONCE HARD, THEN A SECOND TIME HARD, HAD TO SLAM THE CAR IN PARK OR IT WOULD HAVE DONE IT AGAIN. MY FOOT WAS BREAKING THE ENTIRE TIME………..???? NOTICED REVIEWS THAT THIS ACCELERATING HAS OCCURED BEFORE WITH HYUNDAI’S.

  • Amy

    Bought a 2020 elantra Oct 2020….took it for oil change in Jan 2021…by end of February I noticed it ticking noise from the hood so I checked the oil and when I did no oil on dipstick or even in the motor it was black and smoking when took cap off…it has 10 thousand km on it ..it was at dealership for month finally got the car back ….personally I think it’s a lemon and this is just the start….they did replace the motor and covered under warranty….also had a loaner which was a bonus ….but still my first car ever and this happens not happy Hynduai

  • Lisa W

    Steering issue. Car often looses power while excelerating

  • Jeff s

    2020 hyundai elantra value addition 1100 miles electrical problems when turning head lights on they don’t work the heat doesn’t work the wipers don’t work. Did nothing due to systems being down after paying 300 out of pocket for rental for coverage I had to take car back not fixed and now at 2400 miles transmission. Bands and start shimmering from exceleration back at dealer for the second time in the 1 month I’ve owned it. Told transmissions are on back order could take up to a month to get the transmission dealer it was originally towed too said this is a major problem with the elantra 10 enterprise cars had gotten the transmission replaced by motorworld hyunda these cars should be recalled and this one should have been checked for this problem and fixed before sold. 3 days out of work because hyundai has not gotten me into a rental yet

  • Matthew

    I have a 2020 elantra that has a loud knocking noise coming from the engine. It also is burning a half a quart of oil every 1000 miles and the car is 4 months old. Hyundai told me it’s normal and is doing nothing to help me. I just have to wait for the engine to fail before they will replace it.

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