really awful
Crashes / Fires:
5 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
54,307 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 engine problems

engine problem

Find something helpful? Spread the word.
Get notified about new defects, investigations, recalls & lawsuits for the 2003 Hyundai Santa Fe:

Unsubscribe any time. We don't sell/share your email.

2003 Hyundai Santa Fe Owner Comments

problem #19

May 132016

Santa Fe

  • 67,000 miles


The contact owns a 2003 Hyundai Santa Fe. While at a completed stop, the vehicle independently accelerated without warning. The contact had to depress the brake pedal to stop the vehicle. The failure occurred on multiple occasions. The vehicle was taken to the dealer for diagnostic testing;, however, the failure could not be duplicated. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was not made aware of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 67,000.

- Rockville, MD, USA

problem #18

May 312016

Santa Fe

  • 110,000 miles
Random unintended gradual acelleration. Happens at any speed. Feels like when you resume cruise control to a higher speed. Except it doesn"T stop and continues acellerating. Though it may not be related to the cruise control at all. Pumping the gas pedal once stops the acelleration. Although last time it took 2 tries. Can live with it. So far anyway. But don't want to sell it without fixing the problem. The Hyundai dealership is no help. Happens maybe 3 or 4 times a week (100 miles).

- Phillipston, MA, USA

problem #17

May 152014

Santa Fe 6-cyl

  • 95,000 miles
The accelerator pedal position sensor had just been replaced. Three blocks from the mechanic, while stopped at a red light, the vehicle unexpectedly increased acceleration. The brake pedal was applied to no avail. The E-brake was applied. Vehicle kept lurching forward against the restraint, then died. Ten minutes later, vehicle started and was returned to mechanic to avoid accident or injury. No cause has yet been found. Approximate mileage was 95,000.

- Oakland, CA, USA

problem #16

Jan 162013

Santa Fe

  • 70,000 miles


The contact owns a 2003 Hyundai Santa Fe. The contact stated that while parking the vehicle and applying the brakes, the vehicle accelerated and crashed into a building. The contact was not injured however, a police report was filed of the incident. The vehicle was not inspected for the cause of the acceleration failure. The manufacturer was not contacted. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure mileage was 70,000.

- Plainfield, IL, USA

problem #15

Dec 092012

Santa Fe

  • 99,606 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Hyundai Santa Fe. The contact stated that while driving 35 mph the vehicle accelerated independently. The contact then engaged the emergency brake, causing the vehicle to stall. The vehicle was towed to the dealer for diagnosis. The contact took the vehicle to the dealer and the failure recurred. The vehicle was diagnosed with a stuck throttle. The throttle, brakes and rotors were all replaced. The manufacturer was not notified. The failure and current mileage was 99,606.

- Woodhaven, NY, USA

problem #14

Jun 282012

Santa Fe

  • 80,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Hyundai Santa Fe. The contact stated that while driving approximately 35 mph, the vehicle unexpectedly increased acceleration. The brake pedal was applied repeatedly; however failed to reduce speed and crashed into the proceeding vehicle. There were no personal injuries and a police report was filed of the incident. The vehicle sustained minor damage to the front end bumper and was not towed. The manufacturer was not notified of the problem. The approximate failure mileage was 80,000.

- Allison Park , PA, USA

problem #13

Nov 152011

Santa Fe

  • 99,714 miles


The contact owns a 2003 Hyundai Santa Fe. The contact stated that while driving 25 mph, the vehicle suddenly accelerated without warning. The vehicle was taken to a local mechanic who diagnosed that the failure was caused by a fractured cruise control cable. The manufacturer was not made aware of the failure and the vehicle was repaired. The failure and the current mileage was 99,714.

- Bryant , AR, USA

problem #12

Oct 312011

Santa Fe 6-cyl

  • 84,500 miles
My vehicle experienced unintended acceleration while traveling down a busy road traveling at a speed of 55 mph. The vehicle did not slow down while applying the brakes at full force. The vehicle did eventually slow down to a speed of about 40-45 mph at which point I was able to successfully make a right hand turn at that speed! once off the main highway, I was able to shift the car into neutral and turn it off to a complete stop! the vehicle was towed to the nearest Hyundai dealership. A diagnosis was made that the accelerator cable assembly was damaged and needed to be replaced. At this time, the repair has not been completed as the dealership cannot have the part there until Thursday, which is 3 days after the incident occurred! I cannot stress enough how dangerous and scary this situation was! luckily, this time, no one was injured or killed, but the potential for that outcome was definitely there. I have seen other reports of this occurring with this model vehicle. I hope Hyundai takes responsibility to permanently correct this potentially live threatening issue!

- Fountain Hills, AZ, USA

problem #11

Jun 112010

Santa Fe 6-cyl

  • miles
Please reference the original complaint that was filed in June 2010. The ref. No. is 10351059. The above vehicle is still exhibiting "unintended acceleration" and Hyundai refuses to acknowledge that there is a problem with this vehicle and other like vehicles. Since the original complaint the vehicle has had "unintended acceleration" about 10 times. Whoever drives the vehicle always keeps their hand on the shift control and shifts into neutral when coming to a stop at an intersection. We may be contacted by phone for more information concerning this problem.

- Minneapolis, MN, USA

problem #10

Jun 012010

Santa Fe 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 136,000 miles
I have experienced my 4th incident of sudden unintended acceleration on my 2003 Hyundai Santa Fe. I have reported this to you three times before. I am concerned that I may injure myself or another person when this happens. I now drive with my hand on the shift lever and put the car into neutral when nearing any possible situation where I could hit another car or a pedestrian. I am becoming so adept at this maneuver that last time it happened I put it in neutral automatically. I was badly shaken, but nothing serious happened. I have reported this to Hyundai America and they are not concerned. They have inspected the problem and claim that the car is safe to drive. The consumer stated she had already been driving for a few hours, so the engine was warm. The cruise control was on and she was headed up a mountain highway, when suddenly the vehicle lunged forward, increasing in speed as she was cresting the hill. As she headed down, braking, the tachometer continued to widely go up and down and the engine was revving up. Once she pulled over, the vehicle stalled. The vehicle was towed to the dealer. They downloaded a computer upgrade and over the next 4-5 weeks on occasion, the vehicle would stall at low speeds. According to the invoice, the throttle position sensor was replaced. Updated IVOQ 11/03/10

- Minneapolis, MN, USA

problem #9

Apr 302010

Santa Fe

  • 80,000 miles


I've owned my 2003 Hyundai Santa Fe since July 2003 and I have been mostly pleased with the vehicle. On 4/30/10, I left home for a trip to another town approximately 100 miles from home. The trip was mostly on an expressway traveling at speeds of 60 - 70 miles per hour. As I neared my destination, I got off the expressway, onto a surface road. Within 1 mile of being on the road, I was changing lanes and sensed my car "pulling" me, while I was lightly breaking. I looked down to ensure that neither my foot, floormat or anything else was touching the accelerator pedal. There was no explainable reason for the acceleration. However, by keeping more foot on the brake, I was able to control the car enough to pull into a parking lot. I stopped the car, and put in park. The engine whined loudly. But I was able to turn it off. Over the next 30 minutes I tried several times to start the car and see of the throttle would somehow reset itself. But each time, the engine raced loudly. I chose to have the vehicle towed to the nearest Hyundai dealership. They determined that a throttle sensor had shorted out. The part was replaced and I was given back the vehicle on 5/8/10. The vehicle ha seemed to operate normally since then.

- Miami, FM, USA

problem #8

Jul 182006

Santa Fe 6-cyl

  • 22,112 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Hyundai Santa Fe. While driving approximately 25 mph, the vehicle began to jerk. Suddenly, the engine stalled without warning and the vehicle failed to restart. There were no warning indicators illuminated on the instrument panel. Roadside assistance was called to the scene and the vehicle was towed to an authorized dealer for diagnostic testing. The mechanic stated that the throttle position sensor failed, which was replaced at that time. The vehicle was taken back to the dealer on a separate occasion for the same failure. The throttle position sensor was replaced again; however, the failure still persists. The vehicle is currently at the dealer. The failure mileage was 22,112 and current mileage was 41,496. Updated 08/27/09 updated 08/31/09.

- Port Charlotte, FL, USA

problem #7

Nov 302006

Santa Fe 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 47,896 miles
At approximately 47,000 miles, check engine light came on. In addition, vehicle experienced a sudden occasional jump in idle to 3000 RPM+ while in park and drive after three minutes or so of operation. While in drive, vehicle lunges dangerously forward. When this occurs, ignition is turned off, and restart takes several attempts. After restarting, the vehicle will sputter and refuse to accelerate normally for 30-60 seconds. Vehicle also stalls occasionally after 3 minutes or so of use when accelerating from a full stop. Vehicle was brought to napelton Hyundai, West palm beach, fl on Nov 30. Crankshaft position sensor and camshaft sensor were replaced. Before leaving dealership with service manager present and automatic transmission in park, vehicle idle suddenly spiked to 4,200 RPM. I was told dealer was closed, and to drive it home. On December 5, vehicle again stalled again in traffic at intersection almost causing a collision. After restarting, it refused to accelerate normally for 30-60 seconds. Vehicle was towed to back to napelton Hyundai because both the stalling and sudden acceleration are serious concerns that make this Santa Fe unsafe to operate. The service manager agreed fully that the vehicle was unsafe to drive. On Dec 20 I was advised that the vehicle was not repaired because attempts to duplicate the problems were unsuccessful. I was told to pick it up and drive it. I refused to do so. Napelton had over 20 days to detect and correct these major safety issues, and I will not drive Hyundai's failure into an accident. A review of NHTSA defects reported for this Santa Fe for 2003-2005 model years reveals over 40 similar incidents, some involving collision and injury. These are categorized under several different components including vehicle speed control, electrical system, vehicle speed control: Accelerator pedal, other, power train: Automatic transmission, and equipment. Perhaps the Santa Fe's can be recalled before deaths result.

- Palm Beach Gardens, FL, USA

problem #6

Aug 212005

Santa Fe 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 34,000 miles
Very similar to complaint 10128836. (recently purchased 2003 2.7L V-6) (1) vehicle bucked violently between 70 - 75 mph twice in the last 2 days. No bucking at lower speeds (SUV is seldom driven on the freeway, so this may be limited to a higher speed problem) (2) stalled while waiting (for about 2 minutes at a stop light the same day one of the bucking incidents occurred. Ambient temp was 96 deg and ac was working hard. (3) 1 incident of vehicle surging forward with foot lightly on the brake. (4) lcd clock works only on occasion dealer has not been contacted yet - I don't know if he can duplicate.

- Houston, TX, USA

problem #5

Jun 012005

Santa Fe

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
On various occassions the spedometer will cease working while driving affecting the cruise control. Also, car sometimes feels like it's slipping out of gear while driving. Occassionally, while car is idling, car will shut down with no warning.

- Peachtree City, GA, USA

problem #4

Jun 132004

Santa Fe 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 2,000 miles
We purchased our 2003 Hyundai sante fe November of 2003. It is a 2003 model with a 3.5 liter engine. After having the car a couple of months, we started having a lurching problem when sitting at stop light. It would feel as if someone bumped into you from the rear. We brought the car in and were told that this was due to an ABS problem. They serviced the car for the recalls that were current, and explained to us that they could not duplicate the problem, but it should be ok now with the recall servicing they had done. The car continued to have the problem, doing it several times a day. Just recently I was parked in a parking lot. I started the car, applied my foot to the brake and shifted the car into reverse. The car engine suddenly revved very loudly, and the car lurched backwards about 6 feet, almost hitting some people who were parked behind me in the opposite spaces, putting groceries in their car. I had to place a lot of pressure on the brake to avoid the car going further than the six feet before the engine stopped revving. The car is now at the dealer, whom I hope will be able to help with the issue.

- Orland Park, IL, USA

problem #3

Nov 142003

(reported on)

Santa Fe

  • 4,000 miles
On 3 separate occasions vehicle revved and accelerated while at a complete stop but idling. Consumer's foot was depressed on the brake pedal at the time of these incidents. On the third occasion it resulted in a rear end collision.

- Huntington Station, NY, USA

problem #2

Aug 272003

Santa Fe

  • miles
Vehicle was parked and without prior warning it suddenly jumped out of gear, accelerating up to 55 mph. Upon uncontrollable acceleration consumer's vehicle collided with another vehicle.

- Green Valley, DC, USA

problem #1

Aug 272003

Santa Fe

  • miles
Vehicle was parked and without prior warning it suddenly jumped out of gear and accelerated to 55 mph. As a result the consumer's vehicle collided with another vehicle.

- Unknown, DC, USA

Not what you are looking for?