17th Sep 2008, 17:23

I too have owned a 2001 Elantra since new. It's been a great car for me and I really haven't had all the servicing required by the manual. I currently have about 205,000 miles on it and it has never failed to start and never let me sit anywhere. I had the original timing belt replaced at 168,000 miles! Mostly brakes, tires and oil for me. Never saw a check engine light until 198,000 miles.(for a minor vacuum leak) If I could buy another brand new 2001 Elantra today I probably would. Cheap to own and a joy to drive.

30th Oct 2008, 18:55

I am the person who wrote the review at the top of this page, and have to add something else to my list of ills, all on a car that has very, very low miles:

My driver's side lock actuator wore out. When I click the remote, all the locks close except for the driver's side, so the alarm doesn't engage. I have to lock it with a key and then set the alarm. A few years ago I complained that the locks were too stiff — feeling like I had to pry them open with my fingernails before the power assist would engage. The dealer was supposed to lube them, but I doubt they did. If they had, I suspect that the actuator wouldn't have worn out with such light use on the vehicle. Apparently, this part is a special order part and I have been told by the dealer that if I order it and it's not the right part I can't return it. Last time I checked, a lot of parts were special order. But this is the first time I've ever been told I can't return an unused part. (Maybe they did this intentionally because I had volunteered that I wanted to buy it so that a friend could install it.)

To diagnose the problem the dealer was going to charge $96 and that didn't include the replacement actuator, which they quoted at $150. I took it to an independent shop where they diagnosed the problem for free and will fix it for less than $200.

It's no wonder my local Hyundai dealer has changed hands so many times. They run off all their customers with their high prices and poor attitudes. Take this, for example: A few years ago I left my car for the zillionth time, shortly after the right motor mount was replaced. I did so because I began to hear a vibration noise near the right side of the engine where the AC system is located. When I turned off the AC the noise would go away. For whatever reason, I only heard the buzzing noise when the car was in reverse. Later, I began to hear it when driving away from a stop light — but it typically faded in seconds.

I dropped the car off for this problem several years back, but as usual, after having my car for 24 hours, the service department claimed they didn't hear anything. Low and behold, on the way out I began hearing the noise before I even hit the street. I stopped and pulled into a parking spot and called out the service adviser. He popped the hood and took a listen. But while he was unable to hear anything because I was only idling, he stated that it was the AC clutch — just a normal part of the car getting older. He advised me not to worry about it unless it got worse. I took his advice. To pursue the issue would have meant I would have had to return to the dealer again and again, and since I had already done so at least 20 times for the other problems, that would have meant yet another go around of being without my car a couple days each month. (As it were, I had been in enough to qualify in the first two years for Lemon Law.)

Frustrated by everything you may have read in the original review, I decided to keep an ear on the situation and go back only if it became worse (in other words, when the noise became consistent enough that a 2-year-old could duplicate it). It never did become any more obnoxious — that is, until recently. Lately, I'm hearing it again mostly when I back up the car and pull out of the driveway. I no longer hear it moving forward, but I almost always hear it backing up. Now this is somewhat strange because I have always babied the AC system ever since I discovered while test driving in the summer months that these cars are notorious for squealing if you start the engine with the AC in the on position. Right off the bat, I got into the habit of starting my engine, turning on my AC next, and then backing out of the driveway. Now I'm doing all that but with the added step of not engaging the AC until I put the car in drive (it's an automatic).

Anyhow, while there for the lock actuator, I recently asked the dealer again if there's anything I ought to be concerned about if this noise continues to present itself. Yet while the A/C system seems to be working flawlessly despite the transient vibration noise, the service adviser stated that it would not be covered under warranty because driving it this long after the fact would be owner "negligence". What? I never actually HAD a verifiable diagnosis of the buzzing noise to begin with, only the speculation of someone who hadn't heard it but *thought* that the A/C clutch might be to blame.

In closing, I have an update on the acceleration rattle (another noise entirely). Turns out it's one problem that has finally been solved, but not to Hyundai's credit. You see, I had scoured the Internet back in the early days of ownership to determine the cause of the cold engine rattle and what came up on Edmunds.com was an Elantra owner who said his German mechanic attributed the cold-engine acceleration rattle to the timing belt tensioner. Now I reported ALL of this to the dealership service advisers, the customer relations manager, the owner, Hyundai USA and anyone who would listen — and I continued repeating the possibility for the first four years of ownership. But like those a-hole doctors who don't like patients to take a proactive role in their own health, they refused to listen to the "know-nothing" customer.

The factory rep came out more than once to troubleshoot the problem. This involved several checks of the valve clearances, replacing the right motor mount, the thrust-bearing washer and a carbon cleaning. All were expensive in-warranty efforts, but ultimately fruitless. Yet the one thing the dealer and the Hyundai factory rep. refused to do was listen to my simple request to check the timing belt and tensioner. So here I am, just this past summer, thinking that it might be time to change my timing belt since the car is now 7 years old. The miles are waaaay too low for this, but since nobody would agree under warranty to go in and check these parts — too much labor they said for a "hunt & peck mission" — I decided to do the job early even though I had been told the belts still had low wear. To my amazement, the cold engine/cold weather 10-15 minutes of rocks-in-a-tin-can rattle upon acceleration is GONE. Looks like the German mechanic had it right back in 2001. But hey, what could I possibly know? I'm just somebody with a college degree who grew up listening to all the banter associated with a father who owned an auto shop (sic!). The Einsteins at Hyundai know better!

My friends and family raised their eyebrows when they learned that I had bought a Hyundai Elantra in 2001. I argued that the Hyundai had made great strides since the days of the Hyundai Excel, offered the most features for the money, had been reviewed highly by Edmunds.com — not to mention every other automotive source that reviewed it (I did my homework) — and offered the best warranty in the business. Come full circle, I would have to admit my friends and family were right. No more Hyundais for me. If Toyota had had a Corolla out in 2001, I would have never lived this nightmare. Lesson learned: Ignore the automotive journalists and listen to friends & family!