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Hyundai Sonata Transmission Problems



  • HelIo Group:
    First time poster here. To start, I am the original owner of a 2003 Sonata V6 GL. I have 148K miles on it. I recently was experiencing a hesitation of in the automatic transmission when going over 60mph. The engine light then came on shortly after. Brought the car to my mechanic, he connected it to the computer and it stated "torque converter" and some other odd codes he did not hear tell before. He told me to bring it to the dealer so they can give me a better diagnosis. They came out the "torque converter", misfire cylinder in 5 and 6. I had the dealer replace this converter. When I went to pay, its states "solenoid + harness" replacement ($782.00) on the bill. When I ask the clerk why it does not say torque converter he states it was the same thing. What do i know?? He did state the car needs a tune and it was time for the timing belt and water pump to be replaced; their quote: 800 for tune up and 900 for timing belt and water pump. Had to hold off on those repairs to $$. When I drove it home the still was hesitating going over 60mph. I figured it was the misfiring. I brought to my mechanic to do the other needed service for half the price. Well to my dismay the car still has a gear transition problem. Brought it back to the dealer and they called me and said I now need a new transmission The quote was 3k-factory refurbish 0 miles with a 1 year warranty. I am very upset with all of this!! I don't know what to do. Should I just buy a new car or have the transmission replaced. Any thoughts?... Comments?? Thanks
  • we owned a 03 Sonata V-6, bought new 11/02. It had less than 200 miles when the transmission would lock up in 2nd (automatic) and the check engine light would come on. We would slowly drive it to the dealer where they would hook it up to the computer (not like in the olden days when they had to take things apart to diagnose the problem). and it would show a code. They would replace parts and it would be ok for awhile. After the transmission locked up 4 times we called Hyundai Corp. (we let the dealer know we were doing that since they did go out of there way to try to fix it). A rep came from Hyundai and gave the dealer the ok to replace the transmission. It had less than 4,000 miles. We ended up trading that car in for a 05 Elanta GT with MT. On 7/26 while having that serviced we ended up trading it for a '11 Venetian Red 6MT Sonata. Excellent car after 4,000+ miles. Personally I would trade it. Our elantra had 100,000+ miles.
  • Violent downshift experienced at 55 mph. Had this car 2 weeks & tranny started leaking. After much fighting, tranny replaced then violent downshit so many times it even did it to 1 of the svc techs AND threw a code! They replaced the computer. What a nightmare this car has been! I want to give it back to them! It has 7,000 miles on it & is 7 months old.
  • My 2011..yes 2011 only lasted 2 weeks! It's now 7 months old...has been in the shop a total of 48 days...had new transmission & new computer & I want to scream! I want to give it back! Hyundai Motor America is a nightmare to deal with! This car has cost me personal expenses...time...stress...& it a is a Huge Deal to me! 3get the warranty....I would rather have a reliable car!
  • nj2pa2ncnj2pa2nc Posts: 813
    edited October 2010
    sounds like what happened to our 03 sonata. It would make a noise, lock up in 2nd and the check engine light would come on. The transmission was finally replaced at less than 4,000 miles. We then traded the car for a 05 elantra with manual transmission. It had over 100,000 problem free miles when we traded it for the 11 sonata with manual transmission. It now has almost 8,000 problem free miles (knock-on-wood). The dealer we bought these cars from is excellent and they did go out of their way to be helpful. The 03 sonata was 2 days old with less than 100 miles when the transmission locked up the first time. They also reprogramed the computer
    My mom's 08 honda accord's transmission locked up and was replaced under warranty. The car had less than 10,000 miles.
    Why were you dealing with Hyundai Motor America in the first place? The vehicle is under warranty, you should not have to fight with anybody over anything. You should have had a loaner vehicle while yours was being repaired. Sounds to me like the service team at that dealer dropped the ball.
  • I purchased my 2011 Sonata on June 7, 2010 and since then it has been in the shop 3 times due to the transmission slipping into 1st gear while driving. The indicator shows "D" for drive, however, the rpm's are up to 5 & 6 at 40mph. I am not a car person, but I know enough to know that when my car does a hard jerk then remains in 1st gear w/o shifting at all, then I know that I have a transmission problem.

    I have taken it to the dealer 3 times and its unfortunate that they are not able to find anything on the computer chip, yet they always reset the chip back to factory specs. Here in the state of MD it has to be 4 times to qualify for a lemon, which is what I think I have. It is also unfortunate that this issue has only ever happend when I am in the car alone...I would love for someone to be in the car with me to witness and feel what I do. :(
  • nj2pa2ncnj2pa2nc Posts: 813
    edited November 2010
    It sounds like what happened to our 03 sonata. It would make a wierd noise, lock up in 2nd (even tho it was in drive) and the check engine light would come on. The first time it happened the car has less than 100 miles. The dealer would hook the car up to the computer which would show a code. They would replace that part. It would be good for awhile and then do the exact same thing again. After the 4th time we told them we wanted to call hyundai customer service. (the dealer was excellent and did go out of their way to be helpful). Hyundai sent someone to look over our car and they authorized a transmission replacement. We did finally trade the car in for a 05 elantra with manual transmission. We traded that car in with over 100,000 problem free miles on 7/27 for a '11 sonata also with MT. It now has 8,000+problem free miles (knock-on-wood)
  • I have a 2011 Sonata. 3 weeks old with 2100 miles. On Monday I was driving at 45 mph and the car shutters, makes a loud clunking noise. It slipped out of gear. I stop and the transmission is not shifting correctly. I had it towed to the dealer and they tell me that its working fine and they cannot replicate the problem. They did say there was a error code in the history and that they needed to replace a sensor. 3 days and still no car back. At least the dealer gave me a loner.

    I urge everyone to report this problem to the NHTSA. Maybe we can get a recall going on this problem.

    You can report is online at
    Why would you want to report this problem? Do you plan on reporting every problem you have with your car? If their is not a high volume of cars exibiting the same concern as yours at around the same mileage, than why start something that's probably a simple fix under the vehicle's warranty.
  • Lashawn, why report it?...because this one thread with 195 responses, on this one site has at least 2 dozen owners expressing dissatisfaction with Sonata transmissions in general. That's just the owners who are frustrated enough to seek out this one site.

    Read past messages about how the fix is NOT simple. They include everything from resistant dealers who cannot re-create the intermittent problems, to flash codes that don't solve the problems, to fully replaced transmissions. Various years, various models, no consistency EXCEPT for problematic transmissions on Sonatas. That's why someone might report it - obviously Hyundai doesn't report it internally or they'd utilize a better transmission.
    Yeah, but we're talking about a brand new car with 2000 miles on it. That's something that particular dealer should handle and if they can't, then get corporate involved. Let them keep the car for a few days until they can duplicate the issue. Can't fix something that you can't prove is broken. Right? I work at a GM dealer and there was one customer that came in with an issue similar to this and it took us 4 days with numerous test drives to finally duplicate the problem. The owner was understanding because he knew it was a intermittent issue. Now if your dealer can't handle it to your expectations, then maybe you need to report them. But you have to be understanding if they are unable to duplicate your concern, especially if it's an intermittent concern not a constant concern.
  • I too have recently been noticing something similair happening in my car. I have an 09 sonata 4 cyl with 41k miles. At first i thought it was my breaks catching as I noticed it when breaking but then I realized it was a hard downshift that manifests when breaking. What happens is when slowing down the car bucks on the downshift. It doesnt happen everytime and some bucks are stronger then others. Seems to me it happens more when the car is not as warmed up.
    I took it to the dealer yesterday to have it checked. The dealer told me there has been no recalls and no reported issues. They checked it and told me they felt it when taking a test drive. (I didn't witness the test drive) They told me there was a computer update for the cars transmission system that they applied to my car. Then told me I should have a transmission flush done for 200 dollars. They said this could be contributing to the hard downshift. I said no to the transmission flush. On the ride home I did notice a slight buck but so far today (50 mile commute) the car has run smoothly with no hard downshifts.
    You should definitely have the transmission flush done by your next service. You'll see a big difference. If I'm not mistaken, at least for the v6 models, the owners manual says to have transmission serviced at 60k miles and I think it is 45-50k miles for the 4cyl. Check your manual.
  • hey dave,

    i'm looking for the link to the .pdf file above ...

    can you send it to me?


  • Hi, just wondering if this issue has been resolved? Did you have the transmission flush and did it solve the problem? This is the same exact problem I am having with my car. I *thought* it was the brakes catching somehow. The dealer said brakes checked out fine, and there is no problem. I assured them there is indeed a problem, but the service manager gave me the "sure, ma'am. there is a problem" speech. I felt like an idiot. I described it exactly as you did, except, as I said, I thought it was the brakes. How could they have test driven my car and NOT felt the bucking/slipping?
  • jlindhjlindh Posts: 282
    How could you have let them test drive your car and not ridden along? That's car owner 101 knowledge.
  • I had no idea you COULD go along with them when they drive your car. Also, sadly, I am a working person and the repairs were made during the work day. Lesson learned though. I will insist on it when I bring my car in to have the radio replaced next week. There is power to it, but no sound.
  • Kirstie_HKirstie_H Posts: 11,024
    Well, keep in mind that in many cases, these Forums constitute lesson #1 in the car owner 101 course. Let's be gentle.


    Need help navigating? - or send a private message by clicking on my name.

    Share your vehicle reviews

  • jlindhjlindh Posts: 282
    edited January 2011
    I'll go sit in the corner for a while.
  • My 09 Sonata v6 exhibits similar issue. A harsh downshift quite often at 40 and 50mph as the vehicle is being slowed traveling downhill - or at lower speeds when just coming to a stop. What can see the tach actually fall to 500rpm while the car is coasting at 50+ mph. It seems to slip right out of the gear it is in (5th) and goes to idle. As you brake lightly to keep your speed in check, the car slows enough to where it should downshift to the next lower gear (4th) and it bangs into that gear violently since the engine is at idle speed, not at a higher rpm where it should be. Tough to replicate for dealer but on certain grades at 40 and 50mph it is predictable.

    I have appt with dealer next Monday and will respond with any results.
  • Keep taking it back!
    Has taken me three times.
    Transmision still down-shifts hard but each time I take it back it gets a bit better.
  • My 2011 had transmission replaced and computer replaced and bucked again...this time causing injury. Surprisingly...the computer threw all kinds of error codes & rather than deal with my personal injury lawyer...offered to give me a brand new one. Don't know if I want one or not. Afraid I'll have same old problem. Locked it up in storage & afraid to go near it. Scared it's possessed. Driving my old Honda.
  • kmckinnonkmckinnon Posts: 12
    edited January 2011
    We owned a 03 sonata, bought new 11/02. The day after we bought the car, the transmission locked up. We slowly drove it back to the dealer. The service dept replaced some parts. It drove good for about 2,000 miles when it locked up again. We finally called Hyundai customer service. They sent a rep and authorized the transmission be replaced. We really did not trust that car after that so traded it for a 05 elantra GT with MT. Except for the sonata all the other hyundai's we owned had or have manual transmission. The elantra had over 100,000 miles when we traded it for the "11 6MT sonata.
    My mom has a 08 honda accord that had it's transmission replaced with less than 10,000 miles. It locked up. The 05 honda civic we owned was a p.o.s. one problem after another (no transmission problem it had MT) traded at 36,000 miles (end of warranty) for a 06 acura tsx. There are complaints about acura/honda automatic transmissions failing.One other thing the hyundai dealer was excellent. They went out of their way to be helpful and knew we were contacting customer service. Sometimes they need approval for certain parts to be replaced (warranty work)
  • My harsh downshift problem is described in detail in Post 208 for others with similar issue. Dealer said my vehicle (o9 Sonata v6) already had all Technical Service Bulletin upgrades that were called for. (They can tell by the computer module diagnostic.) To keep me current they did perform one more "recall upgrade" that had nothing to do with transmission.

    However, they did reset the transmission's "Adaptive Learning" which is how the transmission reacts to your individual type of driving. There was an immediate difference in the shifting patterns. Smoother and less frequent/annoying shifts both up and down. 10 days and 800 miles later the tranny has thrown just one "harsh downshift" which was not nearly as harsh as previous 3 or 4 per day.

    For those with the harsh downshift issue I'd suggest getting your dealer to reset the adaptive learning for the transmission. Keeping my fingers crossed until comfort level returns or will return to dealer again per Dave's suggestion.
  • More a question than a comment. Can't this "reset of learning" for the transmission be done without going to the dealer (garage) by removing the battery connections for a period of time? Seems to me that I remember something like that in the back recesses of my tired old mind. :confuse: Thanks for the comments.
  • I'm not an auto tech so I really couldn't say if a battery disconnect would work. I just called dealer to let them know the reset had clearly helped my specific issues... at least for now. When I asked your question I was told the transmission's "adaptive learning" is reset with their GDS (Global Diagnostic System) and they do it routinely. I didn't get the impression it's a very time consuming task so if still under warranty give it a try. Good Luck. Rich
  • agcg88agcg88 Posts: 3
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