really awful
Crashes / Fires:
1 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
50,901 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 #9

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 #8

Jan 152011

Santa Fe

  • 99,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Hyundai Santa Fe. When stopped while applying pressure to the brake, the vehicle jerked forward. The contact stated the failure occurred constantly. The vehicle was taken to the dealer where the technicians could not diagnose or duplicate the failure. The vehicle was not repaired. The VIN was unavailable. The approximate failure mileage was 99,000. Updated 03/08/11 updated 1/4/11

- Malden, MA, USA

problem #7

Apr 042010

Santa Fe

  • 95,899 miles
While driving to work, vehicle in front of me stopped abruptly, I stepped hard on the brake pedal I was going approx. 30 mph, the brake pedal pulsated ( ABS activating) for a second or 2 and stopped, and the brake pedal suddenly sank to the floor, the vehicle kept going, I pulled the emergency brake to try to stop, but it was too late I ran into the vehicle in front of me causing considerable damage to both vehicles. I contacted Hyundai dealer and was told it is not a defect and also is not under warranty. I now have to have the car fixed at my own expense. I feel a recall by Hyundai should be initiated since this seems to be common defect, please help!

- Lindenhurst, NY, USA

problem #6

Jun 042008

Santa Fe

  • 50,300 miles


2003 Hyundai Santa Fe. Left front outer brake pad friction material fell out and was found on ground. Serviced front brakes and found 3 of 4 pads friction material broken away from steel backer. Same condition found on rear pads. Front pads had approx 20% friction material left and rear has approx 50%. backer plates heavily rusted indicating parting of friction material occurred some time ago. I lucked out by not having to strongly apply the brakes after the pad fell out and before I discovered it. Drove approx 20 miles with the pad missing and steel backer did not touch the rotor (don't understand that). I have all parts if anyone wishes to examine them.

- Sunbury, OH, USA

problem #5

Dec 092007

Santa Fe 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 145,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Hyundai Santa Fe. While driving 4 mph, the brake pedal extended to the floor or within an inch of the floor when it was depressed. When he pumped the pedal, it resumed the proper position. Throughout the day, the brake pedal would extend approximately two inches from the floor when it was depressed. If he stomped on the brake pedal, it would go all the way down as well. Midas stated that they could find no failure and that it was a "Hyundai problem". the master cylinder, brake pads, and fluid were cited to be functioning properly. The purchase date was unknown. The current mileage was 148,000 and failure mileage was 145,000.

- Monson, MA, USA

problem #4

Oct 012004

Santa Fe

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
While applying brakes vehicle made a very loud noise. When taken to get serviced the cause could not be determined.

- Port Charlotte, FL, USA

problem #3

Jan 032004

Santa Fe 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 5,450 miles


ABS pump initiated unnecessarily. While pump was running, braking power was lost and vehicle failed to stop, coasting through intersection. Vehicle was eventually stopped by shifting transmission into neutral and using hand brake.

- Murrysville, PA, USA

problem #2

Oct 082003

Santa Fe 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 1,458 miles
While driving at low speeds, the consumer heard a grinding noise when the brakes were applied and then the brake released after stopping and vehicle continued to roll. The consumer had to apply more pressure to the brake pedal to stop the vehicle.

- Naugatuck, CT, USA

problem #1

Jan 072003

(reported on)

Santa Fe

  • miles
Consumer had extened stopping. Please provide any additional information.

- La Palma, CA, USA

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