Five checks be­fore mak­ing used Sonata pur­chase


We’ll go back to the 2010-2014 gen­er­a­tion of the pop­u­lar Hyundai Sonata for this used ve­hi­cle guide.

This vari­ant of Hyundai’s el­e­men­tal fam­ily sedan is now two full gen­er­a­tions old, but is still com­monly shopped out as a used-car buy by those af­ter a solid amount of space and con­tent, on a rel­a­tive bud­get.

Avail­able from model years 2010 to 2014 in­clu­sive, this gen­er­a­tion Sonata counted mod­els like the Honda Ac­cord, Chevro­let Mal­ibu, Ford Fu­sion and Toy­ota Camry among its com­peti­tors.

Fea­ture con­tent may in­clude nav­i­ga­tion, push-but­ton start, full mul­ti­me­dia con­nec­tiv­ity, pad­dleshift, au­to­matic cli­mate con­trol and a 400-watt In­fin­ity stereo sys­tem, de­pend­ing on the model se­lected.

Heated leather seat­ing and a sun­roof were also avail­able, and this gen­er­a­tion Sonata earned top marks in crash-test­ing ex­er­cises of the day, to the de­light of the safety-minded among us.

En­gine choices in­cluded the pop­u­lar 2.4-litre, four-cylin­der, good for about 200 stan­dard horse­power.

An avail­able two-litre, tur­bocharged, four-cylin­der en­gine served up a mighty 274 horses and is ideal for the per­for­mance en­thu­si­ast.

A hy­brid-pow­ered vari­ant was also avail­able, but we’ll cover that one in a sep­a­rate ar­ti­cle.

Be­low are some tips and checks to con­sider ahead of your pur­chase of a used Sonata from this gen­er­a­tion.


Though the long-term dura­bil­ity of the fin­ish of a ve­hi­cle is a func­tion of nu­mer­ous vari­ables, shop­pers are ad­vised to fully in­spect this gen­er­a­tion of used Sonata for signs of chip­ping, or peel­ing paint, and rust, in vul­ner­a­ble ar­eas (the hood edge, the lower, inner-fac­ing edge of the trunk, the area above the rear wheels where the body and bumper meet, rocker pan­els, etcetera).

Fur­ther, scru­ti­nize the con­di­tion of the driver’s seat, be­ing on the look­out for signs of wear, ripping, or abra­sion of the out­board seat edges, which tend to take the most abuse. If you see any­thing con­cern­ing, call it into your pricing ne­go­ti­a­tions.

Stay in your lane

On your test drive, be sure to visit a se­lec­tion of higher-speed roads and highways, and as­sess the used Sonata’s abil­ity to stay con­fi­dently cen­tred within its lane.

Some own­ers have re­ported that the Sonata likes to wan­der around and may re­quire fre­quent cor­rec­tion via the steer­ing to stay be­tween the lines.

The cause may be a com­bi­na­tion of the soft sus­pen­sion, an align­ment is­sue, and the light and lazy fac­tory steer­ing cal­i­bra­tion. Some own­ers have had luck hav­ing the deal­er­ship re­pro­gram the steer­ing to be a lit­tle heav­ier and stiffer, as a fix.

Poor di­rec­tional sta­bil­ity on the high­way may also be a sign that the ve­hi­cle is in need of new tires and/or an align­ment.


Drive your used Sonata can­di­date with an eye for the be­hav­iour of its trans­mis­sion, at light, medium, and heavy throt­tle. Any slam­ming, bang­ing, clum­si­ness or hard shift­ing you de­tect war­rants fur­ther in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

A small num­ber of own­ers have had trans­mis­sions re­placed at lowmileage, typ­i­cally un­der war­ranty. In other cases, trans­mis­sion­re­lated prob­lems could be caused by a bad shift so­le­noid, or a bad trans­mis­sion fluid tem­per­a­ture sen­sor. Low trans­mis­sion fluid lev­els and fail­ure to prop­erly main­tain the trans­mis­sion as per the in­struc­tions in the owner’s man­ual can cause prob­lems too.

The gist? If the trans­mis­sion in the Sonata you’re con­sid­er­ing does any­thing con­cern­ing, have it checked out by a Hyundai tech­ni­cian first, or move to an­other unit.


Like many ve­hi­cles, this gen­er­a­tion of the Sonata was sub­jected to safety re­calls de­signed to fix some la­tent safety de­fect. Re­call work is per­formed free of charge by the dealer, who can look up whether any re­calls are out­stand­ing by check­ing the ve­hi­cle’s VIN num­ber in the com­puter sys­tem.

Talk to your dealer ser­vice ad­vi­sor and see which, if any, re­calls are out­stand­ing. As re­call work im­proves the safety of the ve­hi­cle, shop­pers are ad­vised to take this step se­ri­ously.

Note that if the Sonata you’re con­sid­er­ing has been reg­u­larly dealer main­tained, there’s a higher chance that all re­call work has been car­ried out al­ready.


Hav­ing a dealer tech­ni­cian per­form a pre-pur­chase di­ag­nos­tic scan, ide­ally as part of a full pre­pur­chase in­spec­tion is a great idea ahead of your pur­chase.

In mo­ments, this quick and affordable scan can re­veal a mul­ti­tude of po­ten­tial prob­lems with the ve­hi­cle, or con­versely, clear it as healthy.

This scan can also re­veal pos­si­bly pricey prob­lems with the high pres­sure fuel pump, or pos­si­ble is­sues with valve gunk buildup.


Con­firm that the Sonata’s air con­di­tioner blows cold when re­quested, and doesn’t smell bad in the process. If that’s not the case, the likely cul­prit is an old and clogged cabin air fil­ter.

Also, test drive this ma­chine with your ears, not­ing that any clunk­ing, bang­ing or snap­ping sounds from be­neath the car on a rougher sur­face typ­i­cally in­di­cate the need for some re­pair or ser­vic­ing of the sus­pen­sion.

Note: The in­for­ma­tion pre­sented above is gath­ered from on­line owner dis­cus­sion groups and col­lab­o­ra­tion with a net­work of au­to­mo­tive re­pair pro­fes­sion­als.

The above in­for­ma­tion is not a com­pre­hen­sive list of all pos­si­ble is­sues with the ve­hi­cle in ques­tion and is in­stead in­tended to draw shop­per at­ten­tion to pos­si­ble trou­ble spots they may wish to in­ves­ti­gate be­fore they buy.

In most cases, prob­lems listed above are re­ported with rel­a­tive rar­ity in com­par­i­son to to­tal sales vol­ume. Shop­pers are ad­vised to have a dealer-per­formed pre­pur­chase in­spec­tion on the ve­hi­cle they’re con­sid­er­ing for max­i­mum peace of mind.


2011 Hyundai Sonata

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