really awful
Crashes / Fires:
3 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
2 / 0
Average Mileage:
17,640 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 brakes problems

brakes problem

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2003 Hyundai Santa Fe Owner Comments

problem #11

Mar 092006

Santa Fe 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 577 miles


I own a 2003 Hyundai Santa Fe (V6 2.7L 4 wd). My issue has a long history. Once the brakes get warmed up (usually in stop and go traffic) and I begin to coast the brake pedal will shudder and I hear a low roaring or rubbing sound from the right front tire. The noise will stop if I depress the brake pedal - even just a little. This goes from a mild issue to a big problem - the vibration and noise was serious enough that I stopped and had the car checked immediately. I've been told by dealerships one time it was nothing and another time, it was too dangerous to drive my car. The last (and hopefully last) solution was some sort of lubricant put on the brakes. I have yet to go a full year without this problem recurring. This has been going on since I bought my car and while some of the repairs have been covered, others have not and I believe I have paid for unnecessary repairs. I have had my car serviced for this issue 9 times. No more Hyundai's in my future. Hopefully this info will help someone else and maybe someone at Hyundai reads these complaints.

- High Ridge, MO, USA

problem #10

Dec 242006

Santa Fe

  • Automatic transmission
  • 34,518 miles
- while driving, the vehicle would not stop when the brakes were applied, the brake pedal went directly to the floor, causing the contact to turn the power off in order for the vehicle to stop. The contact stated that once he turned off the vehicle and turned it back on the brakes worked fine. He stated that at the time of the incident he felt a vibration and heard a loud clicking sound. Vehicle was currently at the dealership. Updated 2/9/2007 - the vehicle was taken to the dealer but they were not able to duplicate the problem.

- Villa Rica, GA, USA

problem #9

Mar 022006

Santa Fe 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 45,000 miles
I drive a 2003 Hyundai Santa Fe 3.5L V6. On Thursday, March 2, 2006, I was driving slowly down a steep, snowy hill in my neighborhood. When I applied the brakes to slow the car in order to maintain control in the snow, the brake pedal kicked back and the brakes would not engage completely. They felt as though there was a mass of something solid blocking the pedal from depressing all the way. I pressed harder on the brake pedal, released the pedal, pressed it again, but nothing I did kept my car from continuing to propel itself downhill. I nearly sides wiped a parked car because, as my speed increased, the Santa Fe slid out of control on the snow. Only by some miracle was the rest of this busy neighborhood street empty. I finally regained control at the bottom of the hill. After that incident, the brakes worked fine. But this was not the first time this dangerous failure had occurred. And that seems to be the pattern of this problem: One or more incidents on a wet or snowy day followed by normal operation. In April of 2004, the original problem developed. Any time I tried to stop on a wet or snowy street, the brakes would slow the car, but not stop it completely. At that time, Hyundai did find a problem. My service receipt says the ABS actuator was bad, the ECU was reprogrammed, and the hydraulic unit failed and was replaced. However, this time, on March 3, 2006, even though the Santa Fe brakes had failed in the exact same way as 2 years ago, Hyundai found no problem in the diagnostic it ran and did not attempt to make any repair. They actually told me that this is the way that the ABS is supposed to work. I am certain that my brakes will fail again, but until my Hyundai dealer says there is a problem, they'd like me to believe there isn't one. I'll try to remember that the next time I roll down a snow-covered hill.

- Fall River, MA, USA

problem #8

Sep 292005

Santa Fe 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles


On September 29, 2005 I was pulling into a space to park my vehicle I was proceeding at approximately 10 miles per hour or less I applied the brake and it was hard but the vehicle did not stop the car continued to roll into a parked car which received $58.77 worth of damage proceeding home as I approached a red light I slowed down and the brakes did not stop the vehicle I used my emergency brake to stop the car before I rolled into a car stopped at the lights. I had to use the emergency brake twice more getting home, I called Hyundai roadside assisstance to have the vehicle flat bedded to lia Hyundai of enfield upon calling Hyundai roadside assisstance the gentleman told me that their had been a letter sent out about a reprogram to the ABS on Santa Fe's I also contacted Hyundai Consumer Affairs department and informed them of my problem and they told me they would forward me a letter requesting certain things pertaining to my vehicle and the problem I had part of that request was for colored pictures of my vehicle. My wife and I drove to lia and took digital pictures of my vehicle. We found a service bulletin on the front seat of my vehicle Hyundai #04-01-002 dated March 4, 2005 subject (hydraulic electronic control unit hecu reprogramming. This also said it was for 2003 and 2004 my Santa Fe vehicles equipped with 3.5L V6 engines. My vehicle is a 2.7L V6 engine. Their representatives on 11-2-05 to inspected my vehicle I received a letter on Friday 11-25-05 that they found no malfunctions or defects with the brake system. They also said that their inspector was unable to duplicate the condition I indicated caused my accident. My insurance adjuster inspected my vehicle on October 10, 2005 tje inspector's report states that craig the service manager said there is a brake problem and as yet had not been diagnosed. Tech drove vehicle and brake pedal pushed back while trying to stop.

- Springfield, MA, USA

problem #7

Mar 242005

Santa Fe 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 250 miles
Since the purchase of my vehicle, I have experience problems with the ABS system, similar to those included in the recall of the 3.5L Santa Fe's. I know that recalls are VIN specific, but I feel that Hyundai and NHTSA should look into recalling the 2.7L LX Santa Fe also. My concern is that when stopping the ABS will intermittently activate causing the braking distance to increase. When it activates, there is a rumbling noise and vibration and the vehicle will not stop at a safe distance. At many times, I have run through stop signs or entered too far into intersections at red lights due to the brake failure. Sometimes I have to hit a bump or ice for this to occur, but more times than not, I am on a smooth, dry surface when it happens. I have mentioned this to the dealer on more than one occasion and they expect me to believe that this is normal ABS function.

- Riverview, MI, USA

problem #6

Jan 112005

Santa Fe 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 6,500 miles
While driving the brakes failed. Upon applying the brakes, the vehicle continued to coast, the first time this happened. The second time this happened, it resulted in an accident. The consumer contacted the dealer, and was told that there was nothing wrong with the vehicle. A third time resulted in an accident, and the air bag did not deploy. The consumer was injured, and the vehicle was totaled.

- Riverside, IL, USA

problem #5

Oct 012004

Santa Fe 6-cyl

  • 65,000 miles


While driving the brakes failed. Upon applying the brakes vehicle continued to coast. However, it happened again, and an accident occurred. Contacted the dealer, and was told there was nothing wrong with the vehicle. It happened a third time which led to another accident, and the air bags did not deploy. Consumer was injured, and the vehicle was totaled.

- Riverside, IL, USA

problem #4

Aug 202004

Santa Fe 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 13,000 miles
At approx 13,000 miles I noticed a horrible grinding noise while applying brakes at hwy speeds. At first the noise was only present at hwy speeds but then after a couple hundred miles began to appear at all speeds. Dealer stated that a pin fell out causing a caliper to freeze thus causing my brake pads to completely wear out! metal on metal...no brakes and the dealer refused to give me a loaner! just one of many problems with my Santa Fe! I've complained in the past about the ABS kicking in when not needed and the noises and vibration that it makes and was told that it was normal. Now I'm not sure.

- Riverview, MI, USA

problem #3

Apr 152004

Santa Fe 4WD

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
Consumer received NHTSA recall 04V131000 concerning ABS brake failure. On certain sport utility vehicles equipped with 3.5 liter V-6 engines, 4-wheel drive and antilock braking systems (ABS), if the brake pedal is depressed at speeds between 3 and 12 mph when the brake pad friction surfaces are wet, a vibration may occur between the brake discs and pads, causing ABS sensor electronic signal noise to develop. At speeds below 5 mph, the ABS sensor signal noise may cause the ABS electronic control unit (ECU) to activate the ABS, extending the stopping distance. This recall failed, dealer inspected the vehicle several times, but problem recurred.

- Putnam Valley, NY, USA

problem #2

Mar 122004

Santa Fe 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 28,000 miles
Slowing down on a decline the car ran over a rough poprtion of road, the ABS engaged (clicking sound) and the bake pedal went to the floor - car did not stop. Dealer stated that there is a bulletin on this but no fix as of yet.

- Pocono Lake, PA, USA

problem #1

Oct 132003

Santa Fe 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 1,200 miles
Vehicle has had a high pitched whine at 35 mph, coasting, accelerating, or braking. Noticeable to all drivers/passengers, but not to dealer technician/service manager. Have had it in three times with no condition found. As time goes by I am noticing that along with the noise, the brakes feel weak and I need only move my ankle without taking my foot off the pedal and the vehicle will move. On two separate occaisions when the vehicle was parked in my driveway for an extended period in the rain, it would not stop as I backed out of my driveway. I reprorted it to Hyundai, and went back to dealer to have it checked and was told (without looking at the car) by dealer service manager that there was nothing wrong with it and I am wasting their time and would have to pay to have it examined. Factory representative who has never even seen the vehicle called to say there is no problem with my car and I need to learn how to use antilock brakes correctly ( I do know how to use them, I've always stopped when I press the brake pedal so I have a good idea of what to expect). Hyundai customer assistance representative barbara 800 633 5151 X45017 file#785260 never got anything accomplished on my behalf and never called back, never did anything to resolve this matter. I am concerned the car will not stop when I want it to so I only use it when absolutely necessary, not exactly what a new car is meant for. On top of all of that I cannot go to the nearest dealer as they will not look at it under Hyundai's often mentioned 5 year bumper to bumper warranty.

- Quincy, MA, USA

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