Limping Issue In Hyundai Sonata – Here Are Details

Hyundai Sonata

Any brand vehicle can come with any technical issues, electrical, mechanical, exterior, interior, and the list is long. Some are minor, while some can be serious and need immediate rectification. Car companies have their QC and customer service department keep track of any abnormalities they are seeing or any complaints reported from the dealerships they hear from their customers. Regardless of the type of complaint, the company keeps data of everything and every single complaint/issue, and if they see anything consistently reported, they start investigating it and try to resolve it ASAP. In this article, we are going to discuss the issue being reported in Hyundai Sonata, which is a D-Segment luxury sedan. So, here are details.

Recalls are a Norm

These issues are fixed by generating RECALLS. Every car company [even Bugatti, Ferrari, Bentley, Rolls Royce, and any other high-end brands] recalls their cars every now and then for any issues which need a fix. This means that at the time of production, there could be any part of the car which could not be built up to the standards and give issues to the end-users later. Sometimes recalls are associated with the electronic module, which needs a software update. Some recalls are minor and do not pose any danger to the car owners immediately, but some genuinely need immediate action, like in the famous Takata Airbag recall.

Recalls are fixed under the service campaign regardless of the vehicle’s warranty status, and these are done without any cost to the owner. Unfortunately, this is not something we see actively here with local assemblers. In fact, if someone reports a problem or shares any experience, he is mainly labeled as a propagandist, fake news, or in some cases declared as an individual from the competitor to defame a brand/ model. In reality, we should encourage people to share and report the issues they experience in their vehicles. This can help check the intensity of any specific problem, although many people don’t share it even after knowing the problems in their car.

Modern Cars and Possible Issues

In today’s world, our vehicles are more sophisticated and involve a lot of computer logic in the backend. Our vehicles are equipped with a long list of sensors, which sends data to the Engine Control Unit and Transmission Control Module programmed for the regular operation of cars. The entire working operation of the system is designed within certain preset parameters. If specific values from the sensors are not received, a Check Engine or Transmission Error is generated, which is what we usually see in our car instrument panel. All these abnormalities create an error code with a particular designation.

Our cars are equipped with Onboard Diagnostics/ OBD, which has a port under the dashboard & typically on the driver side. By connecting a diagnostic scanner device, the codes are read, and eventually, the root cause of the issue is diagnosed and obviously rectified accordingly. These codes can be for various reasons, and while some might be a software fix, others can require a repair replacement of any hardware in the engine bay.

What is Limping?

Sometimes to protect and preserve the systems and other components because of specific errors, the control modules in the vehicles shift the vehicle to LIMP MODE, or we can call it a SAFE MODE. When the car is in LIMP mode, it performs bare minimum working, can shift to lowest gear, cut down on engine power. All this is pre-programmed, and the purpose is to curtail any severe damage because of certain error data received.

Some people think that disconnecting the battery will resolve the issues. It might clear your check engine light or other errors for the time being and temporarily but keep in mind, until and unless the cause is diagnosed and fixed, the problem is still there and will reappear anytime when the conditions are achieved. Disconnecting the battery terminal will not fix the underlying problem.

Limping and Hyundai Sonata

In recent weeks, a number of Sonata owners in Pakistan have been experiencing their vehicle shifting to LIMP mode. In some cases, the car was in motion, and the drivers had to stop their vehicles. Some Sonata owners experienced it when they started the car. In either case, the dealership was contacted, and the vehicle was diagnosed.  Although the nature of the error code/codes is not known, the errors were cleared via OBD, and the engine was inspected. Exact and absolute details are not known to owners, but some cleaning or readjustment was done to Throttle body Position Sensor/TPS, while the Mass Airflow Sensor /MAF located at the intake manifold was also inspected. I am not an expert in mechanics, but I will briefly explain what these sensors do here.

The throttle valve opening and closing is based on the accelerator paddle and controls the air volume. The more you press, the wider it opens. The TPS sensors, installed on the throttle body get this data and transmit it to the engine control module, which in return decides the most appropriate quantity of fuel to be injected into cylinders for combustion courtesy. The spark plugs and the timing of the spark are also controlled in the process.   If there is an issue with the senor, the throttle body, its position, correct fuel volume, and spark timings can’t be determined by ECU. This causes check engine light and can result in the vehicle going in LIMP mode. A throttle or throttle sensor is vital as it determines the driver’s intent when it presses or releases the accelerator. The throttle sensor data is also used by Transmission control which shifts the gear accordingly.

The MAF sensor is located somewhere between the intake manifold and air filter and basically measures the amount of air entering the engine. The air volume data is sent to ECU, which then calculates the right amount of fuel for combustion, in other words, the air-fuel ratio. A faulty and dirty MAF sensor will not send the correct value and can cause less than or more than required fuel injected into the combustion chamber which can cause engine to run too lean or too rich than the required.  Bad or improperly working MAF sensors can also cause transmission shifts like late or early shifts or harsh shifting issues. MAF is an essential piece for the proper running of the vehicle and its performance.

What Should Hyundai-Nishat Do? 

Now, as the issue of the vehicle going in LIMP mode has been experienced by several Sonata owners, Hyundai Nishat must investigate the root cause of the problem. Nishat should not wait for owners to come to dealerships for the identical issue. Nishat must be proactive and get in touch with their dealership network and release a service bulletin based on the problem diagnosed by their dealerships regarding the LIMP mode.

Nishat should direct dealers to scan and inspect these sensors or other components causing the issue for any Sonata coming into their dealerships, even for regular service. As the timing/odometer reading of the vehicle going into the LIMP model varies, it is possible that some owners have not yet experienced the problem. So, inspecting the components would be ideal and automatically eliminate the causes, well in time. Nishat can also launch a service campaign and reach out to all Sonata owners and ask them to visit the dealership, even those owners who have not yet gone through the issue.

Sonata in LIMP model while in motion

Many Sonata owners who have not yet gone through this issue are skeptical and concerned because they never know; they can face this problem while on the road and at an area away from the dealership location. LIMP mode restricts the vehicle’s motion, and it can become un-drivable. Nishat Hyundai’s active approach in this regard will give consumers a sense of protection, which is also important for the Hyundai brand. This will show their commitment towards their customers.

 A Proactive Approach On Hyundai Sonata

As I said earlier, any vehicle can get into faults, even brand new, and any time, but when multiple people report a similar issue, it’s time to get on your feet because something is abnormal. For example, since day 1, when Sportage start catching fire a few years ago in Pakistan, we stressed in-depth neutral investigation. Later Tucson caught fire and then two more Sportage cars. Every time we asked Hyundai and Kia to recall these vehicles because of the historical issue of fires in the international market. At last, they listened and acted upon.  So, why wait for the issue to spread? Let us control it as early as possible, even if it’s a very minor one.

Hyundai Nishat Response

Hyundai Nishat have established a new D-Segment in Pakistani market for the first time by introducing the latest generation of the  Sonata and a thorough aggressive approach as far as customer service will bring the brand and model a real success. has contacted Hyundai Nishat for the response. The company’s response will be added in the blog, once we receive it.

If you are a PK assembled Hyundai Sonata owner and you faced the same issues as discussed in this article, please share in comments.  Meanwhile you can  also join Pakwheels Exclusive discussion thread on Sonata 

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