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Inflation has budget-conscious shoppers looking for affordable, reliable used cars. The 2013 Hyundai Sonata looks promising thanks to its excellent reliability score and low purchase price. However, this cheap used Hyundai sedan also has many problems.

U.S. News named the 2013 Hyundai Sonata among the most reliable used cars under $10,000

Finding a high-quality used car on a budget is challenging. But consulting reputable sources can make the process easier. For instance, U.S. News named the 2013 Hyundai Sonata among the most reliable used cars under $10,000 in 2023.

So, why did this model make the grade? Foremost, it has a “great” 84/100 J.D. Power reliability score. And some trims have upscale features like heated front seats, satellite radio, Bluetooth, USB ports, and dual-zone automatic climate control.

In addition, this affordable used Hyundai sedan has good ride quality and provides overall comfort despite its moderately noisy engine. With spacious seating for five, a smooth-shifting six-speed automatic transmission, and up to 274 hp, the 2013 Sonata is a practical pick under $10,000.

However, this car is not without problems.

The 2013 Hyundai Sonata has 9 recalls and 1,600 complaints


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Despite the 2013 Sonata’s excellent J.D. Power reliability score and inclusion on the U.S. News list, buyers should beware of this used Hyundai sedan.

Owners have reported major transmission problems with this Sonata model year. That led Hyundai to issue a recall to fix sudden and unexpected shifting and transmission failures. As if that weren’t enough, the poorly designed front end has caused visibility problems, leading to safety concerns regarding the 2013 Sonata.

There have been several other recalls and nine NHTSA investigations. The recall campaigns concern seat belt pretensioners, fuel leaks, engine troubles, and other issues. One 2016 recall concerned the curtain airbag, which could inflate without deployment command, increasing the risk of severe injury.

In addition, the NHTSA has received over 1,600 complaints about the 2013 Sonata. Problems include loss of motive power, throttle control system vulnerabilities, non-crash vehicle fires, and incidents where crashes resulted in significant collision-related damage when the frontal airbags failed to deploy.

Why does the J.D. Power reliability score seem at odds with this car’s problems?

J.D. Power determines its reliability scores through quality and dependability ratings. Quality is a measure of the level of defects, malfunctions, and design flaws experienced by vehicle owners that cover the entire vehicle and are based on initial owner response and feedback of their new purchase during the first 90 days. And dependability is geared toward longer-term ownership experiences of three years. It’s simple: The higher the score, the fewer the problems.

That might be where the disconnect occurs between U.S. News’ ranking of the 2013 Hyundai Sonata and our previous warning about this model year. Many owner complaints and recalls occurred later, while J.D. Power’s reliability score is based on the first 90 days to three years of ownership.

Regardless of the reliability rating, shoppers should always obtain a vehicle history report and have a trusted mechanic perform an inspection to uncover potential problems before purchasing a used car.