2004 Hyundai Santa Fe Reviews from North America

2004 Hyundai Santa Fe LX 3.5L V6

Model year2004
Year of manufacture2003
First year of ownership2011
Most recent year of ownership2013
Engine and transmission 3.5L V6 Automatic
Performance marks 9 / 10
Reliability marks 7 / 10
Comfort marks 9 / 10
Running Costs (higher is cheaper) 7 / 10
Overall marks (average of all marks)
8.0 / 10
Distance when acquired69000 miles
Most recent distance87747 miles

Summary:

A great car with large maintenance costs

Faults:

Electrical:

My seat belt sensor stopped working and the seat belt icon blinks at all times - at around 72,000 miles.

Sometimes the passenger door won't unlock electronically. It happens intermittently, but is only a minor annoyance. Started around 77,000 miles.

CD Player refused to play, eject, or change discs and was practically a fancy radio until one day it decided to work again. During this period it simply said "Player Err", 87,000 miles.

Cosmetic:

Rust developing along window panes and on rotors. Very minor rust underneath, far from Toyota territory though so that's good. 71,000 miles.

Seat belt latch plastic covering broke during a cold winter morning, 74,000 miles.

Engine/Steering/Transmission:

Check engine light lit up at 81,000 miles and found it to be an EVAP code, smoke test blown and found the solenoid to be sticking. CEL reset several times, but came back and throws the same code every time diagnostics are ran; have checked gas cap, am simply ignoring it now.

Power steering whine developed around 78,000 miles, and finally flushed the system the same time I had the CEL cleared. $300 fix, whine came back with a vengeance.

Timing belt, water pump, and all accessory belts soon to be replaced at 88,000. $930 fix - cheapest I could find from a reputable mechanic.

Power steering pump started to whine heavily and go out at 86,000; soon to be replaced next week at around 87,000 - $300 to replace.

Sludge deposit build up visibly noticeable around the 75,000 mark. I use quality oil at sensible intervals and had an oil analysis run with no engine damage or unusual wear. Small % of water dilution in oil, possibly due to evaporation from EVAP system or condensation from winter weather. No coolant found.

Transmission flushed around 53,000 miles before I owned it. I did a partial transmission flush using a suction pump at 75,000 miles. The thing shifts like a dream.

General Comments:

The Santa Fe has been a joy to drive. The interior and design is spacious and luxurious. The sunroof is great and everything is tailored to the driver and passengers. My time with these luxuries may be limited however. The Hyundai has a tendency to start failing on electrical components such as the CD player, door locks, power windows, power anything. The mechanical aspect of the vehicle is strong - very strong. I have had no problems with the transmission or engine, but when it comes time for typical maintenance, such as the timing belt and water pump, you're paying 10+ hours of labor for the mechanic to finish the job - if you can find a mechanic who will do it.

My power steering has been making noise for a while now, but it has gotten to the point where it's practically yelling at me that it's injured. So, in a few days the call will be answered and my little guy will be replaced.

Hyundais as a whole are not bad vehicles. In fact I would say they are much better than some domestic vehicles. They are nowhere near the quality of a Toyota, per se, which we have also, with 177,000 miles and less than half of the issues our Hyundai has had. Hyundais depreciate in value and that's a shame. If you can find a Santa Fe that's been well maintained and cheap enough that you won't be tied down for more than 2 or 3 years in a loan, I say go for it. They are great vehicles, but be prepared for expensive maintenance costs. We got ours with a 5 year loan, and it smarts knowing that we still owe money, yet we have to pay another grand or so for some preventive maintenance. If it were paid off, there would be no problem. But we only have a year and a half left to go, so with that being said it's worth keeping the vehicle.

Again - great vehicle if you can find one well maintained and at a low cost. If you're paying more than $10k for a Santa Fe this age, walk away quickly.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Don't Know

Review Date: 19th August, 2013

20th Aug 2013, 11:10

I wouldn't worry about a little bit of sludge - just run some higher octane gas in there, and that'll flush it out. Check engine light is probably just a loose gas cap or something. Just give it a really strong crank next time you fill up, and that should help set that sensor straight. Was the CD really scratched up that you were trying to play? If it was an electrical problem, how could it just fix itself randomly? You got ripped off on the timing belt and water pump, unfortunately.

31st Aug 2013, 13:17

Thanks for the advice. No I didn't get ripped on the timing belt and water pump. I just got the vehicle back today and he replaced everything that I asked him to - and that's everything that could go out between now and 150,000 miles. Timing belt, pulleys, serpentine A/C and alternator belts, P/S pump, crankshaft position sensor, and the CPS blade, which was tearing up the old sensor. With tax and shop parts, it came up to $1,465, but I have a 2 year warranty with parts and labor thrown in on that. I checked around and the prices were anywhere between reasonable and outrageous. This local guy knows what he's doing and has a good reputation, so I decided to stick with him.

I could have bought the parts separate and saved a couple of hundred bucks, but then I wouldn't have gotten the 2 year parts and labor warranty through NAPA. According to varied reports online, and the research both him and I teamed up on, our vehicle should last another 60k before anything major needs to be done. We had it serviced in every sense of the word :-)

2004 Hyundai Santa Fe LX 3.5L

Model year2004
Year of manufacture2003
First year of ownership2003
Most recent year of ownership2013
Engine and transmission 3.5L Automatic
Performance marks 10 / 10
Reliability marks 10 / 10
Comfort marks 8 / 10
Dealer Service marks 10 / 10
Running Costs (higher is cheaper) 5 / 10
Overall marks (average of all marks)
8.6 / 10
Distance when acquired15 miles
Most recent distance119000 miles
Previous carMazda 626

Summary:

Day after day reliability

Faults:

Transfer case leaked oil at around 17,000 miles - dealer fixed under warranty no problem.

Driver's side heated seat does not work. Had it fixed under warranty, does not work again around 80,000 miles.

Fuel gauge is questionable - When full, it can go 100 miles before the tank reads 3/4 full, then 40-50 miles later it is 1/4 full, and can go about another 80 miles.

General Comments:

One of the best cars I have ever owned.

Almost 10 years later, and still rides like new.

Have a slight tranny problem; maybe low on fluid.

I had full maintenance done at intervals specified, and this car has been great.

Must get the timing belt changed at 60K miles, or else risk losing the engine.

Dealer maintenance at 60K miles recommended, I got it done at 71K miles - full service as recommended, and have had zero problems since the first day I owned car. If one chooses to get the 60K mile service done - the dealer will check/replace/repair everything at one service charge, as listed in the owner's manual.

Very satisfied with Hyundai, and will buy again.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 9th March, 2013

Average review marks: 6.3 / 10, based on 28 reviews