2008 Hyundai Sante Fe - randomly will not start


Asked by alyx27 Feb 25, 2013 at 11:05 AM about the 2008 Hyundai Santa Fe

Question type: Maintenance & Repair

I have a 2008 Hyundai Sante Fe with a very strange issue.  I cannot duplicate it, it just happens
whenever it feels like it! The car is a V6 and has approx. 75,000 mostly city miles.
Randomly, the car will not start.  When I put the key in the ignition and turn, the radio, lights etc. all turn
on but when I go that extra little turn to the right to start the car, nothing. There is no pattern – radio on
or off, lights on or off, door open or closed.

Due to my business, I start and stop the car, on average 10 to 12 times a day, many days a lot more.  It
has not done this first thing in the morning, only after I have done at least one stop at a client’s house.  
When it acts up, it may take anywhere for 1 minute to 30 minutes before I can get it to start.  I just keep
trying.   I end up just stuck wherever I am until it decides to start. It may happen once a week or 2 times
a day.

The dealership had it for 2 days and ran multiple diagnostics on it and tried to duplicate.  Finally on the
2nd day an error code showed up for a stop lamp switch, which they fixed.  
Battery, battery cables and starter were all tested and were fine.  They removed the ignition and tested
(ignition switch was replaced last September). Battery is 6 months old.

18 Answers

Not Active

Corrosion can build up in a couple of days...do think it's a compromized connection from the battery to chassis ground. Do take a look at this ground wire that connects the negative to chassis, disassemble wirebrush and re-assemble for a reliable ground connection.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
Not Active

the connections do have to pull 300 CCA to make the starter turn...if they seem okay, could be "wimpy" and not lettin' all the juice thru~

Not Active

also me mustn't forget ground connection to the engine, probably overlooked by the person who put your battery in initially~ this one also has a 1/0 battery cable to pull the gigundo amperage load~

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.

It sounds like a problem of worn starter switch which is made of copper. When you turn the key, a battery supply electricity to the starter motor in which switch spin and pull into the motor to conduct electricity. Over time, the copper parts (two parts: left and right) get worn and do not make a good contact. It is random and gets more frequent as time goes. The copper parts are $5-6 and I paid express online to pay around $25. It fixed it. I forgot the part name, but try to search for 'starter switch'. Once you take a starter off, it was easier than I thought. Good luck.

3 out of 3 people think this is helpful.

I have same problem with my 2007 Santa Fe. It started December 2012, then I replaced battery, but it showed up again October 2013, and seems to be getting worse. Ill have to check ground connections but since I wonder do I have to take off starter to replace the starter switch?

3 out of 3 people think this is helpful.
Giulio Moro

Hello. The problem looks to be either the starter relay, starter solenoid, or the starter itself. It's a very common issue with older cars and some companies use sub-standard, cheap, or cheaper than usual parts in this section of the starting subsystem. If you can do the work yourself then replace the starter as it should also include the starter solenoid that engages the starter motor drive gear with the transmission ring gear and/or engine crankshaft to start the motor. It's the cheapest and easiest fix to start with. If the problem persists, then look at either a relay or the ignition switch itself. The ignition switch cuts off device power except to the starter relay. Honda, Ford, Chrysler, Acura, Lexus, Toyota and many others have all had the same problem as they typically use the same switch as there is only a limited number of companies that make these particular parts. Good luck.

3 out of 3 people think this is helpful.
Best Answer

Hi My santafe 2007 shows same random starting issues.just realized that it happens only when the immo sign on the dash doesn't light up. Any clue?

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.

Have you figured it out? I am having the same problem with my 2009 Santa Fe. Would love to hear of a fix.

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.

Hi, I just had the same problem with my Santa Fe 2009 CDXi. Did you got it fixed and how ?


Well, this turned out to be a horrible 16 month experience from when the problem first started to the final fix. So much happened, so many parts replaced, so much frustration of being stuck and unable to start the car....long story short...the dealership installed a brand new starter that was faulty. Because they couldn't replicate the problem at the dealership, they never caught the replacement starter being the problem and ended up replacing pretty much everything in the ignition and many other parts and tearing the car apart multiple times. Finally, their lead mechanic took my car for two weeks and drove it as his own. He had equipment to test it when it failed and sure enough it was the starter.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.

I have a 2009 Santa Fe and when first my car would not start (unless I wiggled the transmission stick shift) the dealership said it was my transmission. They replaced it under warrantee and things were fine for about two years. Then in happened again and they replaced the transmission again. Today it happened again after only having this transmission for 3 months. I called the service department and here is how the conversation went: "It looks like you didn't really fix my car. I have the same problem with the car not starting unless I wiggle the stick shift or put it in neutral. (after getting my information the service department said) "Bring the car and and we will have a look." "This will be my fourth transmission if that is the problem. Are you installing a new transmission each time or are you giving me a rebuilt transmission?" "It's a rebuilt transmission." "So based on your past performance I can expect a replaced transmission to do exactly the same thing. You seem to be installing faulty rebuilt transmissions with defective parts until you run out of the old parts." "I can't say that sir." (interesting turn of phrase here - looks like I hit the nail on the head but he's not allowed to confirm or deny.) What is going on here? Can anybody tell me what I can do to get them to put in an new transmission?

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.

I have a similar problem with a 2007 Santa Fe. It's been going on for about three years and a dealership cannot fix my issue. I take it in every year they replace something, and then three weeks later I have the same issue. It only happens when it's cold out usually starts in October and goes til February with this issue. It's random and doesn't always happen. Does this seem to be a starter switch issue?

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.

When I read yoyo21, I thought the neutral switch (it was called in militaryy heavy armor and don't know the exact name on vehicles) must be wrong. The switch makes the engine turn on in the position of parking or neutral. After the story read about multiple transmission replacement, I am reasonably confident that it looks like a starter switch contacts. It is not car-specific and it depends on the habbit of engine turning on. If the key is not released quickly after engine started, the contacts worn out sooner. The older the car it becomes frequent and the colder the frequent. It looks very random, but if you are careful, you may see these pattern. Then, most likely it is a starter switch contact. If you hear clicks, the solenoid works. If it tries to turn starter, the battery is okay. Then, it should be the worn starter contact points causing the random events. Very easy fix. I fixed Toyota Camry 2000 with 265,000 miles with contacts replaced. I have not done it before, it was easy one I took out the starter.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
Giulio Moro

Older cars typically have this issue for a variety of reasons. Starter solenoids stick and/or fail, and sometimes the internal contacts engage the solenoid but do not transfer any power to the starter itself. Sometimes the starter heats-up during normal operation and this also causes the starter not to work when needed again, until it cools off. Sometimes if it's not shimmed properly when installed it ca also cause premature wearing of the ring gear/pressure plate, and again damage to the starter. It's one of the cheapest, easiest and most overlooked part of a car that most people can change themselves if needed and overlooked as it's never seen, but it easily gets corroded, overheated, and rusts due to where it's usually located.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.

The problem with my 2007 Santa Fe 2.7 l is that it cranks but won't start unless you keep the key in the start position for a while. Sometimes it starts but engine shakes and goes off. Realised if immo light doesn't come on . It won't star


Hello, my Santa Fe Y2006 has this same problem. New glow plugs, currently changed crankshaft position sensor, battery in good condition, starter spins perfectly but no starting when cold (in the morning). Possible to start only after spraying of starting fluid directly to air filter outlet. Once started it will run all day with no problems. Last winter it was driven perfect without any problems it just suddenly appeared in this winter... Have somebody found the problem yet? If yes please let me know adresu @ gmail . com. It's blowing my mind.

Giulio Moro

Sounds like a faulty cold-start fuel injector.

Giulio Moro

Another place to look at is the ignition immobilizer. It's a small ring sensor that sits around the ignition keylock that reads the car key identifier code and then signals to the computer that a valid key is inserted into. Some cars have 3 different types of keys, one is the basic metal key used to unlock doors and the steering column but won't start the vehicle. The second is a Valet key that allows a valet to open and move a vehicle but not unlock security areas like your centre console or front glove compartment areas (and sometimes the trunk). The third type is a complete Master key. The immobilizer ring reads the key code inserted into the ignition and then tells the computer whether or not to allow the vehicle to start. Try another good key then if this happens again your key embedded security chip has gone bad, the immobilizer ring is going bad, or the main computer is going bad. Checkout the attached pictures. Good luck.

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