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Hyundai Sonata Maintenance and Repair



  • I'm having the dimming problem also (on an '02 Sonata GLS V6), but not just with the lights. The A/C fan, interior lights and radio all dim occasionally when the car is idling, but improve when I accelerate. The car also refused to start on one occasion (until the tow truck arrived, when the car started without problem).

    Dealer found nothing wrong with the car. The problem appeared again today. Have people met resistance getting dealers to replace the alternator? Any other potential solutions?
  • ray_h71ray_h71 Posts: 212
    Under a heavy electical load*, the symptoms you describe may be normal to some degree. but, to be safe, check the battery ground connections to the frame and engine (And at the battery, check both the ground and positive connections, too.). Also check the positve connection to the starter motor. If these are not TIGHT, you may get more of the symptoms you described. If your car is operated mainly in city driving, your battery might not be at its fullest charge, either.

    *Lights and AC simultaneously at idle put a heavy load on the battery until acceleration allows the alternator to kick in with higher current delivery.
  • I have an 02 Sonata. Last Thursday, after a day of running errands around town, it suddently wouldn't crank. I cleaned the battery terminal, a *little* corrosion, and let it sit for an hour -- then it started on its own. I drove it into town with A/C, radio and headlights on -- no problem. Had AutoZone check the charging system -- came up a bad battery and a bad diode on the alternator. I called Hyundai America and they authorized me to replace the battery. Car ran fine, but the alternator still showed bad diode on their test. My wife then drove the car to San Antonio (10 hours). She took the car to the Hyundai dealership there to have them replace the bad alternator -- Hyundai said the alt was fine. She went to AutoZone, Checker and NAPA (or Pep Boys, can't remember) and had charging system checked ... they **ALL** said the alternator was bad. She brought it to the Hyundai dealership in Las Cruces (an hour drive each way from where we live) today ... they said the alternator is fine.
    Granted the alternator *IS* charging and all ... but why the discrepancy? Also, we've had the batter replaced TWICE before this last weekend... So yeah, I'm having a little trouble getting Hyundai to replace the alternator. But as far as dimming lights, I've never noticed that...
  • ray_h71ray_h71 Posts: 212
    Bizarre, alright. You've got a 95 amp alternator regardless which engine your car's equipped with. The batteries supplied with the I4 engine are rated at 60 amp-hours, and 68 amp-hours with the V6 ingine. In short your car's equipped with the proper equipment to handle the electrical load of desert southwest heat and the expected heavy A/C use. But, you're on your 3rd battery in less than two years? Bellyache to Hyundai America again. It should have occurred to someone by now that your batteries are prematurely failing for a reason. But, maybe you'll have to present the idiots with another premature battery failure... I personally damaged a Toyota alternator with a jump-start mis-cabling. The alternator still "put out" sufficiently that the "Charge" light in the instrument cluster didn't light up. But within two weeks the engine failed to start. Two diodes were blown. The other four were allowing reduced charging.
  • ewis77ewis77 Posts: 3
    See my response to #518 in the Hyundai/Santa Fe thread. It gives you the answer if your cables are clean.
  • ewis77ewis77 Posts: 3
    Both of my front windows have done this and they havent replaced anything yet. They say the regulators are fine, but they sure make alot of noise so I am going to another dealership now.
  • What has started as a PERFECT car, is starting to concern me. I have had a couple of problems that tells me that I am going to get more serious problems shortly. Most likely when my warranty coverage ends.

    1. I had to take it to the dealership around 5000 miles because of a sound and DRAG on engine when I had engaged my A/C. Problem was trash in the A/C well, which they removed, and then after the repair, they washed my car totally inside and out.

    2. I have a hard shifting problem between 2 and 3 gear when the engine is still car. More like a minor slamming.

    3. Now my right passenger side power window is stuck half way down. I can bring it all the way down, but only half way up. Bringing it up gives me a "sticking" sound and then it stops at halfway.

  • ray_h71ray_h71 Posts: 212
    1> Do you keep your car garaged or covered?

    2> I have one abrupt 2-3 shift when the car is first driven from a cold start. This seems prevalent with this automatic transaxle. I figure it's Hyundai's problem for 10 years or 100,000 miles. The rest of the time all shifts are silken. One thing, if you've gotten your transmission fluid drained and refilled, or are considering doing so, it's IMPERATIVE that you only use a Mitsubishi "SP-III" specification fluid! There are three sources for this specification fluid - Mitsubishi, Hyundai, and Kia. Use of anything else will rapidly result in poor shift quality and is highly likely to result in eventual transaxle failure. Any evidence that transaxle damage was due to use of the wrong fluid would void your powertrain warranty coverage for transaxle repair. Very few, if any, independent transmission shops will use the required factory fluid. They prefer to use commonly available GM specification "Dexron-III" bulk fluid with a top-off of a supplement, mostly available only to the trade, that claims it optimizes "Dexron-III" specification ATF to the car maker's own ATF specification. It doesn't. (Many car makers are now specifying their own proprietary, heavily friction modified ATFs these days.) As far as I'm aware, real "SP-III" ATF is ONLY available through Hyundai, Kia, and Mitsubishi dealers. You can look at Wall*Mart, K-mart, Pep Boys, NAPA, Autozone, etc., but you won't find it. I picked up a bottle at a Kia dealer to carry in the trunk for top-up purposes. As sold under the Kia brand, it was $3.99/qt. The Hyundai brand was $4.50/qt. Both carried the same catalog number though the labels differed by brand name. (Hyundai owns Kia, now.) The Mitsubishi "SP-III" ATF was $6.00/qt. <gag> My 2003 Sonata only has ~6,800 miles on it so it still has the factory-fill fluid in the tranny. I intend to drain the transaxle and refill it myself at 12,000 miles.

    3> Some of the power window regulators on the pre-2003 Sonatas and XG350s have been troublesome. There was a running change in these mechanisms in late 2002. Your car may be equipped with the troubled units. Since your car is less than 5 years old, if it has fewer than 60,000 miles, and you reside in the U.S., a replacement should be covered under your car's "basic" warranty. Get hoppin'.
  • I have had my new 2002 Hyundai Sonata for less than a year. I have 19500 miles on it. I heard this awful metal grinding noise in the back. I brought it in and they said the rear brakes had worn out and ruined the rotors. THe dealer said that brake wear is not covered under warrenty. I have never heard of brakes wearing out in less than 20000 miles and in less than a year. Is this normal. They are charging me $400.
  • ray_h71ray_h71 Posts: 212
    I agree that pad wear-out in that short of mileage seems unusual. Am I correct in assuming the rotors have to be replaced, too, or were the audible wear indicators the source of the "banshee" screech? However, you may be SOL. Hyundai will cover "normal consummables" only up to the first 12,000 miles or normal replacement interval, whichever comes first. Brake pads are subject to too many variables (terrain, driving style, etc.) to give a hard and fast expected wear rate, so the warranty is generous in covering pad replacement at all. (There ARE the little grannies who mercilessly ride the brake pedal.) Since the rear rotors have a "top hat" drum for the parking brake to work off of, I'm wondering whether your parking brake cable's slack was misadjusted. If that's the case, you may be entitled to reimbursement consideration for a factory defect. You'd need to request your dealer contact the zone rep. for authorization. Otherwise, you could submit a copy of the repair invoice and a cover letter stating your position to Hyundai Customer Care for reimbursement consideration.
  • Well the dealership felt it was a little unusual as well. I was made an offer to pay 1/4th the repair costs. After investigating I did find the warrenty does cover only to 12000 miles but under New York State Lemon law its covered two years or 18000 miles so I was still over the milage. I think I was lucky that they paid the majority of it. Rotors and all. I also realized that I have not had the tires rotated or brakes inspected at 6000 mile intervals. NOW I know. I thought it was part of the regular service> I was wrong. So make sure you know what is exactly being done during service. Have those brakes checked before it costs $$$$. Thanks Town Hall
  • mkokomkoko Posts: 1
    I too have an 02 Sonata with the electrical problem. My car recently had problems starting (like a dead battery), but when I took it to the dealer, they told me nothing was wrong with the battery or charging system. Then the vehicle constantly cranked slow when starting, and at times when idleing everything would dim (lights, ac blower). A few times the power level got so low that the ABS and TCS warning lights started to malfunction. I had the charge system tested at autozone, and they told me the alternator was going bad. I confirmed this by running a voltage meter to the inside of the car and monitoring the voltage of the electrical system. After the car is running for a good 15 - 30 minutes, when at idle, the voltage would drop to 10-11 volts, and at times even lower than that. I also notice that after the car warms up a bit the voltage the alternator puts out while the car is driving drops form around 13.9 - 14.2 down to around 13.0 - 13.5. There is definately something wrong with the alternator, but the dealer would not replace it for the life of me. The advisor even went as far as telling me that voltage has nothing to do with the alternator. They replaced the battery, and told me everything is great now. But my voltage meter still shows the voltage drops down to around 12.0 - 12.4 volts at idle (because the battery is new and keeps the electrical running when the alternator stops putting out the proper power.

    Some of you posted that you talked to your regional rep, and had the problem resolved. How do I go about doing this? I really want a different alternator in this car. I don't want to have to change my battery yearly, and the fact that the car isn't working properly really bothers me. Any insight would be greatly appreciated.
  • ray_h71ray_h71 Posts: 212
    1> Tell the dealer you want a conference between you, him, and a Hyundai rep. or,

    2> Write or call Hyundai Customer Customer Care (The contact address and phone number are in your "Hyundai {whatever year} Owner's Handbook & Warranty Information" pamphlet.) to set up the meeting yourself. Expect the meeting to be at their convenience, not yours, since the reps like to schedule them with dealers to allow a number of issues to be dealt with every once or twice a month for efficiency.
  • Gentlemen:
    Did anyone change the transm. fluid and filter on a 2002 Sonata GLS? My car dealer is about 30 miles away and I would like to do the job my self.
    This is my first foreign car. I have been doing my own maintenance (on American cars) for 30 years.
    Your input would be greatly appreciated!
  • My friend borrowed my car and drove it in 3rd at120 mph off and on for about 4 hrs. And the check engine light came on. The engine still runs good and only for like 30 mins at one time did the belt slip and wouldn't go past 80 in 3rd. I was wondering if this means he screwed up my trans or does it just mean that it needs a tuneup? And I was wondering why doesn't the sonata have overdrive?
  • The Sonata DOES have overdrive, as most cars today do. It's the fourth gear on your selector. Even GM and Chrysler finally retired the last of their 3-speed transmissions. Your post is either a bad joke or you need to stop loaning out your car.
  • ray_h71ray_h71 Posts: 212
    jimsider, like Honda automatics, the Sonata trannie does not have a user serviceable filter. There's no bottom "pan" as such, but there is a drain plug mounted on the bottom of the transmission. The Hyundai "new generation" trannie has a valve body "pan" visible from the top front of the car. Do NOT attempt to remove it. There's no filter there. I don't know the size of the drain plug, but it's a big'un and you'll probably have to buy the socket - I doubt you'll have one in your kit unless you're really well equipped. (I'd appreciate your posting back what socket size this plug takes since I'll be doing my first fluid change-out at about the 12,000 mile mark, myself.) The latest fluid "recommendation" is for a proprietary fluid, Genuine Hyundai SP-III, Diamond (Mitsubishi) SP-III, or SK SP-III (Korean, other Asian markets, and maybe Australia/New Zealand only, I believe). Kia (owned by Hyundai) also has its own SP-III spec fluid (curiously with exactly the same catalog number as the "Hyundai" brand fluid). In my area the Kia SP-III fluid is nearly a dollar cheaper at $3.99/qt., so check around if you're within driving distance of both makes. The Mitsubishi fluid was priced highest. To my knowledge there are NO aftermarket or major oil company suppliers of SP-III AT fluids, so forget hitting the Autozone, Pep Boys, K-mart, Wal-Mart trail. SP-III fluid is mandated for 2002 and newer Hyundai automatics and "strongly" recommended for earlier boxes when SP-II is specified. (It does improve shift-quality considerably.) Whatever you do, do NOT use good ol' G.M. "Dexron" I, II, or III spec. "universal" AT fluid. You'll get harsh shifts and torque convertor lockup "judder" within a few hundred miles. Type "F" AT fluids would be even worse. Left in long enough, Dexron will cause damage to the proprietary clutch and brake friction facings internally. At that point you'd be looking at an expensive trannie rebuild. These boxes take 8.2 quarts of fluid. The Sonata shop manual recommends removing the return line from the transmission cooler at the transmission, starting the engine, and directing the fluid flow into a suitably sized container. This will remove just about all the fluid and flush the cooler simultaneously. You'd need someone to watch to let you know when fluid stops flowing so you can shut the engine off before the trannie runs more than a few seconds dry (not good). The shop manual recommends two flushes this way, minimum - additional if there's evidence of burnt fluid on the original drain (smokey odor and the loss of the expected bright red color). Personally, I don't plan to follow this proecedure. For one thing I don't like the notion of molesting the transmission's return port any more than necessary. (Overtorqueing the line connection to the point of stripping the soft aluminum threads can leave you with a real bad day.) I also don't like the notion of potentially damaging the trannie with ANY dry running, regardless how briefly. There is an alternative. Honda recommends in their Accord owners' manuals to simply drain the trannie through the drain plug, refilling, driving several miles to mix the new and remaining fluid, and then repeating the procedure two more times. Honda claims those three drain-refill cycles will flush all the old fluid out very effectively, but I plan a fourth cycle on my Sonata just to be certain. (I did just that on my old '96 Accord, and it all worked like a charm.) Have a new drainplug washer handy, but you probably won't really need it. Use the old washer during your drain/refill cycles and wipe the case down dry. Unless you see evidence of leakage on your return home each time, the old one is good to go. However, if you DON'T have a new one handy, you KNOW what'll happen...
  • I don't see that anyone else has reported this problem, but the last time I had my car washed I noticed that there were small rust spots, ranging in size of a pin head to 1/8 inch all over the car. Our Sonata is silver and we've only had it for about 6 months. :( Is anyone else experiencing this problem (better go check!) and if so, what are you/have you done? I'm going to call our salesman, but I'm already anticipating a drawn-out process of getting the problem taken care of.
  • ray_h71ray_h71 Posts: 212
    The salesman? Get real - he's not gonna fix your car. Take your car to your, or another, Hyundai dealershop's -SERVICE DEPARTMENT-. By the way, if you dig your "Hyundai 2003 Owner's Handbook & Warranty Information" booklet out of the glovebox (it's packed in with all the other Hyundai crap that no one but me bothers to read in that cheesy vinyl foldout pouch), you'll discover on page 16 that general paint repairs are covered for 3 years/36,000 miles, and cosmetic imperfections visible at delivery are covered for 1 year/12,000 miles. Another thing to consider: those spots might not really be rust. Insect droppings look for all the world like rust, too.
  • I bought a new 4 cyl. Sonata on Aug. 8, within 3 weeks I was having the brake pedal suddenly "drop" at lights intermittently, the car pulled to the right, and seemed to be losing some of it's pep. I noticed the gas gauge never went to full either. I took it in and all they did was add some brake fluid.

    The following week I had to take it in as the belt was squeaking, and they adjusted the belt, gave it an alignment and said all was well.

    The following week, I had to have it towed in as the knocking noise from the engine scared me half to death, I didn't know what was wrong. They said they needed to replace the belt as adjusting it hadn't fixed the problem. Driving it home after this it seemed to have regained some of it's pep and the air conditioner ran cooler.

    Has anyone else experienced any of these problem? Isn't it unusual for a belt to be bad at only 300 miles?

    I need to take it in again this week in order to have the gas gauge fixed as it still never goes all the way to full. It goes to 7/8 if you fill it and then within 50 or so miles it is down to 1/4 of a tank. They told me to bring it in at at a 1/4 of a tank, and I asked which 1/4 the real one, or the one it says, as I wouldn't know when it is really at 1/4.

    Is anyone having any of these problems?
  • Ray thanks so much for your informative response.
    I plan to follow your advice in a few months.
    The socket size for the drain plug is 15/16 of an inch (or 24mm). I used the 15/16 because that is what I have available. If you are willing to buy it it costs around $4.00
    Many thanks again.
    Take good care!
  • Karen_SKaren_S Posts: 5,095
    Someone over in Elantra Owners is having a similar problem. One suggestion is that it could be due to "rail dust".

    Elantra Owners: Problems & Solutions.

    Edmunds Manager UGC Click on my screen name to send a personal message. Need help navigating? Check out Getting Started in Edmunds Forums.
    Need help picking out a make/model, finding inventory, or advice on pricing? Talk to an Edmunds Car Shopping Advisor

  • ray_h71ray_h71 Posts: 212
    If the serpentine belt failed at 300 miles or 600 miles (which was it?), it may have been installed incorrectly at the factory or just been a bad belt. If just one rib of a serpentine belt hangs over the edge of just one pulley, the belt will be chewed up very quickly. The gas gauge on my '03 Sonata does go to "full" upon fillup. (My last car, a '96 Honda Accord, had a gas gauge that went "ABOVE" full. Go figure.) I've now got 7,500 miles on my Sonata and the needle doesn't drop to the 3/4 mark until 110 miles have lapsed since fillup. But, when the car was bright-shiny brand new, it hit the 3/4 mark at about 75 miles. Why would this be? The engine was still breaking in. As to why your gas gauge never reads above the 7/8 point, the two most likely causes that cross my mind are either a faulty gauge or a faulty tank-mounted sending unit. Either will be covered under your basic 3 year/36,000 mile warranty, so don't get too alarmed yet. These really are pretty well designed and built cars, but Hyundai, like all other car manufacturers, is subject to the whims of suppliers' QC and Hyundai happy-merry worker bad hair days.
  • ray_h71ray_h71 Posts: 212
    THANK you, Jim! You saved me some time and now I know exactly what I need and what I should expect to pay. Inch and metric, no less!
  • I have an '03 Sonata and had to make 4 trips during one week to dealer because "ck eng" kept coming on. I have only had this car 90 days and ever since I've had it the blower speed flucuates as though it is in "AUTO". I spoke to serv tech about it and they told me they could not duplicate the problem. It continues sporadically, so I called and I am told the same thing. Has anyone else had this problem and have you found corp office (Hyundai National Consumer Affairs) to be very rude? In essence, I'm being told there is nothing they can do about this unless it can be duplicated. They have not offered to keep my car for an extended time to do this. During the last visit for the "ck eng light" I had to force the issue for them to keep it until it was fixed and demand alternate transportation.
  • ray_h71ray_h71 Posts: 212
    I'm unsure what your current complaint is - the "Check Engine" light or the fluctuating HVAC blower speed.

    If you're still having the light come on, take your car to a different Hyundai dealer. Any Hyundai tech worth his salt would know to hook up the diagnostics scan tool and read the malfunction code(s) that are stored from an initial "Check Engine" light event to have a reference from which to further diagnose the problem(s). The onboard diagnostic code generators common to all current cars are a great idea, but it still takes good ol' fashioned sleuthing skill to come up with the final diagnosis.

    If your complaint currently is the fluctuating HVAC blower speed, you may or may not really have a problem. Some fluctuation is to be expected in heavy stop-and-go traffic with the blower on high and the air conditioning operating. These are high electrical load devices and can tax both battery and alternator at crawl speeds. However, if the starter motor sounds like it's laboring to start the engine, you may have an undercharged or defective battery. If the battery is undercharged, there could be numerous causes including poorly tightened cables at the battery, the alternator, and/or the starter motor. But, it could also be more complicated including a faulty alternator, or even the starter motor - which would put higher demand on the battery to crank the engine at startup. All of these devices CAN be tested on the car, and Hyundai's shop manual details the individual procedures how to do it. Doesn't sound like your dealer's electrical tech(?) wants to bother which is why I initially advised seeking out another Hyundai dealer for help.

    And, if there's a constant under-voltage in the electrical system, THAT could also be responsible for (wait for it) a "Check Engine" light event in some cases.
  • Hi, my AC recently burned out and i got a new compressor installed, but it keeps burning out! Whenever it burns out, the AC belt keeps breaking and falling off... is there a problem with my engine? Now the ck engine light keeps coming on and my engine idles at around 2000rpm.

    Any suggestions?

  • ray_h71ray_h71 Posts: 212
    The entire A/C compressor "burns out"? Or the clutch? If the clutch keeps failing, I'd wonder whether the installer(?) is tightening too much tension into the belt. That could cause A/C compressor clutch bearing failure and maybe A/C compressor bearing failure, too. However, if the A/C compressor, itself, keeps failing internally, I'd have to wonder if the installer(?) is bothering to add the required amount of -synthetic- refrigerant oil in... (1994 and later A/Cs on all U.S. and Canadian cars use arctic ozone layer-friendly R-134 refrigerant and this stuff requires a special, rather pricey, synthetic refrigerant oil. Not all the pressurized refrigerant oils-in-'o-can comply.) If the A/C compressor seizes up from lack of lubrication (or -proper- lubrication), the belt would shriek like a banshee before shearing. I have no idea whether your "Check Engine" indicator light is somehow related to your A/C compressor problem or not. But, it does sound like you need to have the stored error codes read and the mechanical malfunctions attended to by a Hyundai dealer service department. Diagnosing computerized car engine problems has pretty much gone beyond the capababilities of shadetree mechanics these days.
  • My battery light has come on on 3 different occassions. The last time it came on, my car began to have a burning smell and the rear defroster would not work. I called the mechanic I usually use, and he said it sounded like the alternator. He told me to stop after work, and he would take a quick glance at it. I did, and he also noted the smell and checked the battery. He said I was "running on juice" and not to run anything (radio, lights, etc.). He said to take it to the dealership for the warrenty. I did, and the dealer told me "nothing is wrong with the car". Now, the rear defrost is working, the battery light is off, and it is not smelling. However, I still question whether this could be the alternator. Obviously, something is wrong with the car, or I would not have had these problems. However, since it didn't do it for the dealer, they are saying it is fine. I just picked it up tonight and am frustrated, fearing that is surely going to happen again (hopefully not on my way to work one morning!). I've read a lot about alternator problems from other people. Did you also experience the burning smell? Has anyone else experienced the burning smell, battery problem,and/or rear defrost problem? Please help me!
  • ray_h71ray_h71 Posts: 212
    If it were my car, I'd take it to a different dealer, pronto. Doesn't sound like your selling dealer's service department want to bother running some basic electrical system diagnoses. You may have an intemittant overcharge condition that could end up damaging the battery or the car's wiring harness. Your temporary loss of the rear window defroster sounds like a circuit breaker was saving your bacon.
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