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

Electrical system, trailer hitch, and visibility/wiper issues are among the top complaints received by the NHTSA from vehicle owners

Updated on Author: Brian Jones | Reviewer: Sergei Lemberg

Are you having issues with your tow hitch harness? Read about our Hyundai Palisade Tow Hitch Class Action Investigation

The 2021 Hyundai Palisade is a three-row SUV that’s supposed to offer premium style at an affordable price. The automaker claims that every seat provides “all first class,” but many customers can’t wait to get out of it instead. The defective electrical system with major child safety lock issues, malfunctioning wipers, windshields that crack with minimal to no impact, and trailer hitch problems are causing quite the stir.

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Most Common Problems with the 2021 Palisade

More than 45% of complaints to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) about the 2021 Hyundai Palisade relate to visibility and electrical system issues. But that doesn’t tell the whole story. Visibility and visibility/wiper problems, which represent 32% of all complaints, relate mainly to windshields that crack for no reason or with minor impact, or because of issues with the windshield wipers. The most common electrical system problems relate to door and child safety locks. However, there are various other issues from electrical malfunctions to problems owners who have been unable to use their vehicles to tow because of an urgent fire-risk recall due to a trailer hitch harness module failure.

Many other components and systems feature in consumer complaints, including the airbags, brakes, engine, equipment, exterior lighting, forward collision avoidance, fuel/propulsion system, lane departure, latches/locks/linkages, powertrain, seat belts, seats, steering, structure, suspension, and vehicle speed control.

One issue worth highlighting is that there are a substantial number of complaints about seat belts that don’t retract, don’t stay buckled, are difficult to buckle or unbuckle, or simply don’t click together. There are also complaints about SUVs engines shutting off, powertrain failures, and issues with the fuel injector.

Additionally, there is an issue about a rotten onion or garlic smell in some Palisades, with some owners fearful that it might be due to toxic gasses. Eventually, in November 2021, Hyundai announced that the smell was from the synthetic foam in headrests they had obtained from a vendor in China. They said they had switched vendors to solve the problem.

Recalls and Investigation

In addition to complaints, there are also four recalls and one investigation into windshield wiper failure on file with the NHTSA.

Two of the recalls are also related to windshield wiper failure, one launched in August 2022 that affected 122,949 2020-2021 Hyundai Palisade vehicles. The second was launched on March 17, 2023. This affected 167,085 2021-2023 Palisade vehicles.

Launched in August 2022, the investigation was closed by the NHTSA’s Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) on March 17, 2023, when Hyundai replaced its initial recall with a new one. By this time, the automaker had also changed its wiper design.

The first recall filed was due to brake fluid contamination that can affect the brake master cylinder and reduce brake performance. By October 30, 2023, 811 of the 995 vehicles recalled had been “remedied.”

The most serious of the four recalls relates to the tow hitch harness of trailer hitches as it warns of an urgent fire risk. Debris and moisture accumulation on the tow hitch harness module printed circuit board (PCB) may cause an electrical short, which can result in a fire. Owners are advised to park outside and away from structures until the recall repair is complete.

Even though the recall is dated August 18, 2022, NHTSA Campaign Number 22V633000 states that owner notification letters were only mailed on May 18, 2023. Presumably this is because the parts required to do the recall repair were not available before this time. A total of 244,980 2020-2022 Hyundai Palisades were recalled. According to the most recent recall report on file with the NHTSA, by October 30, 2023, 182,021 of those recalled had been “remedied.” The total number of unreachable vehicles was 1,839, and the total “removed” was 2,913.

2021 Hyundai Palisade Complaint Summary

Complaint CategoryNumber of Complaints
Unknown Or Other
Electrical System
Seat Belts
Trailer Hitches
Power Train

Windshield Problems

There are a large number of complaints about windshields that crack after minor impact or no impact at all. For example, an owner from Tennessee reports that “a small pebble struck the bottom of my windshield directly in front of the driver position, leaving a very small chip in my windshield.” The chip was “so small and insignificant-looking,” the owner did nothing about it at the time. But about 18 days later, he noticed the windshield had a crack about 24 inches long, originating from the location of the tiny chip. At the time of the incident, the Palisade had been in his possession for six weeks, and it had only 2,000 on the clock.

Thinking the windshield might be a “factory defect,” the owner asked if anyone else had reported a cracked Palisade windshield. The service manager said only one, and explained that the damaged windshield was not covered under the new car warranty. A service estimate to have the windshield replaced amounted to $2,846.76. “I believe there is a lot of smoke that indicates Hyundai has a big fire with its defective windshield.”

An owner from Nebraska “heard something like a bug hit the windshield and saw a crack appear. Two days later, on another clean road, I heard something like a pebble hit the windshield and a much larger crack appeared, that looked like a spider web.” It was also a new vehicle with low mileage. Having found evidence of multiple similar instances reported on the internet, the owner states: “This is only the second year of production of these vehicles which could indicate a design defect. There is also a pending class action lawsuit regarding cracked windshields on Hyundai Palisades which also raises a red flag that these windshields should be recalled.”

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Wiper Problems

Fortunately, nearly three years after the 2021 Hyundai Palisade was launched in the U.S. the windshield wiper problems are a thing of the past. But a lot of owners were impacted by the faulty wiper design until it was updated.

An owner from Massachusetts tells it like it was. When there is snow or or ice build up under the front wipers this prevents them from going to their starting position. If the snow/ice builds up while driving, it also prevents them from continuing to function. “So, during snow storms when this occurs the wipers do not work, requiring the driver or other occupants to get out — sometimes even opening the hood due to the large wiper well on the car to clean all residual snow or ice including that under the hinge. This can be extremely dangerous if you need to do this on the side of a road or highway in poor weather like a blizzard or heavy snowfall.”

Anowner from Michigan says much the same thing. “The windshield wipers stop/lock with even a small amount of snow on the windshield anywhere in the wiper well (at the bottom, near the hood). Even if it’s cleared out very well to start, snow pushed down there by the wipers causes the wipers to stop working entirely, while driving.”

Door and Child Safety Locks

Problems relating to child safety locks are also common. Identified as an electrical system problem, when the child safety lock is on, the doors in the Palisade lock and unlock. This eventually results in a Child Safety Lock Failure message being displayed. Some owners report that dealerships can’t identify a problem.

An owner from Colorado stated in a complaint lodged in August 2023 that, “The child safety locks keep failing. When engaged, the child safety locks continue to click as if they are locking the doors again and again. Then sometimes, but not every time, the child safety lock failure error message is displayed. This is extremely dangerous because if the child locks do not work my children can open the doors while I am driving, putting everyone at risk. This is also incredibly annoying and distracting while driving, making it unsafe to drive while the locks are engaged. The car has been to the dealer for inspection and they can not seem to replicate it, though we are still working with them to try and figure this out. The issue started around 11,000 miles.”

An earlier complaint states that the failure started intermittently but is now occurring regularly. “The safety of children in the vehicle is put at risk because the system regularly fails, allowing children to open doors with (the) vehicle in motion. When the vehicle is taken to the Hyundai dealer that sold the vehicle, they claim they cannot reproduce it and that they have not heard of anyone else reporting the same issue.” Because of this, the dealer didn’t inspect the possibly faulty components.

Trailer Hitch Problems

Trailer hitch problems are also filed under as an electrical system problem. While many complaints state that the owners weren’t able to get their vehicles repaired after receiving the recall notification, other complaints focus on the interim solution offered.

The complaint from an owner in Maryland states that because there wasn’t a fix, he had to remove and replace the trailer harness fuse regularly to avoid a fire. “When paying $50K on a car you should not have to park outside away from your house for this long extended period because the manufacturer can’t figure out what the fix is.”

Another owner, also unhappy with the interim solution, says, “We bought the car to tow a utility trailer and we can’t.”

A more recent complaint dated July 24, 2023, is from an owner in Utah. “Instead of resolving the issue, they simply pulled the fuse and told us that we cannot tow with lights until they resolve the recall. My understanding is that this recall has been on the books for over a year now. This is extremely frustrating as I am not able to use the tow capability that I paid for when purchasing this vehicle.”

Sunroofs that Shatter or Explode

Most of the complaints about sunroofs shattering are filed in the Unknown or Other NHTSA category.

An owner from Texas describes how, when driving down a highway at 70 mph with no other vehicles nearby, “we heard exploding glass shatter above us. The sunroof cover was closed, so no glass in the cabin. There was nothing around us nor anything flying in the air that could have hit the sunroof. We stopped as soon as we could safely to look at it and the sunroof glass was shattered in the middle. I had to use Gorilla tape to cover the glass so we could drive the last 2 hours home.”

Another owner describes “an extremely loud explosion above (the) driver and passenger seats. Upon inspection at home, the sunroof has shattered with a hole directly in the middle of the unit. No debris or vehicles were in front of the vehicle during the incident.

An owner from Maine describes hearing “a loud noise” as the “sunroof glass exploded and glass fell inside on the driver and passenger. Glass also flew into the air on the vehicles traveling behind. There were no vehicles traveling in front of it during the glass explosion.”

While driving, an owner from New York states that “the sunroof randomly shattered. It sounded like it had exploded. The shade was closed so I was protected from the glass. There were no other cars around or hazards overhead.”

Similarly, an owner from North Carolina states that the sunroof glass burst and shattered into pieces. It sounded like a shotgun had been fired.

Your Lemon Law Legal Rights

If you think your 2021 Hyundai Palisade is a lemon, it’s a good idea to take action. Every year, auto manufacturers buy back, replace, or pay cash settlements to thousands of people who can prove they have bought lemons.

All you have to do is call the Lemberg Law Helpline or fill out a contact form and we’ll assess your case free of charge. Ultimately, thelaw makes Hyundai pay legal fees, so you’ve got

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.

See more posts from Brian Jones
  • AY

    2021 Palisade SEL. Vibration between the speeds of 65 and 75 mph. The dealership has replaced almost everything on the drivetrain of the vehicle, To include axels, differentials, drive shafts, transfer case and now the transmission. The problem still exists. I am working on a buyback from Hyundai now and will let you know how well they stand behind their product. By the way, I must mention that the dealership, which I will mention in my up-date, has done everything in their power to fix the problemđź‘Ť

  • Ray

    Jeff, Brandi. Are you left foot brakers? Some newer cars will not allow acceleration if the brake pedal is being depressed at the same time you are accelerating. The computer senses the light pressure of your left foot resting on the brake pedal and it is designed to shut down acceleration resulting in engine jerking, coughing, or stalling… Left foot braking on a vehicle with this system installed in its computer can also result in messed up transmission shifting, which over time will also damage the transmission.. Safety and computer smart driving systems on newer passenger cars will not tolerate left foot braking because a left foot braker cannot perfectly synchronize braking with acceleration.. The newer computer aided driving systems are so sensitive that they can also sense the lightest pressure on the brake pedal.. Hope this is the cause of your problems…BTW most manufacturers will not tell you this because it is taken for granted that people drive in a conventional manner with the right foot being used to both accelerate and to brake the vehicle..

  • Brandi i

    I am at 4000 miles and the transmission has failed. Jeff, I have a feeling that is what is happening to you as it started at 2000 miles and went to jerking while moving up to each gear during acceleration and soon went to the RPM’s bursting up while not accelerating nor going forward but slowing down because the car would not go up in gear ….until finally on the highway going 50 mph the transmission just went out and could not go into gear at all.

  • Jeff

    The car has only 2k miles, on it and it like hesitates, it scared me today when I went to make a left turn with traffic quickly approaching, my foot pressed the accelerator and it hesitated, like it was going to shut down, I feel it’s something electrical with that start/stop feature,. Very dangerous!! And, I’ve also had windshield wiper issues, as well

  • Jeff

    The car has only 2k miles, on it and it like hesitates, it scared me today when I went to make a left turn with traffic quickly approaching, my foot pressed the accelerator and it hesitated, like it was going to shut down, I feel it’s something electrical with that start/stop feature,. Very dangerous!!

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