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

Electrical, fuel system and engine issues among the top complaints reported from vehicle owners

By Brian Jones | Updated on

By Brian Jones | Updated on

Having a family-friendly SUV should be exciting and fun. The automaker claims that the 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe is “more than ready,” but ready for what? With a defective engine, malfunctioning electrical system, faulty forward collision avoidance software and a dangerous fuel system, this SUV isn’t ready for much.

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Problems with the Engine

The most important part of any vehicle is the engine. Without a properly running motor, the ride is going to be unenjoyable, which is exactly what is seen with this Santa Fe model.

One Edmunds review reads, “I really had high hopes for this vehicle. I came from an Audi q5 and the interior comfort seemed to be on par. But that’s where the comparisons end. The turbo engine and transmission have been a problem from day one. Lots of transmission and engine lag. Transmission shudders when engine finally wakes up and puts the power down. Check engine light at 2,000 mi and dealership had to contact the tech line because everything is so new no one knew anything about it. Now have a rental car and waiting to have a new car back…not even a month old.”

It turns out that Hyundai is aware of several engine problems. Service Bulletin #21-EM-004H talks about the need for engine connecting rod bearing clearance testing, which should never be something thought about with new vehicles. The engine should be in tip-top shape from the factory, with all these clearances already worked out. Clearly, the engine isn’t “ready” for anything that an SUV should provide.

Problems with the Electrical System

While having a functioning electrical system might not be as important as the engine, it can create a lot of problems.

Here’s another Edmunds review. “Just received the car back after four days at the dealer. They said the problem was fixed. They said it was a wire and a pin. Well… once the lights came on they would not turn off. The side mirrors would not retract, the interior lights would not turn off. I started that car up again and put the headlight in the off position. The interior still stayed on. I have had this car in my name for 3 weeks. It has been in and out of the repair shop for three weeks and dead waiting to go in for 3 days. I only drove this car for three days during daylight hours. This is patheactic and unacceptable. I want this returned. If ever there was a lemon this one is it.  I never should have accepted delivery. It started that day and hasn’t been fixed since.”

Hyundai isn’t even trying to hide all of the electrical system problems. Service Bulletin #20-BE-014H shows that the Wireless CarPlay system can automatically disconnect while being used. When this happens, a message appears saying, “Phone Not Responding.” The only fix being offered is for the driver to reconnect their phone, which can become such a distraction. So much for being able to connect to the best podcasts, music and content while on the road.

Problems with the Forward Collision Avoidance

With so many distractions, it would be extremely helpful to have a functioning forward collision avoidance system, but that’s not going to happen either.

One more Edmunds review says, “We got a fully loaded lemon which started to seriously malfunction at only 2100 miles.  Computer module malfunction put car in collision control mode and loss of power steering – a potentially life threatening malfunction.  While Hyundai offers many fancy features for less this and their inability to fix the problem has tainted our opinion of this vehicle.”

Sadly, when these safety systems malfunction, the air bags are needed as a last line of protection. Yet, these systems aren’t working right either. NHTSA Campaign Number 21V185000 says that some Santa Fe vehicles have an Occupant Detection System (ODS) module that might not deactivate when a child is in the passenger seat. These defective air bags can cause excessive damage if they are allowed to inflate with a child in the seat. Someone needs to tell these air bags that there’s no need to be so “ready.”

Problems with the Fuel System

What’s more alarming with the Santa Fe is all the trouble being experienced with the fuel system. Even with recalls, the automaker can’t seem to get things right.

Here’s one NHTSA complaint. “The contact owns a 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe. The contact received notification of NHTSA Campaign Number: 21V524000 (Fuel System, Gasoline) however, the part to do the recall repair was not yet available and would not be available for another three months. The contact stated that the manufacturer had exceeded a reasonable amount of time for the recall repair. The manufacturer was not made aware of the issue. The contact had not experienced a failure. Parts distribution disconnect.”

The recall being referenced talks about affected vehicles having a faulty pipe connection that is allowing fuel to leak between the rail and pump. These fuel leaks can lead to a car fire and should be corrected immediately. However, the dealerships don’t seem to be “ready” for this fix yet. Another recall, NHTSA Campaign Number 21V308000 also talks about the fuel pipe not being tightened correctly. It has become clear after all of this information that the Santa Fe is, in fact, “more than ready,” but only for the local salvage yard.

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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  • Heriberto H

    I have a 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe. I have problemas with the shift selector. The suv has been taken for service three times and the technicians haven been able to fix the problem.

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