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

Headlights, vehicle speed control, steering and powertrain issues among the top complaints received by the NHTSA from vehicle owners

By Brian Jones | Updated on

By Brian Jones | Updated on

This vehicle is subject to a recall. Find out if your Hyundai Kona is included in the recall.

The 2020 Hyundai Kona appeals to customers who want a compact SUV. In fact, the automaker boasts that this model is a “small SUV that’s big on adventure.” However, the adventure that comes with this SUV might be overwhelming to some drivers, especially when it has to do with the defects coming out of the powertrain, exterior lighting, vehicle speed control and steering.

Click on other model year to view more problems: 2019    2021    2022

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Problems with the Transmission

The powertrain includes many parts working together to supply energy to the wheels. When the transmission fails, the drive becomes downright unpleasant.

That’s what is seen with this Edmunds review. “I test drove a Kona SE yesterday and I thought the transmission was going to explode when I attempted to accelerate onto a busy highway.”

Driving a car that makes someone feel like it’s going to explode is a serious problem. No one should have to deal with these issues and uncertainty. However, the automaker is aware of multiple powertrain concerns, including what’s illustrated with Service Bulletin #20-AT-018H. This powertrain-related communication talks about the Check Engine Light coming on, along with a transmission that gets stuck in fourth gear or creates a hard shifting environment from Drive to Reverse. Riding a bucking bronco isn’t what most people have signed up for when looking for a Kona adventure.

Problems with the Headlights

When heading out on the adventure, owners want to have adequate lighting. However, this Kona isn’t producing the quality beam that many people have expected.

Here’s an Edmunds complaint to read. “Headlights suck folks! Make sure you drive at night before your purchase.  Looks like I will need to upgrade to some LED Headlights.  The OE headlights are dim and yellow and do little to help you see at night.”

It turns out that Hyundai is also aware of this problem. Service Bulletin #20-BD-014H talks about how moisture can accumulate in the headlamp, daytime running lamp, fog lamp and rear combination lamp. However, Hyundai has no plans to replace the faulty lamp assembly with properly-functioning parts. Instead, the company claims the problems can be fixed by turning on the lamps while the engine is running for a few minutes. If this was enough to fix the problem, owners would have no trouble fixing it on the daily commute to work, but it’s simply not the case. The part must be replaced with a properly working lamp assembly to fix the issue, but Hyundai thinks that is too much of an “adventure.”

Problems with the Steering

Keeping the Kona on the road appears to be another adventure that customers are dealing with. Wrestling with the steering wheel is what most people find themselves doing.

Here is an NHTSA complaint. “While driving over 40 mph, vehicle wanders from left to right without driver input. The electronic power steering requires constant driver input to correct direction of travel is most evident on straight four lane highway, condition was shared with [dealership] on 20 mile drive. Purchased new 6/27/20.”

While Hyundai hasn’t been shy about problems, there has been nothing said about steering issues. Instead, owners are left fighting with the Kona to ensure on-road safety. Hopefully, the drivers have been working on their arm muscles to maintain a straight line. Otherwise, they could get pulled over for suspected drunk driving.

Problems with the Vehicle Speed Control

One last complaint focuses on a faulty vehicle speed control. This system, when malfunctioning, can lead to a lot of trouble.

Just look at this NHTSA complaint. “On Tuesday, March 2020, I pulled into a parking space at a local CVS store shortly after 5 pm, about to come to a complete stop and shift into Park, when my 2020 Hyundai Kona suddenly and inexplicably accelerated, jumped the policeman, then the curb and rammed into the wall of a CVS store. My airbag was activated and the car rolled back after the impact. There was no damage to the wall and the sheriff’s deputy who arrived after the car’s emergency notification system was activated did not make a report since the employees at CVS declined to press any charges. My vehicle sustained medium damage to the front end, but was drivable. I sustained a very strong blow to my upper chest and have had problems breathing. I took pictures of the area but did not go to a doctor the same evening. I have been driving over 12 years and have not had a single accident or even a ticket in all this time and I am 100% certain I did nothing wrong!!!”

This instance fits right into the philosophy that driving the Kona might make people think that the owner is under the influence of alcohol. After all, who is going to believe that the car automatically plunged itself into a brick wall, yet that’s the case. Again, Hyundai remains quiet about these dangerous “adventures” being made possible by this lemon SUV.

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.

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Brian Jones

About the Author:

Brian Jones spent more than 20 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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1 COMMENT
  • LEWIS L

    ON JULY O6 2022 I HIT A LARGE DEER HEAD ON WITH MY 2020 HYUNDAI KONA AND DID CONSIDERABLE DAMAGE TO MY FRONT END AT 60 MPH. THE AIR BAGS DID NOT DEPLOY. THIS VEHICLE HAS BEEN A HEADACHE FOR ME AT 22,000 MILES MY ENGINE SIEZED UP, THE DEALER REPLACED THE ENGINE WITH A REMANUFACTURED ENGINE AND STARTER AND TOLD ME THAT NOW I ONLY HAD A 12,000 MILE WARANTY ON THE MOTOR NOT THE 60,000 MILE WARRANTY THAT CAME WITH THE CAR ( I PURCHASED THE CAR BRAND NEW.) THE COLLISION WARNING LIGHT COMES ALL THE TIME AND DISABLES THE SYSTEM. THE CAR IS TERRIBLE ON OIL COSUMPTION USES A QUART OR MORE IN LESS THAN 1,000 MILES OF DRIVING I’M CONSTANTLY CHECKING THE OIL LEVELS. THE FRONT HEADLIGHTS ARE ALWAY BURNING OUT I’VE HAD THEM REPLACED NUMEROUS TIMES FROM DIFFERENT GARAGES AND DEALERSHIPS. THE VEHICLE HAS JUST TURNED OVER THE 25,000 MILE MARK. THE CUSTOMER SERVICE I HAD FROM THE DEALERSHIP AND HYUNDAI CORPORATE HEADQUARTERS HAS BEEN AWFUL. WHEN MY VEHICLE SEIZED UP HYUNDAI DEALERSHIP PICKED UP MY VEHICLE WITH ONE OF THEIR AUTHORIZED TOWING COMPANIES AND TOOK IT TO THE CLOSEST DEALERSHIP TO GET IT REPAIRED. THE DEALERSHIP WAS 99 MILES FROM ME. THEY SAID I COULDN’T GET A LOANER CAR THAT MY INSURANCE WOULD HAVE TO PAY FOR ONE.WHEN THE REPAIR WAS DONE I ASKED THEM TO HAVE IT DELIVERED BACK TO ME SINCE THEY PICKED IT FROM HERE, THEY TOLD ME THAT BECAUSE THE DEALERSHIP WAS LESS THAN 100 MILES FROM ME THAT I WOULD HAVE TO PAY TO HAVE IT DELIVERED AND THAT MY INSURANCE COMPANY WOULD HAVE TO PAY FOR IT. THE PROBLEM WAS MY INSURANCE ONLY PAYS FOR TOWING 75 MILES OR LESS AND IT WOULD HAVE TO BE BROUGHT BACK TO MY HOME ON A FLATBED TRUCK WHICH I WAS TOLD IT WOULD BE MY RESPONSIBILTY TO PAY THE REST AND THAT IT MOST LIKELY WOULD BE AT A COSIDERABLE COST. WHEN I EXPLAINED THAT TO THE DEALERSHIP I SAID YOU HAD IT TOWED THERE I I WOULD LIKE IT TOWED BACK HOME AT THEIR EXPENSE. THEY TOLD ME “SORRY” THAT’S OUR POLICY. I TOLD THEM I HAD NO WAY TO GET THERE AND THE CUSTOMER REP SAID WELL JUST GET ON A PLANE AND GET HERE AND HUNG UP. I EVENTUALLY GOT HOLD OF SOME PEOPLE I KNEW TO DRIVE ME TO THE DEALERSHIP SO I COULD DRIVE THE VEHICLE HOME. I PAID FOR GAS AND TIME TO THE PEOPLE WHO DROVE ME TO THE DEALERSHIP TO PICK UP MY CAR AND DRIVE IT HOME. I AM 75 YEARS OLD AND HAVE NEVER HAD THESE KINDS OF PROBLEMS WITH ANY CAR OR DEALERSHIPS. THAT I HAVE HAD WITH THE HYUNDAI CORPORATE OFFICE OR DEALERSHIPS. I WILL NEVER BUY FROM THIS COMPANY AGAIN!

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