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

Brakes, electrical system and engine issues among the top complaints received by the NHTSA from vehicle owners

Updated on Author: Brian Jones | Reviewer: Sergei Lemberg

Tucson is Hyundai’s best-selling model globally. The automaker says it “represents its vision for progressive design, eco-focused powertrains, and advanced technologies.” But 2021 Hyundai Tucson owners with faulty brakes and powertrains, engines that catch fire, and all kinds of electrical issues are questioning just how advanced these technologies are.

Click on other model year to view more problems: 2019    2020    2022    2023

Most Common Problems

The most common problems 2021 Hyundai Tucson owners are reporting to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) relate to the engine, brakes, and the electrical system. This isn’t surprising since there is an open urgent recall that warns of the risk of engine compartment fires linked to both brakes and the electrical system.

There are also complaints about other components and systems. These include forward collision avoidance, the fuel/propulsion system, powertrain, steering, vehicle speed control, and latches/locks/linkages. One issue that stands out is a delayed response to acceleration that is probably a powertrain problem.

Urgent Recall

Issued on September 4, 2020, the urgent recall potentially affects 652,024 Hyundai Tucson vehicles with model years ranging from 2016 to 2021. Initially, only 2019-2021 vehicles were recalled. Then, nearly four months later, on December 30, 2020, the automaker expanded the recall to include certain 2016-2018 models.

The recall warns that the anti-lock brake hydraulic electronic control unit (HECU) could corrode internally. If it does, this could cause an electrical short that could result in an engine compartment fire. Owners of affected vehicles are advised to park outside and away from structures as a precaution until the recall repair is complete.

The most recent documentation on file with the NHTSA was updated on February 2, 2023. It indicates that 549,599 affected vehicles have been “remedied,” but 11,636 are still “unreachable.”

Tucson Catches Fire

More importantly, the Tucson engine seems to be a dud. Customers continue flocking to the internet, looking for some answers.

Here’s one complaint on the NHTSA website. “Severe hesitation when attempting to accelerate from a stop. Car does not move, requires several attempts to press the accelerator before the car responds, extremely dangerous when entering an on ramp, merging onto a highway, or in heavy traffic. This has been an ongoing problem with this car, has not been rectified, Hyundai refused to acknowledge the problem.”

Sadly, previous Tucson models have been the subject of class-action lawsuit investigations because of poor engine builds. It wasn’t that long ago that some Tucson models were burning through oil at unusual rates. It wouldn’t be surprising if there were new lawsuits opening over the latest Tucson lineup too. After all, this engine clearly isn’t “always ready.”

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Complaints Related to the Recall

An owner from Maryland discovered after buying a new 2012 Hyundai Tucson that the VIN was included in the recall. The information didn’t come from the dealership, but from a friend who plugged in the VIN and did a search. “The result was very serious and life-threatening for both myself and my daughter.”

Concerned that Hyundai continued to manufacture and sell Tucson vehicles “with the same known safety flaw” after the recall, an owner from California contacted the NHTSA. “Rather than shut down the production line until corrections could be made, Hyundai continued to ‘investigate’ the problem while 2021MY Tucson vehicles continued to be sold.” At the same time, Hyundai admitted in documents filed with the NHTSA that the company was “unsuccessful in determining the exact root cause of the problem.” They later “concluded that the risk of an electrical short resulting in aa fire could be mitigated (not eliminated) by limiting the operating current in the ABS module through a lower amperage fuse.” Eventually, in November 2020, “a production change was implemented.” This resulted in the September recall being “expanded to include vehicles manufactured through November 2020.”

An owner from Kansas states that after getting the recall notice, he was told by the dealership the part was on backorder. Several months later he lodged an NHTSA complaint. “Haven’t heard from them since. When I called, I got the same speech about fires and they said there’s nothing to worry about.”

An owner from Texas was told the Tucson would have to be left with the dealer for 3-5 days for the recall repair in May 2022. “These vehicles should not be on the road at all and rental cars should be provided free of charge until the manufacturer works out all the problems.”

2021 Hyundai Tucson Complaint Summary

Complaint CategoryNumber of Complaints
Service Brakes
Electrical System
Fuel/propulsion System
Power Train
Service Brakes, Hydraulic
Unknown Or Other
Forward Collision Avoidance: Automatic Emergency Braking
Air Bags

Acceleration Problems

Issues related to a loss of acceleration aren’t generally isolated problems. For instance, an owner who reports a loss of power during acceleration has also experienced engine starting issues, stuttering, problems with the power steering, and an occasional burning smell from the brakes. “Despite my efforts, Hyundai hasn’t provided any solutions to these problems. I drive with multiple passengers in my vehicle all the time, including children and have major concerns regarding any of these issues happening, let alone while I am driving at higher speeds or with someone else driving my vehicle.”

In a complaint filed as an electrical system, vehicle speed control, and fuel/propulsion problem, an owner from California reports issues with accelerating. It states, the “vehicle rode almost like (the) brake was being continuously applied and slowing down the vehicle at times.” Additionally, even though the VIN isn’t part of the recall, the owner was “notified after purchase of the vehicle that it should be parked outside of my garage due to possible fire concerns.”

Also, while some owners regard this as a powertrain issue, others see it as an engine or fuel/propulsion problem.

Acceleration Hesitation Linked to the Powertrain

A complaint listed by a New York owner as a powertrain, engine, and fuel/propulsion issue, states that there is “Severe hesitation when attempting to accelerate from a stop. Car does not move, (and) requires several attempts to press the accelerator before the car responds.” It is “extremely dangerous when entering an on-ramp, merging onto a highway, or in heavy traffic. This has been an ongoing problem with this car, (and it) has not been rectified, Hyundai refused to acknowledge the problem.”

An owner from California states that the vehicle becomes unresponsive to the gas pedal after idling at a red light, and is delayed for about 5 seconds. After the car’s check engine light turns on “the vehicle begins to idle rough.” The vehicle also “shakes randomly when coasting above 30 mph and does not want to accelerate when pressing the gas pedal.”

An owner from Pennsylvania states that intermittently, the Tucson fails to respond when the accelerator is depressed. The complaint states that it only responds when turning. This “failure almost caused a rear end collision several times while driving through intersections.” The dealership mechanic was unable to determine the cause of the failure. However, the owner was notified of a possible transmission failure.

Acceleration Issues Linked to the Knock Sensor

An owner from Kansas states that the check engine light comes on, “flashing for a knock sensor.” Then the Tucson goes into limp mode. It won’t go over 2,000 rpm, travels at low speeds, and has slow to no acceleration. The complaint states that the sensor has been updated once and replaced twice, and it’s now happened a fourth time. “I am still fighting this issue and it’s looking like I will need an attorney.”

Another owner filed a similar complaint about the check engine flashing and the vehicle going into limp mode. “The vehicle would not accelerate past 30 mph and would not exceed 2000 RPM. This has happened as I have accelerated from either a stop or while in traffic. As of yet the dealer has been unable to permanently resolve the problem. They have replaced the knock sensor. The dealer has replaced spark plugs. The dealer has also replaced the catalytic convertor. They also recently scoped the cylinders and cleaned the engine with pressurized engine detergent.”

But the problem continues and, the complaint states, “I can always tell that failure is imminent.” It starts with the gas mileage dropping and there are “gas pedal hesitations and slight rhythmic pulsing.” Then, “I can feel gradual power loss in acceleration and very slight hesitations in acceleration as well.”

Your Lemon Law Legal Rights

If you think that your 2021 Hyundai Tucson might be a lemon, Lemberg Law will assess your problems and advise you. While many owners experience problems with their vehicles from time to time, this doesn’t necessarily make them a lemon. But if your problems recur and affect your use of the vehicle, there’s a good chance it might be a lemon.

Every year, auto manufacturers buy back, replace or pay cash settlements to thousands of ‘lemon’ owners. All you have to do is call our Helpline or fill out a contact form. It’s not going to cost you a cent because the law says Hyundai must pay the legal fees for lemon law cases.

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

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