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2008 Santa Fe abrupt 2nd to 3rd cold shift?

paulnzpaulnz Posts: 16
edited June 2014 in Hyundai
I have an '08 Santa Fe Limited AWD that has an abrupt 2nd to 3rd upshift when the engine/trans is cold. Has anyone else noticed this with their SF?

It has done it since new (it only has about 8,000 miles on it now) and I do not like the behavior - it seems that something is wrong. I had it to the dealer a couple of weeks ago to check out the problem. They put a "flight recorder" on it and ran it cold and warm and said all parameters were in spec. It shifts fine once it warms up, but when the engine/trans is cold, the 2nd to 3rd shift is consistently abrupt. It even does it somewhat when the weather is warm (over 70 degrees F), but the problem gets worse the colder the weather (and therefore the longer the warm-up time for the engine/trans).

The dealer gave me some baloney about the adaptive transmission possibly causing the problem and they reset the computer for me so it would have to "relearn" the shift points. Did not make a bit of difference (and I drive very easy). One other owner on another board noted the same problem. I wonder if anyone else has noted the same thing?

There might be a problem with a limited number of them or they might all behave this way (although I think others would have posted before about it by now). Also, I used the "manual" shift a couple of times to verify if the abrupt shift is in the shift logic or in the actual shifting itself. The same abruptness was there whether I let the trans shift itself or if I shifted it - which makes me think it is a quirk of the transmission itself (or a trans problem). This is a worry to me because 1) I wonder if this is a sign of worse things to come from the trans and 2) even if it is normal behavior, if I ever sold it, anyone test driving it would immediately think something is wrong with the trans.


  • This seems like the same problem we're having on our '08 Limited AWD Santa Fe. The dealer reprogrammed the computer and it didn't help at all, brought it back the next day and then was told they will replace the transmission. And our car only has 3,800 miles on it. I think there is an issue out there but Hyundai hasn't issue and recall yet and just fixing them on an individual basis.
  • paulnzpaulnz Posts: 16

    Thanks for the reply.

    Does yours shift properly once warmed up (like mine does) or does it shift badly all the time?

    I have seen other posts about full transmission failures, but the problem I and a few others are having is less than that, but still very worrisome. It has already soured me on ever buying another Hyundai. I have owned a many cars over the years and none have ever exhibited shifting behavior like this thing does.

    The only good thing about my problem is that it is just 'there' in that it does not seem to get better or worse. You just have to brace yourself for that first 2nd to 3rd shift when it is cold outside.

    When I had the dealer check mine, it was about 50 degrees F outside. It does shift better the warmer the weather. I am going to take it back to them soon and let them drive it when it is below freezing.
  • I have an 07 limited with 19,000 on it. My transmission did the same thing, but mine did it from low to second. It shifted so hard one time the check engine light light came on. I took it back, they re-programed the transmission. It's been about a year now, and it's been running fine. :)
  • Hi all;

    I have an all wheel drive 2008, 3.3 litre engine with approx. 11,000 klms on it.

    I have noticed this winter that it shifts rather abruptly when shifting from 1st to 2nd and also from 2nd to 3rd. It will do this on the first drive of the day, especially in cold weather. Which is to say, it only does it on the first and second times it goes from 1st to 2nd and from 2nd to 3rd. By the time it has to do do these shifts again the tranny is sufficiently warm enough to be smooth. The colder the temp the more noticeable the abruptness of the shift is. Like the rest of you, once it is warmed up it shifts as smooth as butter. Couldn't shift better.

    Service rep is good but said that it may simply be a matter of the tranny not having reached it's proper running temp. But this temp is only reached by driving the vehicle, so you have to suffer these first shifts in order to get to the operating temp. Doesn't seem right to me. No other vehicle that I have owned behaved this way.

    In light of our collective concern I will pursue this iisue with my dealership with a lot more vigor.
    Thank you for bringing forth this issue as I might not have pursued it without some others voicing their concern.

    Also, is there a flash upgrade for the transmission that the dealership can do to upgrade the firmware in the tranny? And/or, just what can I expect my dealer to do for me, in terms of helping or fixing this problem for me?

    Merry Christmas, best of luck, and I hope all goes well for everyone.
  • paulnzpaulnz Posts: 16

    Thanks for the info. You describe the problem exactly. There are at least 4 of us who have documented the same thing through various forums. If you go to this thread on a different forum => you can see the post of another gentleman who has the same problem. You can see my reply and a link I added to similar problems with the 2009 Sonata (same drivetrain). Hyundai released a TCM software upgrade to improve its shifting - I am wondering the same as you: Will there be one for the Santa Fe?

    IMO, unless you have a dealer that is actually interested in helping customers solve problems, getting someone to listen is going to be tough. My dealer hooked mine up to the recording computer and when all the shift points and other data were within spec, it was case closed - there is nothing wrong with the trans according to them. It did not help that I had to leave it with them on a day that was 50 degrees F. I have just been too busy to expend the time to take it back and leave it with them again. With it being 15 degrees F here right now, if they could test it again I am sure it would at least get their attention.

    If you take yours back, it might help to print out these and other forum posts to prove that others are having the same problem. I don't care what anyone or any diagnostic computer says - they way this thing shifts when cold is not right. Either there is a problem with some of these transmissions or else Hyundai's engineers don't know how to properly design one. Every car and truck I have ever owned has shifted pretty much the same hot or cold - there is no reason a supposedly higher-end vehicle like the Santa Fe should not do likewise.

    Think about it for a minute - if you were a passenger in a car that shifted like that (even if it is only for the first or second time it shifts), wouldn't you immediately think that something was wrong? I sure would. Even if it is 'normal', to me if you were to ever try to sell the thing, anyone who test drove it would be immediately turned off by the way it shifts :lemon: .

    I know I will NEVER buy another Hyundai because of this. My best luck has always been with Honda, even though you don't get as much for your money with them. At least you get some level of quality and peace of mind.

    Let us know if you make any progress.

    Paul from Ohio.
  • If you go to and create an account for yourself there, you can access the same TSB info the Hyundai techs use. Login and look for Santa Fe TSB #08-AT-003 and look it over. It is a very thorough and detailed process a tech should follow to check out and correct harsh shift problems. Print it out and take it with you to your dealership. If they won't perform that process, either find another Hyundai dealership that will or get in contact with Hyundai's home office. You can find their contact info at Good luck.
  • paulnzpaulnz Posts: 16
    I do have access to the service site and have read that TSB (08-AT-003). If you carefully read the TSB, however, its only real diagnostic concern is to see if the shift occurs in 2.0 seconds or less (this is for the 1-2, 2-3, 3-4, and 4-5 shifts). I would imagine more diagnostic information can be obtained from the graphs, but the TSB only addresses the 2.0 second max shift time.

    The solution if the shift(s) take longer than 2.0 seconds is pretty "low-tech" - swap the powertain control module and/or transmission control module out with a known good one and see if that fixes it. If so, then that was the problem - if not, then replace the transmission.

    I am not a mechanic, but it would seem that transmission shifting problems can be of many different types than just taking more than taking 2.0 seconds to shift. In my case, the 2nd to 3rd shift occurs well within the 2.0 seconds, it is just very abrupt.

    I think these types of TSBs can help, but they can also hurt the diagnostic process if a technician blindly follows it and if it passes then declares that everything is fine. It only address one aspect of the complex shifting process. The technician would need to use the GDS program to look at all of the data involved in the shift and apply some logic to attempt to see what is actually occuring and how that relates to the problem at hand. Ideally, record a set of data with the trans stone cold (-1 degrees F here tonight would be ideal :) ), store those results, then run another set with the engine/trans warm and compare the two (since mine shifts fine once warmed up).

    One of the things I would look at is the temperature sensor in the transmission. I am not sure exactly what its role in the shifting process is, but I would think that if it is not accurately reporting the trans fluid temperature, it could have something to do with my shifting problem.

    This is one of the reasons I actually prefer to have a vehicle that is out of warranty - I can work on it myself and if I get stuck I have an independent, sharp, honest mechanic 2 miles away from me who has never failed to solve even the toughest problems.

    With the Hyundai, the long warranty is both good and bad - it is nice to have things covered for so long, but it is also bad when you have unusual problems that at least a few of us are experiencing.

    I have had so many things messed up over the years by people who are supposed to know what they are doing, but don't, I have gotten to the point that I want to do all of my own work on everything. With the Hyundai, I feel like "just give me the &#@!! GDS computer and I will figure this out myself." Unfortunately, I and everyone else (unless they drive a LOT of miles) are stuck with trying to get the dealers to fix things.
  • Good day all,

    Since purchasing my first 2007 Santa Fe 3.3 AWD in Feb 2007, it has been replaced with a new one by Hyundai Canada in Nov 2007 due to improperly welded rear quarter panels. I am now on my second one which is identical to the first one only manufactured at a later date (May 2008) with the quarter panel issue since corrected on the assembly line in Alabama.

    I have to admit I really like driving it but it seems to be one little problem after another ie: FM radio stations going in and out of 'stereo' on a regular basis, leaking sunroof (fixed by dealer), doors not closing properly and the latest transmission problems; 1) the other day while leaving my driveway the transmission seemed to kick into neutral on its own...I looked down at the shift handle and it was still in drive. I tried to drive forward but it would not engage in gear so i put it into reverse...still nothing and then back to drive, again nothing. After approx. 10-15 secs of waiting, it re-engaged on its own. Not sure if it had something to do with the cold weather (-15C) but I suspect it did. 2) the transmission has a very abrupt shift from 2nd to 3rd when cold. Once it warm up it shifts smoothly, but is much more noticeable with colder weather.

    It now has about 18,000kms and I have to admit I'm concerned for long term reliability. The dealership I deal with has been fantastic and I have nothing negative to say about them not to mention Hyundai Canada. I delt with one of the head people from the office in Toronto regarding the quarter panel issue and again he was absolutely great. I realize with newly re-designed models of vehicles most manufacturers have resulting 'hic-ups' but there just seem to be too many 'hic ups' with this vehicle. As much as I would like to remain loyal to Hyundai, they're really going to have to figure things out or I'll be switching brands.

    Thanks for your time.
  • paulnzpaulnz Posts: 16
    dirkpit, thanks for the reply. I hate to say it, but the behavior of it not engaging sounds ominously like another post I saw where the end result was replacement of the transmission. I think it was on this forum, but it might have been on a couple of others I follow: and

    I have had health issues and have not had time to pursue the cold shifting problem with mine with the dealer again yet. I have just been too sick to try to get these jokers to understand and acknowledge the problem. It is, however, an aggravation every time I drive it. I live in Ohio and I would suspect that it is colder in Canada, so the shifting is probably even worse for you.

    As far as just the abrupt shifting when cold goes, I suspect we are going to continue to get the "this is normal behavior" from Hyundai. To that I would say: #*@&;^%?!!

    SOMETHING IS NOT RIGHT when a transmission shifts hard enough to rattle change left in the console tray. I don't care what any dealer tech, service manager, or engineer says - a normal trans does not shift like that.

    I have owned a lot of cars over the years that (compared to the technology available now) had positively stone-age automatic transmissions. NOT ONE of my cars every shifted like this crappy Santa Fe does :lemon: . No matter what the resolution (some software upgrade [unlikely], new transmission, whatever) this problem has soured me on ever buying another Hyundai product again.

    Keep us updated on your case and good luck to you.
  • dirkpit222, can you elaborate on the circumstances regarding the Rear Quarter Panels? How did this problem manifest itself?

    I'm asking because there is a new Technical Service Bulletin that documents a CREAKING sound coming from the driver-side rear quarter panel. It is known as TSB 08-BD-008-1. My Santa Fe (Ltd, Awd, Alabama May 2008) has this problem.

    The fix is very invasive and I'm contemplating if the small creaking sound is worth the risk of having Hyundai performing surgey on the vehicle I otherwise love.
  • Hi NY Maverick,

    This quarter panel issue started in summer of '07. I'll try and explain it as best as possible without confusing the heck out of you haha.

    -June '07 my friend noticed the back doors were not flush with the rest of the vehicle body (only noticeable if your standing at the rear looking toward the front)

    -Brought it to dealer and they tried to adjust them so they would be luck

    -Dealer sent it to body shop and I went to oversee the situation...body shop guy told me the only way to fix them would be to bend the doors in a bit at the bottom. I was assured there would be no resulting damage so thats what we did. It worked but it put them completely out of line in the mid area.

    -Brought it to another body shop...same thing, only they added that the doors will NEVER fit properly because something (either quarter panel or doors) were not properly cut from manufacturer.

    -Dealer tried putting on a new door...same thing.

    -Hyundai USA sent 2 people from plant in Alabama to the dealership and they tried to fix luck.

    -Last but not least they came to the conclusion that the rear quarter panels were incorrectly welded which resulted in the mis-alignment problem that could only be fixed by re-welding, re-painting and re-finishing the entire rear of the car.

    During this 3 month-or-so time frame I had been in contact with one of the head people from Hyundai Canada....he was awesome! He did everything he could for me and finnally replaced it with the same one (only difference is it was manufactured quite a bit later). Now I seem to be having all kinds of other problems. As great as Hyundai Canada and my dealer have been, I'm almost ready to switch brands.
  • I also bought a 2008 Santa Fe, and it shifts very abruptly, jerking the entire car when first placing the card into drive when engine is cold. It is less abrupt when engine is completely warm, but it takes a very long time to warm up, this is obviously not normal. Hyundai continues to advise they cannot find anything wrong with the vehicle and a hard shift is not indicative of a problem? After escalating to head office and taking it in to the dealership on several occasions for testing they continue to claim they can find no problem. It is now began to stutter and stalls on occasion in the cold weather if I do not warm up for more than 10 minutes after placind the car into drive. I have also felt stuttering when coming to a stop when vehicle is gearing down. My entire family has been loyal Hyundai customers and I am extremely irate regarding this negative experience and service provided. I have wasted much of my personal time communicating with Hyundai and taking it back and forth to and from the dealership with no resolution. It is somewhat reassuring to see I am not the only one experiencing this same problem, but very dissapointed in Hyundai as it seems to be a possible defect with the timing of the transmission with the 2008 model?
  • ttom777ttom777 Posts: 1
    how do you change the tail lights.Do you pull the whole assembly straight out once the screws are out or is there other way to get at the bulbs..
  • I just recently had a body shop work on my Santa Fe. They worked on the engine fuse box since one of the relay switches was bad. When I took it to them, it shifted fine (reverse and drive). Since they fixed the relay, it now shifts hard when going into Reverse and about half as hard going into Drive. Scanned it and it sent the following codes: P0770, P0750 and P0743.

    Any ideas? Seems to me that it may be electrical not mechanical.

    Any advise or help is appreciated. :confuse:
  • It was simply a relay switch. I spoke to a transmission mechanic and he told me to check the relays or the fuses. He was right. Too many error codes. :)
  • dannyd3dannyd3 Posts: 56

    Any updates regarding the problem with the hard shift from 2nd to 3rd. I have an 09 santa fe AWD 3.3litre, and it does the same thing on the first shift from 2nd to 3rd. But only the first shift of the day, then it is smooth sailing. I brought it in to the dealer today after reading all of the posts yesterday, i asked them to check if there were any updates for the trans software, I have the current software.

    I was wondering if all or any of you have figured it out.

  • paulnzpaulnz Posts: 16
    Danny, I have meant to post again about the problem (I am the person that started this thread). My 2008 Santa Fe Limited 3.3L AWD still has the "problem". I still don't like it, but have learned to live with it. I did find that the threshold temperature at which it will shift hard on that first 2nd to 3rd shift is 65 degrees F. Below that temp it does it once or twice but above that temp it shifts fine.

    I like the car in all other respects - it is definitely the nicest vehicle I have ever owned. I could probably keep at the dealer and get them to replace the trans, but having 18,000 miles on it now, I don't think the trans is 'defective' but rather it is just the way it behaves when cold (built-in behavior, unfortunately). Of course that does not explain at all why most owners (at least on the forums) have never reported any problem of this type while a few of us have. My experience has been that it is extremely consistent and predictable behavior. If it were otherwise, I would have already pushed for a new trans. I am also afraid if I were to have them change the trans that I would end up with a lot more problems than just an abrupt shift when cold.

    That still does not make it 'right' that the trans acts like that - some engineer or engineers at Hyundai were asleep at the wheel on this one, IMO. I am still very disappointed at the cold shifting, but I decided it is not something that I am going to dwell on, and instead enjoy all the other great aspects of the vehicle. If, however, it ever gets worse or acts strangely in any other way, I will be exercising that warranty that Hyundai brags so much about.
  • dannyd3dannyd3 Posts: 56
    Thanks for getting back to me right away. I have owned hyundai's since 1995 accent, 2000 sonata, 2002 bought elantra and santa fe, now 2009 santa fe again because I have never had any problem and I have been so impressed with the way the turned this company around building a quality product now.

    It just bugs me that not all Santa fe's have the problem. Some friends own new ones as well and they haven't had this issue. I live in Canada and it gets pretty cold here, and apparently gets worse with cold.

    I to have concerns with changing the trans for fear of anything else happening but at the same time worry what damage can be caused by this shift.

    We will see what my dealer wants to do and I will keep you posted
  • Hi There,

    I was just wondering if you have any news regarding the trans yet. Now that it is very cold out everyday I think Im going to leave my vehicle at the dealer after the holidays so they can experience the problem themselves.

  • I was reading online somewhere where someone suggested it could be the TPS sensor, or try resetting the adaptive valves in the ECM/PCM ?? said something about disconnecting the battery for 30 seconds and touching the terminals to each other??

    I'm almost willing to try anything at this point.

  • hi there,

    I have an 09 3.3ltr AWD, with exactly the same problem abrupt shift from 2nd to 3rd first shift of the day when it is cold outside.

    Any news, was a fix found? I tried the reprogramming of the computer but my vehicle has the latest software. the vehicle only has 8000kms.

    I will wait for your response

  • hi there,

    I have an 09 3.3ltr AWD, with exactly the same problem abrupt shift from 2nd to 3rd first shift of the day when it is cold outside.

    Any news, was a fix found? I tried the reprogramming of the computer but my vehicle has the latest software. the vehicle only has 8000kms.

    I will wait for your response

  • paulnzpaulnz Posts: 16
    Danny, if you look at post #18 above, I replied to your original question - I am not very concerned about it anymore - it appears (at least in my case) to be a design or quality control issue rather than a manufacturing defect. It is mildly irritating for that first upshift, but I can live with it.
  • tk65tk65 Posts: 1
    ...yep...i have the same issue from 2nd to 3rd...and appears at low temperature... at around 65F is ok and can't feel it anymore... so we have to live with it as long as is no other damage...
  • I have an 08 santa fe awd with 15,000. about 2 weeks ago i had a BAD TPS SENSOR CODE P2135, the dealer replace the tps sensor
    under TSB 09-FL-003-2
    You are right the abrupt shifting it has to do with the THROTTLE POSITION SENSOR if you google that technical service bulletin, the dealer has to do a ecu software update. the funny thing is that before the tps sensor went bad, the car did not like to down shift quickly enough when you need it the power. Now that they perform the repair the car goes tru all gears faster, and when you need power it finds the gear really quickly. However another problem was developed that it was not happening before, Once in a while when you are slowing down from about 55 or 45 mph when it comes to a stop it has a realy rought down shift from 2nd to first it literally jolts the car. i am currently trying to duplicate the actual problem, trying to get an idea of when it actually happens, that way i can take it back to the dealer and show them the problem. i am pretty sure it has to do with the transmission adaptive learning system they updated when they change the tps sensor. according to the owners manual disconnecting the battery will create some erratic shifting for the first few miles until the ecu learns your driving habbits. i will post my results from the dealer.
  • Hi, sorry for the delay in replying. I am in Edmonton AB Cdn and we have had some really cold temps this year. We were one day, the coldest place on the planet, -48 degrees celsius. At -40, celsius and farenheight are the same, so you can see that it gets real cold here sometimes.
    My Santa Fe shifts from 2nd to 3rd with a bit of a pause in between. As if the tranny does not go into 3rd as quickly as it should. This causes the vehicle to lag and then take up the slack, which results in a lurching motion and some abruptness. This only happens during the first couple of shifts.
    If I use a very light foot and make the car shift at 2000 rpms and do this very gently the car shifts without this lag or abruptness. But if I accelerate hard at all or if I am going at all up hill I will get the not smooth shift from 1st to 2nd to 3rd.
    I started this post telling you about the temps here so that you would know that I an driving this car in some really severe conditions, at times. It isn't always that cold but it does get down there and sometimes stays there for weeks.
    Just lately it has been lurching just a little when I first put into Drive to go forward. This is again the first time I do so that day. Now it doesn't do it much and most people would not even notice but like many of you I am sensitive to my vehicle and know it well enough to notice when something changes. And this little lurch, as it goes from reverse to Drive is new. So this tranny maybe has some surprises for some of us yet.

    Best of luck to you all, hope Hyundai releases a flash upgrade for the tranny some day. As I think that, that is all it may need.
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