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Anyone experience Sudden Unintended Acceleration in a Santa Fe?

We've experienced two separate instances in the past week where our 2009 Santa Fe has accelerated on it's own. Once in town at around 30mph with my wife driving and again when I was on the highway at 75-80mph. Applying the brakes did nothing, and in both instances, we had to shift the vehicle into NEUTRAL and allow the engine to rev and slam it back into gear before normal operation resumed. Let me assure you that it was NOT a fun experience. Cruise control was NOT ENGAGED, nor was this a "FLOOR MAT PROBLEM". I physically stuck my foot under the gas pedal and raised it up with no difference to the vehicles speed. It just wanted to take off. We immediately called and took the vehicle to the dealership after the most recent incident (on 12 DEC 2009) and they stated they have been unable to find anything wrong. Of course not. It was operating normally when we dropped it off too! I've filed a complaint with the NHTSA as well as with Hyundai USA. I suggested that the problem was related to the electronic throttle somewhere and even suggested they replace the Throttle Position Sensor as it may be defective. (they failed to repair or replace anything!) They want us to take the vehicle, but we do not feel safe driving it, especially since nothing was repaired or replaced! This is a serious issue, and the problem occurred with two different drivers at different times. If they're so confident there's nothing wrong, I'd like to see them put their wife and kids in the car and let them take it out on the highway.

I'd really like to know if other Santa Fe owners have also experienced unexplained sudden acceleration issues? If so, please speak up and log a complaint at NHTSA.GOV!


  • espo35espo35 Posts: 144
    I've not heard of a similar concern (I'm a Hyundai Svc. Mgr. in Northern Cal.). You mention it's happened long ago was the last time? The dealership isn't about to throw a Throttle Position Sensor at in on a whim. If your cars' onboard computer is not picking up a trouble code, and the problem doesn't happen while the car is there....and a visual inspection shows everything is okay.....there is nothing they can do EXCEPT drive the car until a code sets or it happens while they're testing it. If it only occurs once every three months, I doubt you'll want to leave your car there that long!

    I think your guess of a TPS sensor is a pretty good one. However, if they installed one and it didn't help, that would count as a repair attempt if you ever went to Lemon Law arbitration. And your quick mention of "reporting to the NHTSA" indicates you're the type of person who might go that route, rather than work with the dealership to fix your car.
  • I own a 07 Sante Fe with the 2.7 engine, I have not had this problem on mine yet and hope not to in the future, but I did have this problem on a 2004 Hyundai XG350L with 21,000 miles, it has the same "drive by wire" setup as the Sante Fe`s, It did it twice in 2008, I took it in and they checked everything and found out there was a TSB on it, they disconnected the battery for a short time and then reconnected it and said this will reset the computer and this should eliminate the probem, it did for about a year and it did it twice again, I took it back to the dealer and said they checked everything and there is nothing they can do, ( they could not DUPLICATE IT, (their favorite answer) even though it was still under warranty, they said disconncting the battery can only be done once to solve this problem, Rather than endanger my life or someone else`s I took a loss on it and trade it in. If it was not under warranty the dealer would have gladly accepted my money and replaced the Throttle Position Sensor or anything else they could think of as long as it wasn`t costing them anything and they could make money on me. My advice to you is sell it or trade it in for one that does not have this type of throttle system. Without thinking I purchased a 2009 Honda Civic for my wife and later found out it has the same system on it, no problem so far.
  • bryancosbryancos Posts: 282
    Espo35, We've BEEN working with the dealership to address the problem, but they've not been able to "duplicate the problem" after putting 200 miles on the car.
    I can't put blame on the service department, because they're only authorized to do what corporate allows them to do. The service manager at the dealership has been great, but he can only do much. The SUA incidents occurred twice in a week's time about 5-6 days apart... once while my wife was driving and had our daughter in the car, and once while I was driving it on the highway at around 75-80mph. I took it directly to the dealership immediately after it occurred when I was driving and they had our vehicle for 4 days. They were going to charge us for a loaner until we brought up the point that this was a potential safety issue and we weren't bringing the car in on a whim, we had a legitimate concern. Only after engaging a sales manager did they agree to provide a loaner at no charge. Corporate refused to allow the dealer to replace any parts. While I do understand their unwillingness to replace the TPS for fear it'll count against them as a "repair attempt", isn't it also the dealership's responsibility to attempt to repair problems? There's never any guarantee that a performed repair fixes every problem the first time. But it stands to reason that the TPS would be the first logical part to replace, before diving deeper.

    I work in IT, and when we cannot determine the exact cause of a customers system crash, we often start with replacing components such as memory and CPU to see if the problem goes away before we start replacing system boards, etc... It only makes sense that they would first try to replace the TPS and see if that resolves the problem. If the vehicle still exhibited the SUA problem, I'd simply take it back and tell them to try again. But their unwillingness to replace ANYTHING and tell a customer "we didn't find anything wrong -- here ya go, good luck - hope you don't have an accident" and hand it back over seems very irresponsible when lives are potentially at stake.
  • bryancosbryancos Posts: 282
    Lucky15, Thank you for sharing your experience. I've been in contact with NHTSA to log a complaint (simply to ensure the incidents were documented and on record with authorities should litigation become necessary) and I also opened a case with Hyundai Motor America/Hyundai USA Consumer Affairs. Of course because the dealership was unable to "duplicate the problem", they've essentially treated as an OPEN AND SHUT CASE, and while the rep I spoke to was empathetic, (that's her job afterall!) I feel the whole issue was swept under the rug. Never at any point did anyone of authority speak to me. I requested a call back from a regional rep, and even they have refused to call... I want this aired on a public forum so that other consumers can stand up for the rights and if enough owners speak up, we may have grounds to start a class action if nothing else.
  • bryancosbryancos Posts: 282
    Found this entry on another forum for a 2005 Santa Fe:

    2007-10-30 00:00:00 Brigantine, NJ
    Sudden engine acceleration when parking. this is the second time this happened. my wife was parking the car and when she put her foot on the brake (note, she is a very experienced driver and was not accidentally pushing the accelerator, also nothing on the floor was touching it.) the engine started to accelerate to full throttle, she jammed on the brake and throw it into park at which point the engine raced full speed until she turned off the key. it was ok after restarting, this is the 2nd time within a month. very dangerous condition .
  • bryancosbryancos Posts: 282
    Found this on a Consumer Reports Article comment section:
    Posted by: Charlie K. | Nov 27, 2009 1:05:29 PM

    I wonder how wide spread the sudden acceleration issue is to vehicle makes beyond the current recall. We own a 2008 Hyundai Santa Fe. My wife has frighteningly experienced this problem with our car, and the dealer mentioned receiving a Hyundai service report on the issue, although mostly concerning sudden deceleration.
  • espo35espo35 Posts: 144
    That's a pickle, all right, Briancos! Duplicating the concern is absolutely square one. Sounds like the Service Manager is on your side, and that is a good thing. You might consider seeing if he's willing to drive it home until it duplicates. I know it's a pain, but it's your best shot.
    The dealership is handcuffed until either your computer detects a fault or they reproduce the occurance. Hyundai won't pay them unless a problem is found/fixed. They won't pay a tech to drive it for days. You can try "opening a case" with Hyundai, but it just refers back to the dealership.
    Both Hyundai and the dealership want nothing more than to fix your car (and get you out of their hair!). But if they don't know what is wrong.... obviously, they can't.
    If it were me, I would pay for a new TPS to be installed (cheap part). See if the Service Manager will do it at cost. As long as it's by YOUR request, they'll do it.
  • bryancosbryancos Posts: 282
    For anyone who has experienced Sudden Unintended Acceleration regardless of make/model, here's a great resource of information on the subject: h t t p: / / suddenacceleration (dot)com.
  • bryancosbryancos Posts: 282
    espo35, I took your advice and when we went to pick up our vehicle today we spoke to someone in the front office. After some discussion, we made the formal request that a new TPS be installed, which I we agreed to pay for. They agreed to provide the part at their dealer cost plus the labor charges, so now I'm out $170 but at least now have some peace of mind that we can rule out the most likely culprit. And of course if the problem resurfaces we know that component can crossed off the list. Thanks for the input.
  • bryancosbryancos Posts: 282
    espo35, I took your advice and when we went to pick up our vehicle today we spoke to someone in the front office. After some discussion, we made the formal request that a new TPS be installed, which I we agreed to pay for. They agreed to provide the part at their dealer cost plus the labor charges, so now I'm out $170 but at least now have some peace of mind that we can rule out the most likely culprit. And of course if the problem resurfaces we know that component can crossed off the list. Thanks for the input.
  • espo35espo35 Posts: 144
    Good luck! Please let me know if you have success with this fix. Maybe I can use the info to help someone down the road!
  • espo35espo35 Posts: 144
    ps- Save your old part. Who knows but this becomes an issue later with a bunch of cars and Hyundai issues a recall. If so, you'll get your money back.

    Worth a shot!
  • The problem may still exist unfortunately, and someone could get hurt or killed because of it, I hope for your sake the new TPS solves the problem, like my vehicle the problem did not surface for the second time until a year later, each time you start up your vehicle you have to be wondering is it going to happen again or isn`t it, and am I going to be able to react fast enough. That is why I got rid of my problem, I didn`t want the worry hanging over me.
  • espo35espo35 Posts: 144
    Sounds like your car needed a priest, not a mechanic.

    By the way, you said this in your earlier post:

    "If it was not under warranty the dealer would have gladly accepted my money and replaced the Throttle Position Sensor or anything else they could think of as long as it wasn`t costing them anything and they could make money on me."

    You seem to be under the mistaken impression that the dealership pays for warranty repairs to your car.
    Truth is, the manufacturer pays the dealership for warranty repairs, so, it's absolutley in the dealers best interest to repair your car. Conversely, Hyundai pays the dealer NOTHING to disconnect your battery etc. if there is "no problem found."
  • obyoneobyone Posts: 8,054
    Truth is, the manufacturer pays the dealership for warranty repairs, so, it's absolutley in the dealers best interest to repair your car.

    Truth is the manufacturer's book time is so off it's impossible to meet unless the tech was performing the procedure twenty times a day. Warranty work isn't a money maker and profit is the name of the game.
  • bryancosbryancos Posts: 282
    It has been a little less than a month since the TPS was replaced, and so far we have not experienced a repeat occurance of Unintended Acceleration or Throttle sticking. I honestly believe that we may have had a defective sensor, in spite of the fact that it passed the dealership diagnostics. If we have a repeat incident, you can be assured I'll be letting everyone know. They charged me $170 (their cost) to replace the TPS (parts and labor) but it was relatively cheap considering the peace of mind it gave myself and my family.
  • bryancosbryancos Posts: 282
    Found another post:

    Posted by: Steve | Dec 31, 2009 9:08:02 PM

    Bryancos, we have a 2008 Hyundai Santa Fe and we have had the same exact 2 instances that you mentioned with sudden unintended acceleration, one on city streets at below 55 mph, the second one just yesterday at 75-80 mph on I-35. My wife is now afraid to drive or ride in the car. We also took it to our dealer the first time it happened, they found nothing. We will be filing the complaints as you suggested. Thank you.
  • bryancosbryancos Posts: 282
    I found this case which indicated a problem with a faulty Throttle Position Sensor.. only in this instance the vehicle would not accelerate... Still, it provides evidence that a TPS can and does cause trouble!

    NHTSA.GOV: ODI ID Number : 10286003

    Make: HYUNDAI
    Model: SANTA FE

    Year: 2008
    Complaint Number: 10286003
  • As noted earlier my wife had an unexpected acceleration incident on Jan 17 with our 2008 Santa Fe. After researching this problem on Edmunds (here) I took it into a local hyundai dealer and explained to them what hapened... They tok it for a test drive and the problem did not re occur; however, I told them about the possibility of it being in the ACM. they kept it overnight and then researched the part and the dealer found that there was an updated ACM part.They replaced it free of charge and I now have some piece of mind. They were skeptical at first but did change out the part but it did take pointing them to the items discussed on this post. Thanks to all...
  • I have had this exact same problem with my 2005 XG350. It occurs randomly, and not very often, when accelerating from a stop. It is very disorienting when it happens, as at first I don't realize that it is the car's error and try to correct. Given the big problems with Toyota, I suspect it is only the relatively fewer number of Hyundai products being sold that have kept this from being in a similar recall.

    While I agree that the dealer is likely to want to fix it, corporate is going to be very reluctant to acknowledge the problem, as it represents a huge liability potential whether they issue a recall or just fix those cars that are presented with the problem.

    As it is an intermittent problem (just as it is with Toyota), it is next to impossible to document. Your only real hope is that it will miraculously happen at the time the Hyundai tech test drives it.

    I had unhooked my battery on many occasions for other reasons, and that did NOT manage to cure the problem. Worth a try, I suppose, but it didn't work for me.

    I would like to encourage all Hyundai owners with this problem to document it with the dealer and with the government. Intermittent, non-replicable issues like this will only get attention if there is sufficient volume of complaints.
  • I experienced sudden unintended acceleration with my Santa Fe while driving on the freeway in San Diego. Like you, I put the car in neutral to pull over and stop. I left the car with North County Hyundai in Carlsbad, California and told them to keep the car until they fix the problem. The first time they took the car for a test drive, nothing happened. Fortunately, the service manager decided to take the car for a test drive, and he experienced the unintended acceleration. They kept the car for a week and replaced the main computer along with the complete throttle assembly. I kept the car for a few months before buying another car. I did not have any problems with the car after it was fixed.
  • atengateng Posts: 1
    Does anybody know if there is a recall for a defective batch of TPS. A month after getting my Santa Fe I had a problem with the TPS. The engine seems to the reving up and down. They replace the TPS but the same problem occured after about eight monts where they changed the sensor and then happened again after a couple of weeks which almost killed me and my two boys. I lost accelerating power on a left turn which almost T-forked me with an incoming truck. They replaced the whole assembly again. But it does not remove my worries now with the TPS, especially when the dealer is giving me all sorts of excuses (even with a loaner ...I have extended warranty). I though I let the consumers know what they are getting into.
  • Yes yes yes, and you will find others if you look at Our experience is as follows. Last April our 2005 low mileage Hyundai Santa Fe automatic suddenly took off like a Formula One car from a near standstill whilst being parked, and we had witnesses to the occurrence who can verify this. It shot through a closed garage door, ripping it off its very substantial mechanism and crashed into the rear wall of our garage, causing extensive damage to both vehicle and property, and some personal injury. Luckily no-one was in front of the vehicle - as they might well have been in order to open the garage - otherwise they would have been killed. Hyundai denied all knowledge of anything like this having occurred elsewhere, despite the fact that we found other examples. It is only now that the Toyota debacle is getting so much publicity that we have been able to find out just how widespread the problem is, with a whole range of vehicles - if only we had heard the expression SUA sooner our searches would have been easier. Hyundai are a bunch of liars who should be held to account - it is lucky for them that there have been no fatalities YET with their cars.
  • espo35espo35 Posts: 144
    Did your insurance pay for the cars' repair? Don't you think, if there was even a remote possibility that it was Hyundais' fault, that your insurance co. would go after them?
  • I had the same problem with my XG350, mine was a 2004, the first time the dealer said there was a TSB on it and he disconnected the battery, it didn`t do again until a year later, took it in and they said there is nothing they can do since disconnecting the battery to solve the problem only works one time, my solution, I sold it at a loss, not worth getting someone killed or badly injured over. Ever since I sold mine in 2009 I have seen fewer and fewer 350`s on the road which leads me to believe others like yourself are having the problems as well. These manufacturers need to get the act together, the lawsuits are starting to roll in. I really miss the car, other than the problem I had with sudden accelaration, it was really nice, I especially liked the drivers seat that would adjust automatically for you when you got in or out.
  • espo35espo35 Posts: 144
    There is and never was any TSB which said anything about disconnecting the battery of ANY Hyundai for ANYTHING.....least of all to make a warning light go off.
  • The insurers don't work like that - they seem uninterested in the cause of the accident as there was no other vehicle involved, and in the scheme of things the amounts involved are small to them. However, the uninsured costs and knock-on effects are very significant for us. More to the point though, this is far from an isolated incident, we have an independent engineer's opinion regarding the fault with the car - which Hyundai refused to take into account because it was not their engineer, and they very clearly lied in denying knowledge of this type of occurrence. The internet is absolutely littered with incidents of SUA involving a range of vehicles over decades, and pretty much without exception the manufacturers have denied responsibility. There is even a book on the subject. It is only the power of a huge number of disgruntled Toyota owners and the media that is getting this subject investigated, and this is long long overdue
  • Second reply - having identified that you are a Hyundai Service Manager it would be in your interests to make this sort of comment. The documented history of SUA is sufficient for every motor industry employee to be aware of it, and to be aware that it is not something they can expect to duplicate at will, so how come everyone in the industry just denies responsibility? Truth is they just don't know enough about either designing complex systems or diagnostics.
  • bryancosbryancos Posts: 282
    I urge you and anyone else who has experienced Sudden Unintended Acceleration or any other safety issues on their Hyundai Santa Fe (or ANY Hyundai model for that matter since parts are likely shared between models) to PLEASE LOG A FORMAL COMPLAINT WITH THE NATIONAL HIGHWAY TRAFFIC SAFETY ADMINISTRATION (NHTSA) EITHER VIA THEIR WEBSITE:

    Direct link to the online complaint form:

    Call the Hotline, Monday-Friday 8am to 8pm at
    (888) 327-4236 , TTY: (800) 424-9153.

    If a problem isn't documented with them, it doesn't really help the rest of us to force the manufacturer to take responsiblity... so speak up and ensure you get the problem in their database!
  • bryancosbryancos Posts: 282
    Some Additional excerpts from (thanks stannards!) Including them here for additional reference:

    2007-06-01 00:00:00 Neenah, WI

    Fast acceleration from a stop sign. not all the time but every so often. it snaps your head and neck back. have had it in to dealership and they told me i didn't know how to drive a censor accelerator vehicle. all new hyundai's are supposed to have this but no one else seems to have a problem.
    2009-07-06 11:31:58 UK/South Africa

    The exact same thing happened to us in April 2009, with our low mileage Santa Fe 2.7 automatic, with serious consequences - the vehicle slammed through a closed garage door doing major damage to vehicle and property and causing some injuries, but had someone been in front opening the garage door they would have been killed. An independent engineer has identified a design and/or manufacturing fault with the accelerator and automatic choke cables, but Hyundai don't want to know and claim this is not something that has happened before - what a bunch of liars!! We are gathering evidence to take legal action and want all Hyundai drivers to demand checks on their vehicles. Look at Youtube for video evidence.

    2007-03-17 00:00:00 Allen, TX

    I am the owner of a 2005 santa fe w/a 3.5l engine. i've recently taken my vehicle in to have some warranty items taken care of. i asked that my car also be fixed in regards to an acceleration concern. for example: 1. while departing from a stopped position, the car will violently jerk your head back. this occurs while barely touching the accelerator. 2. when the car is in motion i can feel it surging forward and back. i have had several people drive the car to make sure it wasn't me, and they all experienced the same results. when the service manager at a hyundai dealership drove the car, he at first said he didn't feel anything. then, after further complaint by me, he admitted that, "well, there was a little bit of surge, but that's just because it's the type of engine". i asked what could be done about it and he told me, "nothing, that's just the way it is. they've had several complaints and now they don't use that engine anymore." i said it felt like it was getting worse over time and he said, "it probably is, but there is still nothing they can do about it". hyundai was apparently aware that there is a concern of safety with this engine since they no longer use the engine and are manufacturing their santa fe's with an improved, safer engine. i am at the point where i no longer feel as if i am driving a safe vehicle and i am getting tired of people asking me why my car jerks forward. (the car snaps your head back and i do not want to be held accountable if someone gets hurt.) there are numerous complaints to the nhtsa and i do not want to be killed or kill someone on the road because my car concerns were not addressed by the appropriate administration of hyundai. if the nhtsa has yet to formally force hyundai into fixing this issue, i am requesting that now is the time to do so. hyundai's lack of interest in the safety of their customers and the general public is unacceptable.

    2006-09-13 00:00:00 Rancho Palos Verdes, CA

    Dt: the contact stated while stopped at a red light, the vehicle lurched forward without warning. the vehicle stopped after applying brake pressure, placing the vehicle in park, and turning off the ignition. the vehicle was towed to a dealer who was unable to duplicate the problem, but suggested that the contact should not use floor gear shift of the automatic transmission as though it were a manual transmission while driving. the manufacturer was alerted.

    2005-12-27 00:00:00 Winston Salem, NC

    Dt: while the contact was pulling into a parking place the vehicle surged, causing the engine to rev above 6500 rpms. the vehicle accelerated and took off on its own. he reported having no problems with the vehicle prior to the above incident. he has not taken the vehicle to a dealer.

    2005-11-25 00:00:00 Narragansett, RI

    When put into reverse 2005 santa fe engine roared. the consumer had no control over the vehicle. with the vehicle still in reverse, the consumer crashed into a neighbors deck causing a considerable amount of damage to the vehicle and the deck. the consumer had a left foot accelerator installed on the vehicle and wondered if that was the cause of the sudden acceleration.

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