This Week's Turd of the Week

Car Talk Car Complaints

Car Talk Car Complaints | Apr 21, 2016

Here in the Annex, we’re used to our ears ringing with the gripes of unhappy owners. That’s just our job. Most of the time, the complaints aren’t too surprising, centering on makes and models generally known for spotty reliability at best. But once in a while, we get a surprise. One of those showed up this week.

Hyundai has come a long way from its early days as a maker of basically disposable automobiles, and its current lineup consists largely of solid competitors with decent reliability records. And that would include the 2013 Elantra, at least if you read the reliability records and recommendations of popular magazines and websites.

But the 2013 Elantra has also been making a name for itself at, and not in a good way. Owners have logged some 842 complaints so far, unusual for such a new model. The beefs encompass a wide variety of issues, from engine noises to suspension problems and electrical woes. That’s enough to put the 2013 Elantra on worst vehicles list, something that normally takes many years of complaints. A look at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration site shows another 358 letters from unhappy owners.

The bulk of the complaints are from owners who just wish it would just stop -- literally. is packed with stories of brake problems that began almost as soon as owners left the dealer’s lot, and haven’t let up since. The list includes grinding noises, premature wear, cracked and warped rotors, you name it. And many say that neither dealers nor Hyundai corporate have been of much help.

“The car only has 2000 miles on it and the grinding noise has gotten worse. I can't imagine what the problem is but dealer says there's no recall even though online that's the #1 complaint with this car,” says Tina M., Olive Branch, MS.

Grinding noise not pictured. (Hyundai Photo)

Barbara K. of Glenshaw, PA put up with the problems until her Elantra had 22,000 miles on it, but by then, her brakes were completely shot.

“I was told that the brakes on all four wheels needed total replacement to the tune of over $800,” says Barbara. “The rotors were rusted and the car was unsafe to drive. I went ahead and got them fixed because I was told it could be dangerous, especially when a chunk of the rotor was missing on the front wheel.”


She says her dealer was no help, either.

“Dealer said he had no idea of what happened, said maybe I don't drive it enough. Really?”

We wrote to Hyundai to ask if there have been any TSBs or recalls issued to address the Elantra’s woes, and received the following reply.

In 2012 we issued a Technical Service Bulletin to address some brake noise issues we had received some complaints on. These were early build units of 2013 Elantra Sedan and Coupe. There was no safety issue and dealers were instructed to replace the front brake pads.

That helps, but the problem is that the complaints have continued, even with some models bought recently. And as David B. of Harrisonburg, VA, points out, the problems aren’t limited to the brakes.

Stop? If only it was that easy!

“This complaint is about brakes, but there is a litany of oddities and downright dangerous quirks of this vehicle,” he writes. “How in God's name have so many publications recommended this vehicle?”

If you’ve got a 2013 Hyundai Elantra or any other car that’s been giving you trouble, we'd love to hear from you.

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