2021 Hyundai Kona Problems and Top Complaints – Is Your Car A Lemon?

Engine, powertrain, and electrical issues among the top complaints received by the NHTSA from vehicle owners

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

Owners of the 2021 Hyundai Kona prepared for a fun drive, especially since the automaker claimed it is a “small SUV that’s big on adventure.” However, the adventure they have received is different than what was expected, thanks to the defective air bags, malfunctioning electrical system, unreliable engine and failing powertrain.

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Problems with the Air Bags

Having a working set of air bags is essential for on-road safety. Yet, there are Kona customers that are finding this vital safety system isn’t working correctly.

One Edmunds review states, “I had my AWD Hyundai Kona for about a month. I was in a major accident and my car was declared totaled. I was hit from the front and back off my car. High impact. NONE of the airbags deployed. My face went into the windshield and I was slung around inside the car even with my seatbelt on. I now suffer from bone bruising and swollen muscles. I do not recommend this vehicle to anyone. I’m in the process of speaking to an attorney.”

While there aren’t any communications about air bags, there are plenty about another vital safety feature, the service brakes. Service Bulletin #20-BR-002H states that Hyundai is aware there could be fluid leaking from the brake caliper area. Having defective brakes and malfunctioning air bags at the same time is similar to creating a perfect storm. The Kona might be looking for an adventure, but it might be best to stick it on the sidelines instead.

Problems with the Electrical System

The same level of quality is found when looking at Hyundai’s electrical system. It’s a source of complaints for many customers.

Check out what this Edmunds review says. “When the car was built, the technicians failed to connect something under the headliner that controlled the GPS. Since that time, I’ve had issues with the GPS system and the Bluelink system. I’ve owned this car for 2 months and so far, it’s been at the dealership for 19 days of the 2 months that I’ve owned it. Hyundai still can’t figure out how to fix the Bluelink issues.”

According to Service Bulletin #20-BE-014H, there are also issues connecting to the most desired technology. Wireless CarPlay might not work correctly and can auto disconnect, leading to dropped calls and interruptions to music. There’s nothing quite like having to deal with connectivity concerns while driving, especially when the air bags might not protect the occupants.

Problems with the Engine

The engine is arguably one of the most important parts of any vehicle. Yet, Hyundai has struggled for years to get the design and function correct.

One NHTSA review points out, “After loud explosion sound, the engine stalled 3 times recently while driving and today. No brake, hard steering wheel, and almost bumped the car front of me. I took my car to a dealer last week and they said no fix despite of safety recall. Without any warning, first it happened 3 weeks ago.”

It should come as no surprise that there is a recall for this engine. NHTSA Campaign Number 21V301000 points to problems with the 2.0L Nu MPI engines on more than 150,000 vehicles. It appears that the piston oil rings weren’t properly heat-treated, leading to permanent engine damage that requires an engine replacement. However, the automaker can’t replace the engines fast enough, leaving customers to drive defective SUVs. In the meantime, these drivers are putting themselves at risk for a car fire, which is nothing new to Hyundai. There were numerous earlier Hyundai models involved in class-action lawsuits because of fires. With that information in hand, it appears that Hyundai is just continuing to do what it has done previously – put customers’ lives at risk.

Problems with the Powertrain

The final set of complaints is related to the powertrain that seems to provide as much reliability as the other systems.

A final Edmunds review states, “Bought my Hyundai Kona Ultimate AWD with a turbo 11/9/2020, started having an issue with the transmission within weeks. Clunking sounds from the back end when I accelerate occasionally at first & 4 times a whirring squeal. Took it into the service department but they didn’t experience the issue on the test drive and saw nothing loose when it was on the lift. Very disappointed in this purchase, I foresee this developing and being an inconvenience for me even though it’s warrantied.”

Hyundai hasn’t issued any information about the powertrain, probably because it’s so busy dealing with defective engines. It appears that every major system in the Hyundai Kona is leaving undesirable feelings with customers, leaving them to urge potential buyers to find an adventure elsewhere.

Your Lemon Law Legal Rights

Think you have a lemon? Sit back and let the experts work aid your lemon 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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