Notes: The 2011 Hyundai Santa Fe has a problem with the engine stalling while driving. Both our data & the NHTSA's complaint data show a significant defect trend at low mileage.

In a 2-page letter sent August 2014 to Santa Fe owners, Hyundai claims the engine stalling only occurs under a "specific set of operating conditions".

However a class action lawsuit filed around the same time details multiple claims from Sante Fe owners that claim the engine stalling happens at any time, under any conditions.


really awful
Crashes / Fires:
3 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
3 / 0
Average Mileage:
25,710 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 Santa Fe engine problems

engine problem

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2011 Hyundai Santa Fe Owner Comments

problem #20

Dec 252016

Santa Fe

  • 72,150 miles


2011 Hyundai Santa Fe stalls, loses power, will not accelerate, gives no warning. This could cause a major accident and multiple deaths. This happens suddenly while driving along city streets and highways and while turning.

- South Bend, IN, USA

problem #19

Nov 182015

Santa Fe

  • 54,000 miles
While driving at a rate of less than 5-10 mpg in heavy traffic on the 105 West freeway. The car suddenly lost power steering abilities and all power in the vehicle without notification lights or any other strange peculiarities. Both the check engine and oil lights went on. I managed to pull over with whatever residual power remaining as not to impede traffic but it was a terrifying struggle. The gears were also locked and unable to shift. I turned off the ignition and restarted the car. All the lights on the dashboard cleared and there are no diagnostics on the computer that reflect this problem. It is unknown what is causing the issue. Months prior (6 months) I was driving at a higher rate of speed (approx 30 mph) on the same freeway, early morning, and the same problem also happened. This could have caused me to be rear ended badly or worse.

- Hawthorne, CA, USA

problem #18

Oct 042015

Santa Fe

  • 64,200 miles
In October of this year, my 2011 Hyundai Santa Fe lost all acceleration and the malfunction light came on while I was in the left lane of a major highway going the speed limit of 70 mph. I was able to pull over to the right and get to safety, but it was a very dangerous situation and I and many others could have been killed. The same thing happened in 2012 and they supposedly fixed it. Since the first incident, there have been a couple of recalls dealing with this issue. I think it deals with the throttle body and the idle system. Obviously it is still a very dangerous car to drive. I believe you need to investigate this before someone dies.

- Strawberry Plains, TN, USA

problem #17

Oct 082015

Santa Fe

  • 40,000 miles


The contact owns a 2011 Hyundai Santa Fe. The contact stated that after depressing the brake pedal, the vehicle experienced a period of unintended acceleration. As a result, the contact crashed into a brick wall. Prior to the failure, the vehicle was repaired under NHTSA campaign number: 13V113000 (exterior lighting, service brakes, hydraulic). The vehicle was destroyed. A police report was filed. The contact sustained burns from the air bag and a neck injury which required medical attention. The manufacturer was not notified of the failure. The failure mileage was 40,000. The VIN was not available. Updated 01/12/16

- Chicago, IL, USA

problem #16

Nov 252014

Santa Fe 4-cyl

  • 51,000 miles
Vehicle stalled when leaving stop light lost speed would not accelerate have read other complaints on line some are afraid to drive vehicles I agree saftey is an issue dealer or manufacture cannot find solution to problem.

- Elmwood Park, IL, USA

problem #15

Aug 022011

Santa Fe

  • 6,000 miles
The contact owns a 2011 Hyundai Santa Fe. While attempting to accelerate from a stationary position, the vehicle hesitated to move. The failure occurred on multiple occasions. The dealer was unable to duplicate the failure. The manufacturer was not notified. The VIN was not available. The failure mileage was 6,000.

- Hubbard , OR, USA

problem #14

Jan 022012

Santa Fe 6-cyl

  • 3,000 miles


This problem has been going on since we bought it. It happens at least 2-3 times a month. It is most noticeable when stopped on a slight incline, but has occurred on a level street. The car doesn't respond when the accelerator is pressed. After several attempts, the car lunges forward. If on an incline, the car rolls backwards. I have to keep my left foot on the brake now and press the accelerator with the right foot. The dealer has not been able to duplicate.

- Highland, CA, USA

problem #13

May 092012

Santa Fe

  • 8,000 miles
This car hesitates at least once a week. I am getting afraid to drive it. While sitting at a light and I start to go I turn the wheel and the car hesitates and lunges forward and I have to step on the brake to slow it down. My foot is not stuck on the pedal and the carpet is not doing anything. I went on line and looked up my car Santa Fe hesitations. I must of read twenty articles on the same problem I have. Not only this year but a lot of other years of the Santa Fe. They are having the same problem. It happens like once a week.. it's scary.other people have went to Hyundai and where told nothing was wrong. Please get me an answer. Thank you.

- Brooklyn, NY, USA

problem #12

Apr 042013

Santa Fe

  • 15,323 miles
Brought car in for service about problems with cruise control, airbag on passenger side, bad smudge mark on windshield on passenger side which dealer could not fix after several tries but never wrote up a service order. When car is set at 50mph and we are coming to a left turn I turn on left turn signal car lurches forward at very high claims because on incline, but I do it without turn signal does not speed up. Airbag passenger side intermittent dealer claims cannot find problem. Also white powder shows up on dashboard above glove compartment, we wipe it off comes back possiblyleak in airbag passenger side dealer claims not possible. Thought dealer should have fixed windshield under 5 yr warranty? also noticed 2014 Hyundai sport they scanned me into buying has problem with airbag passenger side off light stays on.

- Simi Valley, CA, USA

problem #11

Jul 132013

Santa Fe 4-cyl

  • 44,012 miles
While accelerating from a traffic light, vehicle dropped speed while I accelerated. It coasted along at 1-2 miles an hour. The check engine, antilock brake and 4 wheel drive 'skid' indicators all lit up on the dash board. I had to guide the vehicle to a safe stop by the side of the road after clearing a dangerous intersection. This has occurred four additional times after the dealership assured me this problem had been rectified. It is presently at the dealership after having been towed in for the fifth (5th) time. This car needs to be replaced by the dealer.

- Dix Hills, NY, USA

problem #10

Nov 112013

Santa Fe

  • 15,600 miles


I was driving my Hyundai 2011 sante fe at about 30 mph on a city road. Suddenly, I felt that I was cut off, there was no control on brake or the steering wheel (both were too hard to operate). So, all I could do was to drive straight, and I was literally crossing some busy streets (luckily, there were no cars when I was crossing these streets) on red signals, with my blinkers on. Luckily, my co-passenger kept cool and suggested if I could operate my parking brake, and I tried this, and my car slowly came to a complete stop. At this moment, I put my car on park, turned off the engine. When I turned it back on, I drove back to a safe place (in a mile), called road side assistance and got it towed to the nearest Hyundai dealer. The dealer found no major breakdown (!!!) or any inactive log on the car computer (!!!), only replaced a brake light (which was under recall for a couple of months) and declared the car to be 'safe to drive'. it is still very scary to drive the car (it has been about a week now after this incident), but not sure if Hyundai will have an answer to this.

- Beachwood, OH, USA

problem #9

Jul 042013

Santa Fe 6-cyl

  • 26,000 miles
Twice, the engine has shut off, while trying to accelerate from an idle or stopped position. Luckily, both incidents were in an empty parking lot. The engine simply stopped running and I had to put it into parking gear, and restart the engine.

- Mission Viejo, CA, USA

problem #8

Jun 112013

Santa Fe 6-cyl

  • miles
On June 11, 2013 I was driving my 2011 Hyundai Santa Fe. I was in a parking lot and had pulled into a parking place. I was stopped and putting my car into park. As I reach neutral my car accelerated fast...this was more then a lunge forward, it was more like a power surge. My car continued forward at a very fast speed, despite my braking ( there were skid marks) and hit a wall. I ended up with lots of massive bruising and sprained muscles. Plus I was very frightened. There was lots of damage to my car. It was towed to the dealership, where I purchased it. It is sill in their body shop. A few days after the accident I checked the internet to see if anyone else had this problem. There were lots & lots of examples of this, sudden unintended acceleration problem, with the 2011 Santa Fe. I don't see any responses from Hyundai. This problem has to be dealt with.

- Forest Hill, MD, USA

problem #7

Jul 252012

Santa Fe

  • 21,000 miles
The contact owns a 2011 Hyundai Santa Fe. The contact was driving approximately 40 mph when the accelerator pedal was depressed and the vehicle abnormally decelerated to 5 mph. The vehicle was maneuvered to the side of the road and towed to an authorized dealer. The dealer updated the computer system however, the failure recurred. The second time the vehicle was taken to the dealer, the accelerator block was replaced. The failure was not corrected however, and the vehicle was taken back to the dealer where the contact was awaiting diagnosis. The manufacturer was not notified of the problem. The approximate failure mileage was 21,000.

- Warren, CT, USA

problem #6

Feb 062013

Santa Fe 6-cyl

  • 24,242 miles
I backed out of a parking spot and made contact with something which I could not see from my rear view or side view mirrors. Later, when the emergency workers were loading me into the ambulance, I would see that the object was a low, cement pole, which protected a fire hydrant directly behind the parking spot I pulled out of. As I put the vehicle in gear (drive) with my foot on the brake, to pull away from whatever I backed in to, the engine revved and the vehicle accelerated on its own. The vehicle lurched forward (the best way to describe it is the way a pinball bounces off of a bumper on a pinball machine) and continued moving forward, even though my foot was still on the brake pedal. The vehicle drove forward into the parking spot I had started from, over a curb at the front of the parking spot, through a patch of low lying plants and over a wall which is approximately four to five feet in height. My vehicle was airborne and came to rest in the lower level parking lot, striking a parked vehicle. It was only then that the vehicle stopped its forward motion. My arms had been locked on the steering wheel, my right foot on the brake pedal. My left leg absorbed the impact of the crash into the lower level parking lot. I was taken away in an ambulance with a broken leg and severely dislocated ankle. The vehicle has been deemed a total loss by my insurance carrier. I was advised that a claims investigator was sent to the insurance-company-authorized collision shop to where my vehicle was towed. Even though the emergency workers advised on the night of the accident that the car was not in a drivable condition, I was advised by my insurance company that the investigator drove the vehicle in the parking lot of the collision shop and he was not able to replicate the unintended acceleration.

- Lynnwood, WA, USA

problem #5

Dec 222012

Santa Fe 6-cyl

  • 21,401 miles
While traveling approx 55 mph, I hit a fairly significant pothole. The check engine light immediately came on and, at the very same instant, the gas pedal ceased to function. The engine remained running, however the gas pedal had no affect - e.g. pressing the gas pedal did nothing. I immediately pulled onto the shoulder and brought the vehicle to a complete stop. The engine continued to idle and, after letting up on the brake, the vehicle moved forward on its own at approx 20 mph, more than expected under normal idle conditions. This condition lasted for approx 5 min until I could pull into a parking lot. I shut the engine off, waited a moment, then restarted it. At this point the gas pedal was functioning as expected, but the check engine light remained on. The vehicle was repaired at the dealer who notified me of an existing technical service bulletin, #12-fl-004, from Hyundai. They also indicated this was a "known issue" relating to the "ECM software."

- Cockeysville, MD, USA

problem #4

Apr 162012

Santa Fe

  • 26,000 miles
The contact owns a 2011 Hyundai Santa Fe. The contact stated that the vehicle hesistated when accelerating. The contact stated that after a brief hesitation the vehicle took off. The contact had taken the vehicle to the dealer four times, but the dealer had not been able to duplicate the failure. The contact believed the problem was related to the throttle, but the dealer would not replace it without diagnosing the problem. The failure mileage was 26,000 and the current mileage was 32,000.

- Fort Falley, GA, USA

problem #3

Oct 302012

Santa Fe 6-cyl

  • 21,800 miles
This has happened at last monthly since purchase in August 2011. When attempting to stop placement of accelerator and brake pedals causes my foot to press both pedals at same time. Yesterday when I attempted to stop at a "T" intersection the front end entered the intersection as another vehicle was approaching. Quick action by the other driver avoided a collision. My brother said he had same problem (foot on both pedals at same time) when test driving his wife's Santa Fe.

- Bourne, MA, USA

problem #2

Dec 192011

Santa Fe 6-cyl

  • 475 miles
On December 19,2011 I was slowing down coming to a stop sign and on or about the time as I put my foot on the brake pedal the motor started racing out of control. I put all my weight on the brake pedal to stop the car, then slammed the gear into park and turned the motor off. I then had the car towed to the dealership. The dealership did diagnostic testing and found nothing wrong with the car and said the car was safe to drive. Reluctantly, I accepted the car back. On February 6, 2012 the same incident of the motor racing out of control happened when I slowed down coming to a stop sign. I again put all my weight on the brake pedal and put the car in neutral and then turned off the motor. The car was again towed to the dealership. I called Hyundai corporate offices and advised them of the two incidents of the motor racing out of control. They suggested that the local dealership have a service technician drive the car for about 250 miles to see if this "racing motor" incident would happen again. I agreed to their recommendation. On February 11,2012 the local dealership technician who drove my the car for 250 miles called me and said the motor racing out of control not happen again. He said he did re-program the computer and I could pick up the car. He said the car was safe to drive, but I fear this unsafe incident could happen again and Hyundai needs to take action to remedy this serious problem and prevent any future injuries from happening.

- Baltimore, MD, USA

problem #1

Dec 062011

Santa Fe 6-cyl

  • miles
Stopped on a slope 5-20 ft. Long (up or down), remove right foot from brake pedal to accelerator pedal and attempt to accelerate into traffic- Santa Fe will barely move forward regardless how much accelerator pedal is depressed or "pumped" then: Suddenly will spin front tires-accelerating very rapidly. This has happened a minimum of 25 times. Very dangerous situation when attempting to enter a busy street, road or highway. Dealer unable to find code errors nor could they duplicate the problem. Complained to dealer service twice about this serious and dangerous situation. Manufacturer needs to get involved in this random, dangerous condition when owner/operator cannot feel safe and confident this SUV will reliably accelerate from a complete stop on a short slope as it should each and every time.

- Landrum, SC, USA

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