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:
3 / 8
Injuries / Deaths:
5 / 0
Average Mileage:
38,032 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 electrical problems

electrical problem

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2011 Hyundai Sonata Owner Comments (Page 5 of 10)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #118

Jun 142012


  • 68,000 miles


The contact owns a 2011 Hyundai Sonata. The contact stated that the vehicle failed to start. In addition, the contact stated that the brake lights and headlights failed without warning. The vehicle was taken to the dealer where it was diagnosed that the stop brake lamp and the starter motor needed to be replaced. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was made aware of the failures. The failure mileage was 68,000.

- Long Beach , CA, USA

problem #117

Jan 012015

Sonata 4-cyl

  • miles
2011 Hyundai Sonata defect in the light stem switch that causes headlights and dash lights to flicker the consumer stated he began to experience occasional episodes of flickering headlights, especially when switching between high and low beam.

- Aurora, MO, USA

problem #116

Dec 242014


  • 144,000 miles
Oil light blinked on and off twice. Car was making a knocking noise. Stopped to check oil; absolutely no oil in the vehicle. No sign of leak; no smoking; no other indication of problem. Put 3 quarts of oil in the car. Knocking sound was worse. Drove car home and haven't driven it since. This is one of many problems I've had with this car. I get regular oil changes. I haven't had the car looked at yet due to cost and out of warranty. I've read other complaints of loss of oil resulting in complete engine failure. There was absolutely no indication that the oil was even low which I attribute to the faulty electrical system since I've had problems with that as well. It's my opinion that this car is unsafe to drive. I've read this year model has over 900 problems while other year models have average of 230 something problems. Obviously, this car should be completely recalled and replaced by Hyundai dealer.

- Vinton, LA, USA

problem #115

Nov 012013

Sonata 4-cyl

  • 20,000 miles


Push to start does start when it's cold outside. I have to unlock the car manually since the car won't even open with the remote. I then have to struggle while in the car trying to push the start button and step on the brake. Sometimes it turns on, other times it doesn't. its been happening since last year. And already happened twice this week.

- Bronx, NY, USA

problem #114

Oct 302013


  • 111,000 miles
I have had several occurrences where it feels as if my car is going to stall. I attempted to start my car this morning where it failed to respond. The starter was replaced in 2012, the battery replaced 2013 and now Hyundai claims it is my starter lever that also needs to be replaced (2014). I have read numerous complaints from other Hyundai owners complaining of the same issue. Now, I have to pay over $300 to have the starter lever replaced which will now be my 3rd issue since I have had this car. Also, I did suffer from the rear brake light issue that was recently recalled and have had to replace my back light several times before the recall was initiated. Due to my continuation of brake light issues post recall change, I am told that the lamp has melted due to the possibility of the bulb overheating the lamp. I do not see how any of these issues are my fault and believe that Hyundai should recall, and replace all of these malfunctions.

- Upland, CA, USA

problem #113

Oct 182013


  • 88,000 miles
Push start button failed to work.

- Okc, OK, USA

problem #112

Sep 012014

Sonata 4-cyl

  • 97,000 miles


My wife and I came out of the store, unlocked the car, put the key in and nothing happened. No lights, no noise, no crank, absolutely no response to turning the key. I then removed the key, put it back in, and again nothing. I then pulled keys, got out, locked the and then unlocked the car and then successfully got the car on. Today, Sept. 3, my wife had the same thing happen, but it took much longer until she could get it to go.

- Lynchburg, VA, USA

problem #111

Jul 152014


  • 12,000 miles
After stopping and putting vehicle in park, electrical system does not turn off. I get a message saying put vehicle in park. After several attempts at turning engine on and off, car shuts completely off. This has been an intermittent problem for about a year. At first it seemed to be caused by something resting against the transmission lever (e.g. a piece of paper of a dvd). Now, it seems to be independent of any object resting against it.

- Evanston, IL, USA

problem #110

Aug 012014

Sonata 4-cyl

  • 54,000 miles
Hello, I'm not sure if this qualifies, but this vehicle has a major defect in the compressor kicking on for air conditioning (per my own experience and examining forums of other users). The A/C does not come on intermittently, especially when the car hasn't been turned on for 3 or 4 hours. This can be a major safety concern in warm areas.

- Statesboro, GA, USA

problem #109

Mar 032014

Sonata 4-cyl

  • 78,728 miles
In February 2014 we started having issues with the car not starting at all. We would put our foot on the brake and press the button and it just sits there. I have been stranded at many locations until it decided to crank. I called rick case in roswell ga and was told to bring it in if it does it again. Now the next thing that started to happen was the transmission lights P, R, N and D would start flashing and go blank as we were driving then you could feel the car loose power. I was told by the dealership to pull over and restart the car so this went on for a bit until it finally quit starting and sat in the garage for the tow truck who had to use a screw driver and it slipped into R easily because it wont start. Went to the dealership they could not get it started and kept it for many days saying everything is fine we think the starter was going and we had bought an extended warranty and they told us it does not cover that so we had to come up with $552,77. I am not working now due to cushing disease so we are down to one car. My husband had to get rides to work daily. I also found it very odd that the manager made us sign a form stating we would not bring this car back with the same issue again. The car is still acting up so we are not sure what to do. We do like the car and would trade it in but we are upside down and the payments would be so much. We feel we do need to get our money back because I truly believe it was not the starter.please advise on what to do with a car we are now scared to drive. My son is 16 and this would be his car but not know. Thank you they gave me case#[xxx] information redacted pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(B)(6).

- Canton, GA, USA

problem #108

Apr 252014


  • 57,000 miles


When driving 45 miles per hour or 25 mph, the cars RPM's rev really high and the car gets stuck, I could not accelerate and was almost hit from behind. It has done this several times. I was going 75 miles per hour on the highway, the RPM"S revved really high and I could not accelerate or move. Then the D on the dashboard dropped from D to 4 to 3 to 2...... I had to wait for it to shift back into gear on its own and then it went back into drive and I could move. However it continued to do that 4 times later in the same day. I have had the vehicle in several times for this issue and they keep saying there isn't anything wrong. This is very dangerous and I have 3 small children so I am very concerned about this issue as it is continuing to do it. Getting stuck in gear is not safe nor is having the RPM's rev that high and being stuck on a highway!

- Maple Grove , MN, USA

problem #107

Feb 112014

Sonata 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 79,000 miles
The contact owns a 2011 Hyundai Sonata. The contact stated that the key had to be removed from the ignition by turning the steering wheel several times. The dealer inspected the ignition switch however the failure did not duplicate. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was not made aware of the failure. The failure mileage was 79,000. Updated 09/05/14 updated 12/4/2014

- Rancho Cordova , CA, USA

problem #106

Jul 262014

Sonata 4-cyl

  • 91,735 miles
I was driving my wife's car home from work and stopped by a gas station for a drink. I came back to the car and started it up. As I was engaging in gear, I noticed the shift indicator on the instrument panel and the shifter was missing. I put the car back in park, killed the motor and restarted. It reappeared, but briefly. As I put it in drive, I felt a violent jerking motion from the gearbox; then the dreaded check engine light reared its ugly head. I drove to the nearest auto parts store to have a guy pull the code(s) for me. It was a failing PCM (powertrain control module) that was giving me drivetrain issues. In regards to electrical, whenever my wife (or anyone else) ride in the passenger side, the interior lights turn on whenever I make hard left turns. Interesting :-/.

- Dallas, TX, USA

problem #105

Jun 272014


  • 59,431 miles
Incident details: On Friday, June 27th, around 7:15 a.M., I was in my car with my 18 month old son getting ready to leave my garage. I put my car in reverse; however, I noticed the gear readout on the dashboard was non-functional. I looked down at the gear shift and the indicator light was also non-functional. I decided I should run into the house and get my husband to have him look at the car. I put the car back into park, took my foot off the brake, and turned to tell my son I would be right back. I opened the door and started step out of the car. I felt the car jerk violently and then it started to roll backwards. I was knocked off my feet and dragged down my driveway until my car hit my neighbor's tree (approx.. 70? from where the car started inside the garage), where it stopped. The event caught the attention of my neighbor who ran over to my house to alert my husband. He ran out to the car, which was rested against the tree. He attempted to put the car in "park", however the gear selector was in its absolute forward position. He then pulled the gear selector back into the drive position (gear indicators still non-functional) and the car made an audible "snap? and lurched forward. My husband drove the car approx. 20" where he parked it. My husband, made a phone call to the gurnee, il Hyundai dealership, they advised him to call the Hyundai customer care number (1-800-633-5151). He was connected with a case manager by the name of merrieta. She took notes of the incident and advised him to have the car sent to the nearest Hyundai dealership for an investigation. The car was picked up by tow truck June 27th around 11am and delivered to the gurnee Hyundai dealership.

- Round Lake, IL, USA

problem #104

Jul 122014


  • 32,909 miles
While driving around 10 mph on the expressway with traffic all the lights on dash board lit up and the car just turned off. I was able to safety pull car over to the right and then a strong odor of fire entered the vehicle. Then smoke started coming from the hood. No flames just smoke. What's extremely disturbing is I just got and oil change from the dealership 3 days prior, I requested a check of the engine because the car shut off 3 times one week prior to incident. The dealership stated they check the engine and test drove vehicle and car was ok to drive. This car has had issues from the very first week of purchasing. And what makes me very upset at the time of this almost catastrophic incident is my wife and 10 month old child were in the car during this incident. This car is absolutely the worst car I have ever owned. And it's unbelievable to me how these are still on the road. Recalling only seems to put a band aid on the problem. What's needed is full cash refunds to all owners of 2011 Sonatas. I believe the 2011 Sonata must hold the record in a vehicles with most problems ever recorded.

- Brinx, NY, USA

problem #103

Feb 242014

Sonata 4-cyl

  • 53,000 miles
On multiple occasions, my car would not start with the keyless key fob. The car stated they key was not detected although the key was in the car. I could not unlock the car, could not open the trunk or use the buttons on the key fob in any way. This has happened increasingly in the past month.

- Cleveland, WI, USA

problem #102

Feb 252012

Sonata 4-cyl

  • 28,000 miles
While entering a parking spot to a diner, the car unintended accelerated crashing into the side of the diner. Minor damage to the side of the diner as I was no more than 3 feet from the bldg. My foot was on the brake pedal when this acceleration occurred without warning. I was entering the parking spot at no more than 5 mph planning to put the car in park and exit for lunch. My leg hit the hood latch and I obtained a nasty cut on my shin. The consumer stated other components were replaced, such as the tires and transmission. The consumer also stated, when she turned the ignition, there was an odor of smoke and rubber burning. Updated 11/16/15.

- Manchester, NJ, USA

problem #101

Apr 112012

Sonata 4-cyl

  • 55,946 miles
I have purchase my vehicle in March-2011 as a certified pre-owned vehicle. There are several complaints I have on this vehicle since purchased, but I will stick with a recurring issue. 4/11/12 I took my vehicle in because a blown passenger low beam headlight that went out. They determined that upon inspection found an open circuit due to blown right front bulb. It was "corrected." 06/07/12 took my vehicle once again for the drivers side headlight that went out. Installed bulb 5/2/13 took my vehicle for a blown passenger low beam headlight that went out. "undetermined." 2/5/14 took my vehicle for a blown passenger low beam headlight that went out. "undetermined updated 04/17/14

- Pomona, CA, USA

problem #100

Jan 102014

Sonata 4-cyl

  • 40,275 miles
The car would not start and all the electrical component lights came on (emergency lights blinking, turn indicators, electronic stability control, battery light indicator, etc.). the horn was blaring also and the key was in my pocket. I thought I hit the emergency button by accident so I pulled out the key and hit the button off. It would not stop. I tried starting the car, but it would not. It went off finally. So, I tried starting the car and all the stuff started again. So, I came home while I could. This is totally unacceptable and dangerous.

- Baton Rouge, LA, USA

problem #99

Nov 302013

Sonata 4-cyl

  • 28,159 miles
Hyundai Sonata 2011 push button start. I am the original owner of the vehicle. Yesterday I went into my car and proceeded to start my car. I had to push the start button three times before it actually started up. This happened twice within 2 hours. 5 days prior my vehicle had been to the Hyundai dealership for the recall on the stop lamp switch. An existing recall (NHTSA campaign number: 13V113000) indicates that for the 2011 Hyundai Sonata the stop lamp switch may not function correctly. They, the dealership, performed the service and replaced the stoplamp switch. As result my car is experiencing intermittent switch point contact with the push-button start. This is crazy.

- Laguna Beach, CA, USA

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