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, paddle-shift, 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.
Finish and wear
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 low-mileage, typically under warranty. In other cases, transmission-related 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 pre-purchase 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.
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 pre-purchase inspection on the vehicle they’re considering for maximum peace of mind.