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The Worst Hyundai Elantra Model Year You Should Never Buy

With every car brand, there’s always that one model or year that sticks out like a sore thumb. For some reason, it doesn’t quite live up to the brand’s standards or the model’s history. If there’s a best, there must also be a worse, though, right? But when this happens, it can throw everyone off. The brand scrambles to figure out what went wrong and fix it before the next model year releases, reviewers are left surprised and scratching their heads, and customers lose a little trust in both the brand and that particular model. This has happened to other brands, but when it happened to the Hyundai Elantra, it threw the usually highly-favored brand for a loop.

For the love of Hyundai Elantra

The Hyundai Elantra at the New York International Auto Show
The Hyundai Elantra | Volkan Furuncu/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

The Hyundai brand, as a whole, gets a lot of love. Consumer Reports says, “Many of Hyundai’s vehicles continue to impress, with styling, fit and finish, and performance on par with Honda and Toyota.” Once the Elantra was redesigned in 2017, the reviews for it got even better. The Elantra was named 2017 Best New Car for Teens by USNews.

It’s also been a Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety for the last several years running. With so many awards and accolades, it’s no wonder Hyundai is a well-loved brand. Today, the Elantra scores #9 out of 19 in compact cars and is recommended by Consumer Reports. Hyundai also rounded out the top 10 car brands; the list includes 33 brands.

2013 was a bad year

Call it the year of the grand failure for the 2013 Hyundai Elantra. Between engine problems and a slew of other issues, the Elantra couldn’t catch a break. Car Complaints, the company that provides reports on consumer complaints, said, “We’re not used to seeing any major problems with Hyundai, which makes the early signs of trouble with the 2013 Elantra very surprising, in a bad way.” 

The EPA-estimated MPG wasn’t close to reality. Wheels and hubs were another problem, especially with early wear and tear as were the breaks which often made loud grinding noises. Ticking in the engine? Yeah, at a cost of $4,300 to fix. And the engines would typically fail at 72,000 miles when they did, costing $3,600 to repair.

JD Power gave it a below-average 2.5/5 for reliability. One of the only things going for it is that it scored 5/5 for overall safety by the National Highway Safety Traffic Administration. 

The engine that couldn’t

The engine got the most complaints for 2013, but that isn’t the only year the engine has seen complaints. It’s also the most common complaint of all Hyundai Elantra models from 1991-present. While they’ve made many improvements, it seems the engine is still a sore spot. At least it’s not the engine of 2013.

According to Car Complaints, the 2013 Hyundai Elantra is the worst model year. It has a record of 508 total owner complaints, with more than 100 of those being engine complaints. No other model year comes close to the number of problems the 2013 Hyundai Elantra had. This earned it the “Beware of Clunker” badge from Car Complaints, an infamous honor.

Better luck next time, Hyundai

Luckily, Hyundai went on to fix most of the issues that were seen in the 2013 Elantra, and these days it’s back to being the reliable model it used to be. So while you might think Hyundai needs a little pep talk, 2013 was a long time ago in car years, and you’ll only need to watch your back if you buy used. In this case, a used 2013 Hyundai Elantra.