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really awful
Crashes / Fires:
1 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
112,621 miles

About These NHTSA Complaints:

This data is from the NHTSA — the US gov't agency tasked with vehicle safety. Complaints are spread across multiple & redundant categories, & are not organized by problem.

So how do you find out what problems are occurring? For this NHTSA complaint data, the only way is to read through the comments below. Any duplicates or errors? It's not us.

2003 Hyundai Santa Fe steering problems

steering problem

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2003 Hyundai Santa Fe Owner Comments

problem #11

Jul 012014

Santa Fe

  • 72,000 miles


I was in a minor accident when the braking system failed on my 2003 Hyundai Santa Fe. I could not stop the SUV and ran into a guardrail. I could have been hurt or killed because of this. Others could have been hurt or killed. The dealership in beaver falls, pa has done nothing for the problem and I have brought it in and they said that my model is not affected which I find that very hard to believe. I am selling the car but I also want to let someone know that I am taking it to the dealer in the morning to get the coil recalls done. If the dealer decides not to do that either and with the air bag problem someone is going to get hurt or maybe killed driving this car and I just want to do my part and I do not want a law suit on my shoulders. I will give them one more chance to do the right thing. I have not drove the car since I had the accident and want to sell it and to do so I am having it inspected too. All the work should have been under warranty at the time I had the accident ! I guess it must be to expensive to fix and a life does not matter anymore to anyone in this sick world.

- Beaver Falls, PA, USA

problem #10

Jul 192014

Santa Fe 6-cyl

  • 126,976 miles
Just had an oil change done to vehicle on 7/15/2014 during the week driving to work Friday 7/18/2014 I lost some of my steering the tires squeak on the turns underneath on the right side frame rotted at the stabilizer, taken..

- East Haven, CT, USA

problem #9

Oct 212013

Santa Fe 6-cyl

  • 200,000 miles
I called Hyundai after having an issue with my rear tire and just purchasing 4 brand new tires. The rear of the vehicle looked bent and after not understanding why it appeared this way I looked up recalls. I was given a recall champagne #090 by Hyundai and told my vehicle was coved for repair. I brought the vehicle (unsafely) drove it 10-15 mph to the location to have it repaired. Approximately a month late the dealer contacts me and says that my vehicle is ready for pick up. I ask more questions about it and find out that they did the front frame of the vehicle and never even looked at the back! the dealer claims the champagne # 090 is for the front and the back frame is not covered. I went back and forth between Hyundai and the dealer and I was told by Hyundai it was covered but they never called the dealer directly. I was then told by Hyundai I had to wait for the regional office to contact me. I literally waited till December 16. 2013 and still ended up with no help from Hyundai. I did research and even being told afterwards that Hyundai gave me a incorrect champagne # I still should of had the rear sub frame repaired and any parts which it caused other damages, for example; the bushings and a new rear tire. I also have proof that all 2003 Hyundai santafe vehicles made from Jan 2003 through June 2003, which covers my vehicle. Any help from your company is much appreciated since my twin boys who are in college was using this vehicle.

- Bloomingburg , NY, USA

problem #8

May 212013

Santa Fe

  • 112,000 miles


2003 Hyundai sante fe gls - drove through a 2 inch deep puddle. Lost power steering, battery light and brake light flashed then a rubber burning smell started. Drove the car for two additional days after the repair shop couldn't find anything. Then driving home from work, airbag light turned on, brake light turned on battery light turned on, all analog instruments failed, tach failed, braking became inconsistent and engine started missing. I drove directly to repair shop, as I made my final turn into the repair shop the power steering failed then the car shutoff. Early report from mechanic is a failed alternator - my third one in the last year. I think I have a larger electrical problem with the car, fans fluctuate in speed for the past couple of years and every time it rains I get flashing brake and battery lights. Losing the power steering twice in three days is a little unsettling... ## VIN failed ##

- Vadnais Heights, MN, USA

problem #7

Jul 272012

Santa Fe

  • 125,000 miles
The right front rocker arm rusted out causing the right front wheel to no longer be properly supported. The lower support arm is no longer fastened to the front support frame. This caused the alignment to be off, improper and excessive tire wear (replaced tires well before the warranty was up). Hyundai had a recall for this problem on other models (front sub-frame) but not on Santa Fe's (only rear trailing arm was included in the recall). When experiencing issues in multiple vehicles for the same reason, but different locations, all locations should be checked and not only the only that is prominent. A 5 minute additional inspection vs. The ultimate worse case scenario of a death, seems like a no brainer. Hyundai knew this could be a problem and refused to address it. This has now cost us almost $3000 in repairs that could have been avoided. The mechanic that found the problem will not let the vehicle be driven from his shop, as it is too dangerous. The worst part is if that if this failure had occurred while traveling over the highway, it could have resulted in a severe crash, which as you know could result in serious injury or death. Hyundai was not interested in hearing about the problem when we contacted them.

- Cedar Rapids, IA, USA

problem #6

May 092012

Santa Fe

  • 188,987 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Hyundai Santa Fe. The contact stated while driving 15 mph, the steering wheel locked. When the contact stopped the vehicle and restarted it, the steering wheel unlocked. The failure occurred twice. The battery and brake lights illuminated on the instrument panel. The dealer stated that there were no complaints or recalls and advised the contact to bring the vehicle in to be inspected; however, the contact declined because of the cost. The manufacturer was not notified of the failure. The failure mileage was 188,987.

- Mount Dora, FL, USA

problem #5

Aug 182011

Santa Fe 6-cyl

  • 78,290 miles


I have 78000 miles 03 Santa Fe and had leaking power steering lines they rusted right through.

- Penndel, PA, USA

problem #4

Aug 172010

Santa Fe

  • 61,000 miles
Purchased as a used vehicle with 30,000 mi. In 2008 from a dealership with owners manual missing. On 8-1-2010 while driving home from work, the vehicle engine stopped running on a bridge on a busy roadway, causing the vehicle to lose power steering and power brakes. Other vehicles in the area had to take evasive action causing a immediate hazardous condition. Upon having the vehicle towed to a repair garage, it was determined that the cause of the catastrophic engine failure was the result of a defective timing belt that was a known issue for this model and make of vehicle. The manufacturer recommended changing of the timing belt was to be 60,000 miles, thus telling me the belt should have been changed in 2007 at the 60,000 mile mark. As you can see, I bought the vehicle in 2008 will 30,000 miles on it (no owners manual). I was told I was to be responsible for the cost of the replacement motor, which of course was a used motor because they redesigned the 3.5 liter engine in 2005 when this problem was evident and those engines would not fit my 2003. Why was there not a recall then on this for engine failure at that time" they had replaced the belt with a new design timing chain for the newer vehicles. While my vehicle was under repair, another 2003 Santa Fe was also in for the same issue. Fortunately, I was not injured, but the possibility was there. A minute earlier, I was traveling down a steep grade prior to the engine failure. This looks like an inherent problem for the Hyundai 3.5 liter engine, they had to get my replacement engine from Texas. Were used car buyers aware of this problem with the Hyundai 3.5 liter engine models prior to 2006? this is a serious safety violation. The vehicle engine failed without warning! how about Hyundai reimbursing me $4000"

- Ludlow, MA, USA

problem #3

Aug 272010

Santa Fe

  • 121,577 miles
2003 Hyundai Santa Fe gs, fwd, 2.7L automatic - battery light intermittently comes on in wet weather and power steering is lost. Online research shows other owners of the same vehicle have taken their vehicles to the dealer with the same problem and have received no fixes. Losing power steering while driving is a severe safety hazard.

- Arnold, MD, USA

problem #2

Mar 082010

Santa Fe

  • 118,000 miles
Brought my 2003 Santa Fe in for service when I was told that my steering rack was leaking and needed to be replaced at the cost of $1300 of course the warranty is up and Hyundai won't do anything about it sent a letter to the CEO who really didn't seem to care about my problem my wife is going through cancer and we rely on the car to get back and forth to treatments I have owned 6 Hyundai'sin the past so this will be my last one for the bad part is the car won't pass inspection if anyone else has had this problem please let me know the car has 118.000 miles on it and according to them that is a lot of miles so I guess they are saying the there cars don't last long.

- Raleigh, NC, USA

problem #1

Aug 082006

Santa Fe 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 35,000 miles
I had a problem for quite some time with hearing a clicking sound when I would turn my steering wheel, but it had recently got worse. On August 9, 2006 I took it in to the car dealership where I bought it. I was suppose to pick my sante fe up on August 11th but was informed that they were unable to find out what was causing the problem. One week later I still had not heard anything from the dealership so I called to see what the problem was. At this time they told me that the problem was an R&R motor mount, so they would be replacing it, but they had to wait for the part to come in. Another week passed and I called to see if my sante fe was done. They told me the motor mount had not corrected the problem and they would have to call in a specialty technician. The specialty technician could hear the problem but could not figure out where it was coming from. The dealership then told me I should just come and get my sante fe and wait until it got worse and then maybe they could figure out where the sound was coming from. I told them I was concerned that it could cause me to have an accident, they assured me this would not happen, but when I asked how they could be sure if they did not know what was causing the problem they told me to call the manufacture and see what they suggested. I contacted the manufacture and they told me they would help us find the problem. Three days later I got a call from the manufacture and they told me they had done everything they knew to do and I needed to go and get my sante fe and wait until the problem got worse so they could pinpoint where the problem was coming from. Again I voiced my concern about my safety. The manufacture assured me it was safe to drive, but I have my doubts if no one can figure out what is causing the clicking sound. On August 29 I went to the dealership and picked up my sante fe, they told me if it got worse to bring it back in.

- Newcomerstown, OH, USA

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