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:
5 / 1
Injuries / Deaths:
2 / 0
Average Mileage:
38,336 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 drivetrain problems

drivetrain problem

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2011 Hyundai Sonata Owner Comments (Page 4 of 5)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #25

Sep 032012


  • 23,000 miles


I have several complaints regarding this vehicle. I have had this car two years and about two months and have had nothing but problems (purchased brand new) -- I've had to get a new motor (engine caught on fire (electrical/smoking) while driving down the beltway), replaced tire rod, need 4 brand new tires, transmission slipping, and other electrical problems with cooling/heating system (the blower does not work for air pointed in the floor direction), strong smell of gas fumes inside of the vehicle. The gas mileage gauge is inaccurate -- I get no where near the highway nor city miles. The gas meter is not registering. Parts on the electrical system have been randomly replaced. I have had all schedule services on my vehicle as well as extras such as special replacement filters, etc. I have also had problems with the breaking system. I believe I've purchased a complete lemon. The current mileage on the vehicle is 27700 miles. There is no way I should be having this many problems as frequently as I have been having. The car's steering pulls to the left as well. I should not have to replace tires only after two years of driving after putting nitrogen as advised. I've noticed a noise when turning the steering to the left as well as if the left tire rod or axle wants to break -- weird feeling turn the car. The alarm system is failing to lock all of the doors -- only the drivers door. -- dealers solution...purchase a new one "?? really"

- Forestville, MD, USA

problem #24

Dec 172012

Sonata 4-cyl

  • 13,000 miles
The car is a year old. As the passenger was turning left traveling approx 25-30mph the car started to shake violently and then the wheel came off the front passenger side. The control arm assembly failed allowing the whole wheel/drive assembly to come off slamming the front right side of the car down, yanking the car toward oncoming traffic.

- Tyler, TX, USA

problem #23

Jun 052012


  • 22,000 miles
The contact owns a 2011 Hyundai Sonata. The contact stated that while driving, the vehicle hesitated to accelerate as the contact depressed the acceleration pedal. The vehicle was taken to the dealer inspection where it was advised that there was a failure with the fuel pump. The fuel pump was replaced. The contact stated that the vehicle surged when driving and pulled to one side abnormally. The vehicle was taken to dealer who stated that the transmission needed to be replaced. The failure mileage was 22,000 and the current mileage was 28,710.

- Edmond, OK, USA

problem #22

Sep 082011

Sonata 4-cyl

  • 25,734 miles


My skid light warning light kept coming on. They said a brake lamp switch was pulling a fault code, so they replaced it. Nine months later my skid light warning was randomly coming on again. They ran a test again saying it was a faulty brake lamp switch again. Before I could get it in for repairs the transmission range sensor malfunction on Aug 14 2012. Picked up my car again and the skid traction warning light came on again. I took it in again this time the tcs light was on and the shifter was not releasing.they tested the brake switch circuit and found no power to the brake switch. They replaced the fuse box and harness cable. I have called three different dealerships service departments and they all say there is a problem with the brake lamp switch causing the tcs warning light to come on. If it is effecting other cars there most be a national problem and should be a recall before there is a fatality. I have had this car for 2 years now and had it in for electrical problems over eight times.

- Broomfield, CO, USA

problem #21

Mar 142012


  • 13,000 miles
I have an automatic transmission 2011 Hyundai Sonata gls, and the car seems to have trouble shifting gears. It does not happen all the time - maybe about once or twice a week, usually on my way to work or coming home from work. I reverse out of my driveway at home and reverse out of my parking spot at work. I turn my car on and shift my car into reverse, I hear a thump and a very slight lunge without ever taking my foot off of the brake. When I shift it to forward drive, it shifts as it should. Then, as I press on the gas pedal from 0-20 mph, the vehicle seems to lurch into the next gear. It lurches again when I speed up to 30-40 mph. As I travel on the interstate between 40-80 mph, I can feel the car lurch into a lower and higher gears as I let my foot off the gas pedal and accelerate. It is usually temporarily fixed by turning the engine off and then back on again. When I say "lurch", it feels like the car decreases speed for a split second and then resumes proper speed quickly. It's been going on for about three or four months, but since the weird gear shifting happens so rarely, I didn't think to look it up and do some internet research until now. It appears like a good amount of people are having this same problem.

- Metairie, LA, USA

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problem #20

Jul 092012

Sonata 4-cyl

  • 28,212 miles
3X the driver window button is inoperable. Would turn off car and then it would again work. The worst issue is this: Started up car this morning 7-9-12 (this is the 3rd occurrence) and the doors do not lock, then I put it in reverse and it goes about 2 feet and it applies the brakes. I noticed each time the gear console does not light up. The car actually does not go into gear. Each time I have turned off the ignition and restarted it and it works fine. It's going to the shop for the 30K check up and this will be brought up. The drivers window has been brought up and the dealer has said there was no problem. Wrong. There is when it doesn't work. I had one of these in 2001 and it too had electrical issues. My neighbor just sold their 05 Sonata due to electrical issues.

- Winchester, KY, USA

problem #19

Oct 042011


  • 18,000 miles


My brand new 2011 Hyundai Sonata 2.4L gls engine blew up at 18,000 miles on I-10, 670 miles from our home. We had the car fully serviced prior to our trip, 10 days to be exact. This was the second long distant road trip, with this new car. We almost lost our life. What saved us was an exit we were approaching at the time, and experience driving. It sounded like parts was flying in every direction. This story would not have gotten out if we were dead. But, we are alive and well and ready to tell the world our story. Up set and confused at that moment the car stopped, we just could not believe that a brand new car would blow an engine. The tow truck towed the vehicle to the nearest Hyundai dealership close by 15 miles away. The dealer service manager looked at the car and determines the engine must be replace. He called to order a new engine. The engine for 2011 Sonata 2.4L gls was second or third in line on the back order list. I was so very wrong about Hyundai motors Inc. After the dealership got us back on the road we were forgotten. All the complaints and reports I found on the internet made me angry that all this information was not in the media sooner to alert people before they took a bite of that rotten pretty shiny apple like me and my opinion, of an old mechanic, this engine is a time bomb.

- Lake Worth, FL, USA

problem #18

Dec 132011


  • 12,000 miles
The engine failed to start. When you press on the start pedal, it would "lock" up and not recognize the automatic key in the vehicle. Took it to a dealer who said the brake switch needed replacing. Now, at the end of April, again, it is happening. It is going in again this week for the same situation. Also at the same time the ESC electronic stability control light goes on randomly and stays on until the engine is restarted. I used the override procedure someone else mentioned to get the car going -- depress and hold the brake pedal for 30 seconds. Even once the engine started, the gear shift remained stuck in park and took awhile to take it out of this position. When I was idling in park today, the same thing happened which told me the situation was getting worse.

- Coopersburg, PA, USA

problem #17

Apr 022012


  • 2,000 miles
The contact owned a 2011 Hyundai Sonata. The contact stated that while driving 25 mph, the vehicle down shifted and the steering wheel seized. As a result, the driver crossed into another lane and crashed into another vehicle. The contact stated that no warning lamps illuminated. A police report was filed and the driver of the other vehicle sustained a minor injury. The vehicle was destroyed. The manufacturer was not made aware of the failure. The failure and current mileages were 2,000.

- Pelham, NY, USA

problem #16

Nov 042010

Sonata 4-cyl

  • 8,102 miles
Purchased brand new on June 18, 2010 for my wife... Hyundai Sonata gs. Shortly after purchasing the vehicle, we began experiencing problems with the car jerking/bucking/slipping in all gears at all speeds (random occurrence) even when the vehicle is traveling at a steady speed while using cruise control. The vehicle has been taken to the dealership here in douglasville, ga six times for repair which has included replacement of the transmission, reprogramming of the PCM, and replacement of the tcm. None of these attempts at repair have fixed the issue. My wife is the primary driver of this vehicle and has come extremely close to being involved in crashes as a result of this problem as the car hesitates/stalls for several seconds after these incidents occur. It has happened several times as she has attempted to merge onto the expressway's here in metro atlanta (#2 in the nation for traffic). Please NHTSA... there is something seriously wrong with the powertrain in these vehicles and Hyundai needs to figure out what it is and get it fixed!

- Douglasville, GA, USA

problem #15

Jan 102012

Sonata 4-cyl

  • 6,000 miles


During light to moderate acceleration the transmission without warning goes back into a lower gear ( 1st gear ). my first reaction is to let off the accelerator due to high RPM. When this happened the car behind me almost rear ended me. I have taken the car to the dealer once already and I am taking it back again. Unfortunately this is an intermittent problem. Has happened 4 times since Jan 2012. My main concern is sometimes we have are granddaughter with us and am afraid that this could cause a accident.

- Mooresville, NC, USA

problem #14

Jun 062011


  • 25,000 miles
Unable to shift the car into drive from park. While stopped at a red lift the car failed to accelerate when pressing on the gas. Had to place the car in park and turn it off. When car was started again it failed to be placed into drive. Had to keep restarting car to get it to shift into gear. ESC light comes on when this happens and safety on even after able to shift into park. ESC does not work properly when this occurs. Car does not handle properly while on ice, snow or wet ground.

- Terryville, CT, USA

problem #13

Aug 042011

Sonata 4-cyl

  • 4,000 miles
After purchasing this vehicle brand new, I continually complained to Hyundai dealerships that the drivers floormat was not remaining secure and would slide up onto the accelerator. Most dealerships simply reattached the mat to the tether attached to the carpet. I continually complained that this was not sufficient because upon entering the vehicle the mat slid off the tether and would begin its journey forward. While driving, at various times, moving ones foot from the brake to the accelerator would then create problems with sudden acceleration. Finally, a dealer in scranton pa., dickson city Hyundai decided to order new floor tethers. After months - I returned to have an oil change and they advised the tethers were not there.. again, after an extended period of over three weeks of my car left at the dealership as it was a hazard to drive, they replaced the carpet and tethers that attach to it. Three weeks this car sat at the dealership for tethers. During this period, I investigated this make, model and year vehicle on the internet. Low and behold, this is a common complaint. That is: The front driver floor mat does not stay attached to the tethers and slides up onto the accelerator causing sudden acceleration. Most members writing the complaint said Hyundai did not want to make the repair.

- Gouldsboro, PA, USA

problem #12

Dec 192011


  • 19,000 miles
The first time I thought something strange was going on with my new car (purchased with 16,000 miles on it) at the 18,000 mile mark.. the car was stuck in 4th gear and would not change gears with the auto stick or with the pedals. I stopped the car and tried to pull out in traffic but had no power. I pulled over asap and turned the car off (rebooted the car) and everything worked again. On the Dec 17th,2011, (3 weeks later) I was pulling out of a friends house at 10pm and everything seem normal. However, as the car got to about 15mph the tach raced over to 5,000 rpms and then I heard a loud slam and the car shot forward. I recalled the last time the car acted strange so I checked to see what gear it was in and sure enough it was again in 4th gear. When I tried to change gears it would not change gears just as before. I pulled over and tired to reboot the car again, but this time it did not fix itself. I had to drive 30miles home, so I got on the interstate and headed home. The tach raced a few times, but because the car stayed in 4th gear I make it home safely. When I got home I discover the reverse was gone out as well. Now for the good news, I researched the issues one this and a few other site and discover I was not the only one with this problem. I took my car to the dealer this morning and asked for a new transmission. The service tech got me a loaner in less than 30mins I was on my way. Same car and color. I got a call from the dealer a couple of hours later saying they were going to replace the entire transmission. While and I not happy that my new car required a new transmission after only 3500 miles of me driving it and under 20,000 total miles, I am very happy how the dealer handled the entire issue. Hats off to eastern shore H of daphne, ala and thank god I got the 100,000 extended warranty. Will up date when I get my car back in 5 days.

- Caucasian/White, AL, USA

problem #11

Oct 142011

Sonata 4-cyl

  • 9,000 miles
While driving on the freeway I experienced a large jolt which resulted in an unexpected shift in the transmission gear where my speed of approx. 65 mph at 2000 RPM dropped to 45 mph at approx 3800 RPM. Had the freeway traffic not been light at the time, this could have caused an accident. Although the transmission indicator showed it was in "D", the gear was probably closer to 2nd gear. I pulled off the freeway and shifted from D to R to N to P, however it seemed that it was locked in 2nd gear. I managed to drive it in that gear to the local Hyundai dealer. However once the engine was shutoff and restarted, the transmission was back in its normal gear and they were not able to duplicate that event. In addition, according to the service representative, the computer showed no problems. After doing a search on the internet, it appears this has happened to others.

- Hawthorne, CA, USA

problem #10

Aug 192011


  • 25,000 miles
The contact owns a 2011 Hyundai Sonata. The contact stated that when shifting into drive, the indicator light would not illuminate and he was unable to accelerate intermittently. The vehicle was taken to the dealer where unknown repairs were performed on the vehicle yet the failure persisted. The manufacturer was not notified of the failure nor was the vehicle repaired. The current mileage was 29,799 and the approximate failure mileage was 25,000.

- Berea, KY, USA

problem #9

Sep 062011

Sonata 4-cyl

  • 2,440 miles
When pulling out of a parking lot from a stop the service light came on and the car's ready light started flashing. The car lost almost all power while I was in the center of the road. Other cars were able to avoid me, but they could have easily ran into me. Shutting the car off and restarting it restored normal operations.

- Burnsville, MN, USA

problem #8

May 012011


  • 19,000 miles
One morning when getting ready to go to work, I tried to start my 2011 Sonata. I pressed on the brake, which was very hard, pushed the button but the vehicle would not start. The lights, radio and air conditioner would all come on but the engine would not start. The car was in park and the gear shift could not be moved. I attempted multiple times for the next 10 minutes to start the vehicle but was unable. My husband tried putting jumper cables on the battery to see if that was the problem but it did not start. I waited about 5 minutes and tried again but the vehicle still would not start. Finally after almost 20 minutes, the brake pedal was easy to push on and the vehicle started. It caused me to be late to work but I did not have another occurrence until about a week later when I had been driving for some time and stopped for about 30 minutes. I got back in the car and once again the brake was very hard and the vehicle would not start. After multiple times over the next 10 minutes, it finally started.

- Santa Fe, TX, USA

problem #7

Mar 312011

Sonata 4-cyl

  • 4,137 miles
Failed components: Brakes & shift gear the brake pedal is not working most of the time when shifting the gear from park to drive mode (followed by reverse mode) I need to press the brake pedal very hard up to several times to shift the gear. I brought the vehicle to the dealer and it works fine for two days. It started happening after two first services to the vehicle by dealer. I brought the vehicle again to dealer after 1 week and explained the problem again. They did some troubleshooting again, they told me that they didn't identify the problem this time. I spoke with Hyundai customer support and they directed me to another dealer and asked me to document the problem. I took the vehicle to another dealer and they told me that this is a common issue and suggested that I unlock the "shift lock" in case of emergencies! I told them that shift lock is only useful in case of emergencies. But the brake pedal is not releasing the gear most of the time which is not acceptable. There is no answer from the dealer. Trying to contact Hyundai official support but nothing heard back from them at (after 2 weeks.) status update 02/23/12

- Tampa, FL, USA

problem #6

Feb 012011


  • miles
After a few days, I had problems with the transmission; lots of downshifting affecting performance and braking. I had other issues as well, which none of them could be isolated. Hyundai of new port ritchey said they could not find an error code in the computer system and therefore, they felt there was no problem. After a few days and just a few hundred miles on the car, I attempted to return the vehicle for a refund. The dealer refused to take the car back and would not return my money. They basically said, you purchase it, you paid for it, you own it. So the problem is mine.

- Tampa, FL, USA

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