2023 Hyundai Santa Fe Problems and Top Complaints – Is Your Car A Lemon?

Forward collision avoidance problems and related engine and powertrain issues are the main cause of complaints received by the NHTSA from vehicle owners

Updated on Author: Brian Jones | Reviewer: Sergei Lemberg

Originally launched in 2000, and now dubbed “the adventurous family SUV,” the Hyundai Santa Fe was the automaker’s first SUV. Now in its fourth generation, Hyundai boasts that it has the “best-in-class safety features,” and incorporates “the most advanced technology.” But, year after year, consumers complain about safety issues and technology that doesn’t work properly. Those driving the 2023 model express fears about “life-threatening hesitation accelerating,” and complain that the emergency brakes have a mind of their own.

Click on other model year to view more problems:  2019   2020   2021   2022

The Most Common Problems

It’s still early days for the 2023 Santa Fe, but by March 2023 it was evident that it hasn’t escaped the acceleration issues that 2022 owners have been facing. Owners see this as an engine and powertrain issue, even though they don’t know what the problem is, and dealers can’t help.

Other complaints to the National Highway Traffic Administration (NHTSA) are varied, with forward collision avoidance being another main topic. There are also several complaints filed as visibility/wiper issues, including cracked windshields.

An owner from Washington filed a complaint in three categories, Vehicle Speed Control, Visibility/Wiper, and Forward Collision Avoidance. The least of his worries seems to be that the automatic wipers are intermittent. But it’s certainly an issue. “The dealership has replaced the windshield sensor and (the) issue is now unreliable at best. The service department told me to simply wipe the sensor off or pour water onto the sensor to get the wipers to work. That seems to work for about 3 wipes and then stops again.”

More dramatic is the fact that “the driver seat changes position by itself while driving, and the advanced cruise control failed to provide any braking. This almost caused me to rear-end a stopped car in freeway traffic. Additionally, the advanced braking system does not work at all… I had the salesman check the settings and they are turned on but do not provide any braking function. The alert system does provide a warning if a car turns a corner in front of me, but fails to take any action.”

2023 Hyundai Santa Fe Complaint Summary

Complaint Category Number of Complaints
Power Train
Unknown Or Other
Forward Collision Avoidance: Automatic Emergency Braking
Service Brakes
Vehicle Speed Control
Electrical System
Forward Collision Avoidance: Warnings
Fuel/propulsion System

Urgent Safety Recall

On March 17, 2023, Hyundai issued an urgent safety recall of more than half a million Santa Fe and Santa Cruz vehicles. The problem is that water accumulates on the tow hitch harness module printed circuit board and this may cause an electrical short. If this happens, the vehicle may catch fire. Hyundai advises owners to park outside and away from structures “until the remedy is completed.”

It isn’t clear when the remedy would be available. But the recall notice, NHTSA Campaign Number 23V181000, states that dealers will inspect the modules and remove the fuse if necessary “as an interim repair.”

2019-2023 Santa Fe vehicles are affected, as well as 2021-2023 Santa Fe HEV, and 2022-2023 Santa Fe Plug-in HEVs. A smaller number (14,933) of Hyundai 2021-2022 Santa Fe Hybrids and 2022-2023 Santa Fe Plug-in Hybrids (PHEVs) along with 2023 Genesis G80 Electric vehicles have been recalled because of a fear that seat belt pretensioners may explode. If they do, the possibility is that metal fragments could be projected into the vehicle, striking and injuring occupants.

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Forward Collision Avoidance Problems

Convinced that he bought a lemon on January 14, 2023, a North Carolina owner states, “The front collision detection doesn’t brake to avoid (a) collision. The emergency brake will engage on its own, and it has to be manually disengaged. The parking assist feature will automatically disengage and is unable to engage it. The middle seat in the back seat headrest obstructs a major portion of the rear window, obstructing the driver’s view. It is not the headrest pictured in the Owner’s Manual. It has been in the shop twice.”

Having “owned this lemon of a vehicle” for 34 days, the complainant states that the 2023 Santa Fe “has been in the shop for 10 days and counting.”

An owner from Connecticut describes how he had two experiences. In “normal driving conditions” the “forward collision warning system engaged unexpectedly, (and) braked hard” even though there was “no collision imminent.” He could smell burnt tires. On a second occasion, when he stopped at a traffic light, “the vehicle suddenly warned of (a) forward parking collision.” Additionally, the front camera engaged and a yellow warning was displayed

Powertrain & Engine Problems

There are lots of acceleration issues with the 2022 Santa Fe. So far, the main problem facing 2023 owners is a general failure of the SUV to accelerate.

NHTSA Complaints

An owner from Virginia laid a complaint with the NHTSA after this had happened twice. “On December 11 and 12, 2022, my 2023 Hyundai Santa Fe Limited Hybrid failed to accelerate in traffic. In both cases, I was attempting gradual acceleration to change lanes or merge onto another high-traffic street. When I pressed the accelerator nothing happened. On (the) second occasion I could not get any power for several seconds.” Both times, the driver activated hazard signals to avoid collisions with vehicles rapidly approaching from behind in a 50 mph speed zone. The vehicle had only 900 miles on the clock, and the incidents happened less than a month after taking delivery.

Aware that this had happened to other Santa Fe Hybrids, the owner called the dealer. But “they seemed unaware of any problems.”

An owner from Florida also had accelerator issues. He calls it a severe life-threatening hesitation. The complaint states that the “car is unsafe to drive like this and has nearly gotten me and my family killed on numerous occasions.”

There is “sometimes as much as almost a 2-second delay from when you fully step on the accelerator to when it slowly starts to go. No warning lights or bells whatsoever.” The complaint states that it does it in all driving modes but seems to be “especially pronounced when at a dead stop in sport mode. (The) problem seems to have gotten progressively worse the more we have driven it. The Dealership is denying that there’s any problem or issue and didn’t want to make an appointment to look at it.” They “keep trying to tell me this is normal.”

What to do if your 2023 Hyundai Santa Fe is a lemon?

Are you convinced, like the North Carolina owner mentioned above, that you have bought a lemon? If you are, Lemberg Law is available to assess your case free of charge. We are a legal firm that specializes in lemon law cases and we have helped many vehicle owners get worthwhile settlements from automakers because their vehicles were indeed lemons.

The reality is that every year automakers pay back, trade in, or replace vehicles to lemon owners. And the law will make Hyundai pay the lemon law legal fees. All you have to do is call our Helpline or fill out a contact form, and we’ll do what we can to help you.

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
  • Alex

    Santa fe luxury hybrid 2023
    A real lemon
    All the lights on
    Check engine
    Steering System
    Engine failure
    Oil pan leak
    Engine side leak

    Santa fe luxury hybrid 2023
    Un vrais citron
    Tout les lumières allumé
    Check engine
    Système Direction
    Panne moteur
    Fuite pane à huile
    Fuite côté moteur

  • Don

    Leased a 2023 Santa Fe Limited, on the ride home from dealer bad vibration. Stopped at my son’s house and idled for about 3 minutes and over heated. Had it towed back to dealer. They replaced a module under the hood that took about a week to come in. Picked up and still vibrated. Took back to dealer and they rebalanced the tires and replaced one tire. Picked up and still vibrated, went back to dealer a few more times, finally replaced all tires and “indexed” the drive shaft. Still vibrates and over heating again. Towed back to dealer and still waiting for an answer. Hyundai has been called for a buy back, still waiting for an answer from them. Been at dealer for more than a week now. Dealer has been awesome, gave me a loaner and have no problems with dealer. This is my 15th Hyundai since 2009. Also my first one with any problems.

  • Candice

    2023 Santa fe calligraphy acceleration issues. Several times. I have been driving and stop at light/ stop sign when you go to take off it acts like it doesn’t want to move for a second. Now we have had 110 Temps but was doing this when it wasn’t as hot out. I owned a brand new 2019 and had no issues whatsoever on that one owned her 3 years. This 2023 is very small also Inside not many spots for nothing. Also the driver assist will assist when it doesn’t need to and when it needs to it doesn’t I think it’s a little confused sometimes . Don’t get me wrong her features, how pretty, the Comfort is all nice it’s the way she drives.

  • Michelle W

    My 2023 Sante Fe has been sitting at the dealership since March 10th, 10 weeks now, for a bad fuel injector they can’t get parts for.
    I can’t get a loaner either.

  • Dawn

    Emergency breaking in Hyundai Santa Fe Preferred 2023

    On 4 occasions my SUV performed emergency breaking with no other vehicle in front of the car, no imminent danger of collision. On 2 of the occasions a vehicle was on either side of me when it occurred. On the two other occasions there was 1 vehicle and either a lane barrier (cement block) and the other an open field. Speed was 60 to 100 when the vehicle suddenly emergency braked and flashes a quick message on the screen, along with the emergency brake being lit up. In two of these situations I was within inches of being hit from a driver from behind.

    I have brought it into the dealer who can not get it to repeat itself. So there is nothing they can do about it. I will be contacting transport Canada to advise them as I am now having anxiety about the safety of driving this vehicle the FCA option can be turned off but must be turned off everytime the vehicle is restarted.

    As I am still in the process of dealing with my 2018 oil consumption issue in my 2018 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport, feeling really defeated by lemons and stupid that I traded it in for another lemon.

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