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CarComplaints.com Notes: The 2011 Sonata has a seriously defective engine that seizes without warning. It was awarded the dubious honor of being the first CarTalk / CarComplaints Turd of the Week in late September 2015.

A class action lawsuit was filed in May 2015 against Hyundai that claims the 2.4L Sonata engine is defective. More info here.


really awful
Crashes / Fires:
1 / 5
Injuries / Deaths:
1 / 0
Average Mileage:
69,183 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.

2011 Hyundai Sonata engine problems

engine problem

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2011 Hyundai Sonata Owner Comments (Page 1 of 6)

problem #106

Jul 262015


  • 115,000 miles


On July 26, 2015 the motor of my 2011 Hyundai Sonata started to make a lot of noice. I was on country roads and tried to make it home and the engine siezed up a few miles later. Had vehicle towed to dealership. Service manager at dealership said that something had "let loose in the motor" causing to holes in the bottom of the motor. He said the motor was seized up and had to be replaced.

- Spring Lake , MI, USA

problem #105

Jul 182015


  • 91,000 miles
Stopped at a red light - middle lane of 3 lanes. When the light turned green I went to accelerate and realized the car had stalled. Car would not restart - repair shop said engine seized - which seems to be a common occurrence. Called one salvage yard that listed 4 in stock - they were all sold. I was stuck in the middle lane of traffic until a police car stopped behind me and turned on his lights. I am not under warranty due to being the 2nd owner (warranty is half - 50,000 miles). I still owe and now I have to pay at least $4000 to have a used engine installed (which appears will have the same problem eventually).

- Frederick, MD, USA

problem #104

Jul 192015


  • 130,000 miles
The contact owns a 2011 Hyundai Sonata. While driving at 20 mph, the engine seized and the vehicle stalled without warning. The contact was unable to restart the vehicle. The vehicle was towed to the dealer for diagnostic testing. The contact was informed that the engine would need to be replaced. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was not notified of the failure. The failure mileage was 130,000. The VIN was not available.

- Wrightstown, PA, USA

problem #103

Jul 132015


  • 60,484 miles


My father in law who is a mechanic changed my oil on Sunday. My husband and I have one car so I left vehicle home so it could get changed. Monday 7/14/15 I drove car to work which is 10 mins from home. I drove car home from work car was fine. When my husband drove the car back from the store and he said that he went to accelerate the car did nothing. There was no warning lights or anything. My husband had to coast all the way into driveway. In October of 2014 I had the starter replaced by the dealer under warrantee and 6 recalls taken care of. During that time they had broken the whole frame of the car and I was with rental for a week and a half. So at this time I thought that the starter went again. I had to wait until Friday to take the car to the shop since I was 484 miles over warranty and had to pay for diagnostic. Left car at dealership at 8:30am. They had not gotten back to me until Monday 20, 2015. The called to tell me that it was the starter which would not be covered and oh yeah you're engine has seized, and oh yeah you're car has been leaking oil profusely. I explained that the car had not been leaking the entire time it had been sitting in my garage nor did it leak on the tow truck. And then I asked how can an engine seize at 60000 miles. They want to charge me 8000 for starter and remoded engine and 6000 for new engine and starter. I am not replacing engine with another failed engine. I am going to seek advice from lawyer. Thank heavens my husband was not driving on major highway when engine cut out. Completely ridiculous. Had salesman told me about these issues when I bought the car in March of 2014, I would not have purchase the car. I think it is a lack of ethics.

- Dover, DE, USA

problem #102

Jul 112015


  • 62,400 miles
7/7/2015 malfunctioning warning light came on around 6 pm while in the middle of driving. 7/8/2015 malfunctioning warning light turned off itself. 7/9/2015 dealership diagnosis stated needed a new oil flow valve and strongly recommended oil change occur simultaneously even though oil change was not due for another 2 mo / 2500 mi. All work completed same day at a cost of $379.33 excluding tax. 7/10/2015 vehicle would not start. Had aaa towed to dealership. Dealership diagnosed bad starter lever. Replaced starter lever same day for total cost of $239.09. 7/11/2015 drove 0.5 miles from home. While driving on a busy road, a "pop" sound occurred, engine seized, all lights on dash came on, no control of vehicle, engine was smoking. Aaa towed to dealership.

- Bristol, PA, USA

problem #101

Jul 052015


  • 60,000 miles
The contact owns a 2011 Hyundai Sonata. While driving approximately 40 mph, the vehicle stalled and all the warning indicators illuminated. The contact had to maneuver to the road to a complete stop. The vehicle was towed to the dealer. The technician diagnosed that the engine seized and was unable to determine why the failure occurred. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 60,000. The VIN was not available.

- Santa Rosa, CA, USA

problem #100

Jul 082015


  • 79,500 miles


I was on my way home from work and accelerating from a stop at a traffic light when the car seized and initially appeared to lose power. No indicator lights came on prior to the incident occurring and there were no other indicators of any problems such as smoke, a smell, or any leaks on the ground when driving or parked. After pulling the car over and opening the hood everything appeared to be fine. We were unable to diagnose the problem and had it towed to a local repair shop. The next day the repair shop called and stated there appeared to be some sort of unknown damage to the engine which caused it to completely drain of oil. Oil covered the entire area of the engine compartment underneath the casing. The mechanics at the shop were unable to get the engine to turn at all. The vehicle just had a full service at the dealership on 4/24/2015 including: Oil & filter change, fuel induction service, replace engine air filter, replace cabin air filter, rotate tires, check brakes, check exhaust, suspension, belts, and hoses, top off all fluids, and multi-point inspection. At that time the car was noted in perfect working condition and no issues were annotated. The estimated cost to repair the engine is between $9,000 and $10,000, but the repair shop hasn't fully assessed the damage to the rest of the vehicle. From what I understand this should be under the extended powertrain warranty, but I'm currently going through the claims process to try and resolve this. A quick search brings up a multitude of similar cases for Hyundai Sonatas referring to catastrophic engine failure with near identical circumstances to what I experienced.

- Dallas, TX, USA

problem #99

Jun 132015


  • 92,000 miles
The contact owns a 2011 Hyundai Sonata. While driving approximately 15 mph, the contact accelerated to 30 mph to avoid an oncoming vehicle. The engine stalled without warning. The vehicle was coasted to the side of the road and towed to a local mechanic, where it was diagnosed that the rod bearings seized. The vehicle was under warranty and was subsequently towed to a Hyundai dealer. The dealer diagnosed sludge in the engine. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The failure mileage was 92,000.

- Santa Ana, CA, USA

problem #98

Jun 132015


  • 92,500 miles
The contact owns a 2011 Hyundai Sonata. While driving at approximately 15 mph, the engine stalled without warning. The vehicle was taken to an independent mechanic where it was diagnosed that the rod bearings seized. The vehicle was later towed to a dealer. The technician diagnosed that the engine was filled with sludge and needed to be cleaned. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was not made aware of the failure. The failure mileage was approximately 92,500.

- Santa Ana, CA, USA

problem #97

Jun 232015


  • 109,500 miles
In the evening of the 22nd the traction control light came on and would not go away when I pressed the button also the car would have a long lag between pressing or releasing the accelerator and the car responding. The next morning when I began driving again the traction control light did not come up but when I began to accelerate and got to 20mph the car suddenly stopped accerating and the engine went idle until I released my foot from the pedle and reapplied it when it would go again with no additional issues. This pattern repeated itself each time the car dropped below 20 mph.

- Clemmons , NC, USA

problem #96

Jun 152015


  • 109,100 miles


My engine seized which seems to be a known problem. I have maintained the vehicle very well....updated 07/30/15

- Ormond Beach, FL, USA

problem #95

May 182015


  • 80,000 miles
While driving the steering column began making a strande grinding type of noise. This is heard whenever the steering wheel is turned at any speed. The vehicle feels like there is no power steering. I have been told that the coupling, the steering gear system was bad and the entire steering column needs to be changed. This is a safety issue. The dealer wants $1400. This is ludicrous! the coupling is only $8-10. What is really going on with Hyundai? I just recently had to replace the engine because it just shut down when making a turn. The engine had seized. This is also an issue with 2011 Sonata!!!!

- New Orleans, LA, USA

problem #94

Jun 032015


  • 41,567 miles
On 6/3/15, we were driving on the highway when car suddenly lost power. Thankfully, we were in the right lane and my husband was able to get off on to shoulder. Towed into Hyundai who stated engine had seized.told by dot if we were in far lane we would have been dead and the shoulder we were on was actually a lane that was in use from 7 to 10 a.M and it was 10:15. To not be responsible for $10,000 bill we traded care in for another Hyundai model. Sonata was 3 years 10 months old and mileage was 41567.

- Toms River, NJ, USA

problem #93

May 302015


  • 138,000 miles
2.0 turbo engine. Driving on highway, vehicle stalled without flashing any warning lights. Pulled to the side of the highway and checked all fluids, none were below minimum level. Had car towed to dealer on the same day, dealer called me two days later to say that engine is seized and it will be $8900 to replace the engine.

- Worcester, MA, USA

problem #92

May 252015


  • 144,000 miles
The contact owns a 2011 Hyundai Sonata. While driving at an unknown speed, the vehicle suddenly stalled. The vehicle was inspected by an independent mechanic who diagnosed that the engine seized. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was notified. The VIN was not available. The failure mileage was 144,000.

- Abingdon, MD, USA

problem #91

May 152015


  • 91,000 miles
Driving down the interstate I heard and felt a faint puddering. I looked down and my oil light was on. I was able to immediately exit. As I was going on the off ramp the check engine light came on. I was able to barely pull into a park and ride. 20 minutes later oil was everywhere. The car never overheated, and there was a trail of oil from the road to my car. Since I had taken it to the get the oil changed just on the 5th of may, just 10 days earlier. I had the car towed to that facility. The piston internally slammed through the engine punching a hole in the engine wall, and leaking oil from the engine. The engine did not cease. Pieces and parts of bolts and side wall were found by the mechanic.

- Erie , CO, USA

problem #90

Nov 242014


  • 120,000 miles
While driving home the car just stopped and shut off. Before shutting off it was like the car lost all power. What I mean is that the even though the gas pedal was pressed the car would not move. I had to leave my car on side of a very dark and dangerous road. The next day I went to retrieve my car. I saw oil spots on the ground where I had pulled off the road and under the hood. Again, my car would not start, so I had to tow it home. I called tuscaloosa Hyundai and they told me that since my car was past the mileage warranty that the cost would be on me and that I would need a new motor. I informed the mechanic about the complaints on the 2011 model and I was having the same issues before my car stopped. John told me that, I just cant believe everything that I read. I'm very unsatisfied with his comment. He told me that I would just need a new engine. I can not afford this. I know that I have taken care of my car and for Hyundai to sat this is my fault is garbage. They know that they have messed up and are refusing to fix this problem. There is a class action lawsuit against Hyundai for premature engine failure. I just dont know what else to do. I have been without my car for 6 months now and I haven't gotten any where. I still have a car note and insurance.

- Brent, AL, USA

problem #89

May 192015


  • 60,000 miles
Was driving home with my 11 year old daughter during rush hour when the car just died in the middle of the road. Couldn't start it up, then it starting to smell like fire and a lot of smoke was coming out of the engine. Had to jump out of car and get it towed to dealer. This was after a similar incident happened a week before on my way to work where the car just stalled out and stopped in the middle of the road. Brought it into Hyundai dealer and they said I had a "sludge" problem. They ran a diagnostics test, but nothing came back. Told me to take to a reputable car repair place and get the oil changed because they didn't want to be liable. When I took it to Firestone, the guy there told me it wasn't a sludge problem and the oil wasn't as bad as Hyundai made it out to be. He changed the oil there, then a week later the engine died again in the middle of the main road and started smoking. I looked it up and saw numerous other similar complaints about the same exact thing happening to other people with 2011 Sonatas. They are trying to tell me it's my fault and will probably not be covered and will cost me about $6,000 to fix the engine. If so many other people have the same issue, then it is not my fault, it should be a recall (a dangerous life threatening one) from Hyundai as the car can just stop in the middle of the highway! my daughter refuses to get in the car again. Waiting to hear what they say, but I should not have to pay for a faulty engine problem that Hyundai is aware of.

- Coral Springs, FL, USA

problem #88

May 132015


  • 109,000 miles
I was on the freeway driving at 65 mph when the engine stalled and shut off. There were no warning lights indicating an issue with the engine. I was informed later by my mechanic that the engine had a catastrophic failure. The brakes failed because the engine was not running. I was lucky and able to coast to the next exit, the stop light was green and I could make it to safe location. Had the engine failed a few minutes earlier I would have been in the fast lane of the freeway trying to make it to the shoulder. Or trying to stop at a light with no brakes.

- Clstskanie, OR, USA

problem #87

Nov 302014


  • 73,000 miles
The contact owns a 2011 Hyundai Sonata. While driving at approximately 60 mph, the contact merged the vehicle over and noticed that there was an abnormal loud banging noise from the front of the vehicle. The vehicle was towed to the dealer where it was diagnosed that the engine failed and needed to be replaced. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure. The failure mileage was approximately 73,000.

- Woodbridge , VA, USA

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