Hyundai 2.0T Engine Problems - Kia Theta II

The 4 Most Common Hyundai 2.0T Engine Problems

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The Hyundai 2.0T was first released in the 2009 Genesis Coupe in the form of the Theta II Turbo MPI engine. Hyundai then followed shortly after with a new iteration – the Theta II GDI engine. Both engines offer a great balance of power, performance, and efficiency. However, the engines do not have the best reputation for reliability due to potentially catastrophic issues. In this guide, I discuss Hyundai 2.0T engine problems and reliability.

Hyundai 2.0T Engine Problems

Hyundai 2.0T Engine Problems

  • Engine failure
  • Carbon build-up
  • Excess oil consumption
  • Oil leaks

Through the rest of the article, I break down the above issues in-depth. It’s important to add some quick notes before moving on, though. We’re considering these among the most common problems with the Hyundai 2.0T Theta engines. That doesn’t mean all the flaws we discuss are common in the true sense of the word. Instead, when problems arise these are a few of the most frequent areas.

That said, the 2.0L inline-4 turbo engine has not earned a very good reputation for reliability. Fortunately, Hyundai and Kia offer pretty generous warranties and a lot of these problems seem to occur under warranty.

If you would rather consume this content via a video, check out our Hyundai 2.0T Common Problems video below:

1) Engine Failure

Obviously, this isn’t a problem that anyone wants to run into. It’s also important to note – all engine manufacturers and engines have occasional complete failures. So this isn’t just a Hyundai/Kia problem. However, the scope and degree of engine failures on the 2.0T is a bit concerning. Hyundai and Kia even recalled over 1.2 million Theta II engines for this issue.

Engine failures seem to mostly affect cars built at the US plant. Debris during the manufacturing process ultimately restricts oil flow to the engines rod bearings. In turn, bearings wear down quickly and eventually seize. Once a bearing seizes is likely to result in complete engine failure; there’s at least enough damage that the cost of a new engine is cheaper than a rebuild.

Hyundai was working to actually fix the root cause of the rod bearing and engine failures in the 2.0T. 2011-2014 Theta II GDI engines were the most prone to running into these problems. It’s also primarily the Santa Fe and Sonata. Newer engines aren’t totally exempt from the possibility of engine failure, but it’s a lot less common. Anyways, engine failure is a very serious problem. However, with good warranty and recalls due to these problems the Hyundai 2.0T didn’t make out too poorly in the end.

Symptoms of Engine Failure

  • Excess oil consumption
  • Engine knocking
  • Poor performance

Symptoms of engine failure can be very broad as there are lot’s of different things you may experience. It’s possible for the Hyundai 2.0L inline-4 to fail without any noticeable symptoms. However, excess oil consumption could be a sign of trouble. Engine knocking is a dead give-away that there’s some problem going on internally. It’s especially common with bearing wear.

Otherwise, poor all around performance and engine operation could point to the start of a 2.0T failure. Once certain symptoms are present like engine knock it’s generally too late to save the engine.

2.0T Theta II Engine Failure Fix

Exact fixes for engine failure on the 2.0L turbo engine depends on the severity of the failure. However, internal engines problems on the Hyundai 2.0T often do enough damage that repairing the damaged engine doesn’t make sense. Repairs can get costly, so a new engine is typically the cheaper route.

Again, most of these engine failures occur during warranty. Given Hyundai and Kia are aware of the issues they would likely work with owners if failures happen outside of warranty. In the unfortunate case your engine isn’t covered the repairs can easily add up to $5,000+.

2) Carbon Build-Up Problems

Carbon build-up is an issue that’s unique to the 2.0L GDI engines, so this doesn’t affect the Genesis Coupe. We find ourselves writing about this problem frequently these days. Carbon build-up is a downside and flaw of direct injection (DI) engines like the Hyundai 2.0T. It’s otherwise awesome technology that helps improve fuel economy and performance.

Moving onto the problem at hand – all engines produce some oil blow-by that makes its way onto intake valves and ports. With port injection, like on the Genesis Coupe, there is fuel flowing over the intake valves. This helps wash away any oil deposits. On the other hand, DI sprays fuel directly into the cylinders of the 2.0L Turbo engine. No fuel is flowing over the intake ports and valves, so the oil blow-by starts sticking and creating carbon build-up.

It’s an issue that occurs slowly over time, so symptoms can sometimes be tough to notice. The good news is that carbon deposits typically don’t pose any serious risks to longevity or reliability. However, carbon build-up can have significant negative impacts on performance and drivability. Cleaning the intake valves is good maintenance on the Theta II GDI engines every 80,000 to 100,000 miles.

Carbon Build-Up Symptoms

  • Misfires
  • Rough idle
  • Stuttering / hesitation
  • Power loss

As carbon deposits form on intake valves it slowly begins restricting air-flow into the cylinders. This can cause symptoms like misfires, rough idle, and stuttering or hesitation while accelerating. These symptoms often aren’t too noticeable until carbon build-up becomes excessive.

Power loss is also a major symptom of carbon deposits on valves. However, this can be extremely tough to notice. It’s not something that happens over night. Instead, power loss occurs over the course of tens of thousands of miles.

Hyundai 2.0T Walnut Blasting

Walnut blasting is one of the best methods to remove carbon build-up from intake valves. This process involves a shop-vac and walnut media shells. The shells are blasted into the intake ports to help remove any carbon deposits. Walnut media shells are fairly inexpensive, so this job is mostly labor as the intake manifold must come off.

It takes a few hours to walnut blast the intake valves, so expect about $300-500 at a repair shop. It’s good maintenance to do every 100,000 miles or so, but it isn’t absolutely necessary.

3) Excess Oil Consumption

Excess oil consumption is sometimes tied to the first Hyundai 2.0T problem we discussed – engine failure. However, there are also numerous cases of the Theta II engine running well other than excess oil consumption. The 2.0L turbo engine isn’t alone in these issues. In fact, other related Hyundai engines, including the 2.4 Theta II, are known for excessive oil consumption too.

All engines consume some oil naturally. Oil making it by the piston rings is a common way it’s lost. Metals expand with heat, so oil consumption is typically highest on a cold engine when clearances are larger. However, with the design flaws regarding the Hyundai 2.0T Theta engine internals, this could be a sign of deeper problems.

Oil loss is typically excessive when you’re losing more than 1 quart of oil for every 1,000 miles driven. If you notice this much oil loss then it might be a good idea to look into the underlying cause. However, there are cases where cars naturally lose a lot of oil without any other reliability or longevity concerns.

Oil Consumption Symptoms

  • Losing 1+ quart every 1,000 miles
  • Smoke from exhaust
  • Burning oil smells
  • Engine knocks/pinging

Sometimes the only symptom is how much oil the engine is actually consuming. That one is pretty straight-forward. If the engine is running well otherwise then it might just naturally burn a lot of oil. However, other symptoms may point to a deeper issue at hand.

Excess smoke from the exhaust is a sign oil is burning away somewhere. Burning oil smells may also indicate an issue (though, sometimes oil leaks will show this symptom). If your engine sounds like it’s knocking or pinging then that could be a sign of internal damage. That’s definitely a time you’ll want to look a bit further into the problem.

4) Hyundai 2.0 Turbo Oil Leaks

I usually do my best to minimize discussing design flaws that were covered by recalls or other service campaigns. It’s tough to do with the 2.0 Turbo engine since it’s been through quite a few recalls. It’s at least a positive sign Hyundai and Kia are addressing problems with the 2.0T inline-4 Theta engines.

Anyway, one main oil leak lies within the turbo oil feed line. Hyundai updated the oil feed lines with a new part, which seems to be a good long-term solution. It’s a pretty minor issue in the grand scheme that’s a simple and cheap fix.

None of these engines are totally exempt from this issue, but it seems most common on the Kia Optima and Hyundai Sonata. Oil leaks from the oil feed line pop up north of 60,000 miles. Again, this was a recall from Hyundai so check to see if your car is eligible for the recall or if the work was already done. Otherwise, as these cars continue aging look for potential leaks from main seals or the valve cover gasket.

Oil Leak Symptoms

  • Visible leak
  • Oil loss
  • Burning oil smells
  • Smoke from engine bay

Usually oil from the Hyundai Theta II turbo oil feed line will simply leak onto the ground. You’ll notice a visible leak and drops of oil on the ground after the car is parked for a while. You might notice you’re 2.0T engine is using oil faster than normal, but a visible leak on the ground should occur long before.

In some cases, oil could drip onto hot components and burn off. This will lead to light smoke from the engine bay or potentially burning oil smells.

Oil Feed Line Replacement

Again, this is a pretty small issue. It’s definitely something you want to fix as soon as possible. Fortunately, the oil feed line and gaskets are about $50-100. Almost anyone willing to DIY this job should be able to knock it out in the driveway. If you’re going to a repair shop you may end up spending $50-100 on labor. Double check to see if your Hyundai or Kia has an open recall. Below is a quick video about the Hyundai 2.0T oil feed line engine problems.

Hyundai 2.0T Reliability

Is the Hyundai 2.0T Theta II engine reliable? We believe the engine earns average remarks for reliability. There were some major concerns over severe engine failures and damage. However, the Hyundai 2.0T has been around for a while so most of the early problems have been ironed out or minimized by now. Fortunately, Kia and Hyundai offer good warranties and they addressed issues with recalls. These factors save the engine from receiving below average marks for reliability.

Of course, two big factors are maintenance and luck of the draw. No engine is perfect and all engines suffer random early failures and problems. That can be said for just about any engine and manufacturer. We can’t control luck of the draw, but it’s always evident. Some report endless problems with the Hyundai 2.0T engine while others make it to high mileage without problems.

Maintenance is one thing we can control. Use quality oils, change fluids on time, and fix problems if and when they occur. Do all of this and with a little luck on your side the 2.0T Theta can deliver great reliability. It’s hard to put an exact number on longevity, but plenty of Hyundai 2.0 Turbo engines make it well beyond 150,000 miles.

Hyundai 2.0T Engine Problems Summary

There are multiple variations of the 2.0T Theta II engines as they’ve been around since 2009. All share the same basic 2.0L, DOHC, turbocharged design. They also all offer a good balance of performance, power, and efficiency. However, reliability and engine problems were always a major concern about the Hyundai 2.0T engines.

Severe engine failures were fairly common, especially in 2011-2014 models. Hyundai eventually came out with recalls for some 1.2+ million Theta II engines due to internal damage and engine failure. Thanks to Hyundai and Kia’s good warranty many of these failures occur under warranty. A turbo oil feed pipe was another common problem on earlier engines that was addressed via a recall.

Otherwise, the 2.0T Theta II GDI engines are prone to carbon build-up. It’s a small downside to direct injection that’s great technology in our opinion. Maintain the Hyundai 2.0T well and you’ll likely have a reliable and fun experience with the engine.

What’s your experience with the Hyundai 2.0 Turbo? Are you considering one?

Drop a comment and let us know!

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  1. Have a 2014 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport with the theta II direct injection engine. Experienced 3 spark plug failures (complete burn up) in the first 15,000 miles driven. At 59,000 miles, experienced engine failure that requires complete engine replacement. Vehicle has been well maintained, all service by dealer at recommended intervals. On PA turnpike check engine light came on and continuously flashed. Engine went into limp home mode. Pulled off at next service plaza and had towed home. Analysis at Autozone showed a P1326 code. Took to dealer, dealer ran diagnostics and determined engine replacement needed.

    1. Please recognize that all Theta II engines will fail at or before around 200,000 miles, in some cases significantly before, regardless of maintenance: there is a class action lawsuit that has a settlement action related to this fact, The engines have a design flaw such that the short block is unable to maintain adequate lubrication, hence the lower bearings will experience accelerated wear and early failure. The explanation/excuse of “metal finishing particles” destroying early engine batches is only partially true: since about late 2013 the process in question was changed to preclude this problem…BUT…engines from later batches still fail at disturbing rates.

      I have two vehicles with Theta II engines: a 12 Sonata, and a 17 Santa Fe Sport. The Sonata failed totally at 212,000 miles (no limp mode) in July 2021, and the Santa Fe went into limp mode @ 90,000 miles a month later (in August 2021). Both vehicles had good maintenance, and I got new engines for both from Hyundai. I credit the maintenance and daily commuting for getting the high mileage (relative) out of the Sonata engine. When I was at the dealer to pick up my Sonata, they had about 10-12 ruined (pulled) Theta II staged for shipment, and an area of the shop dedicated to staging ruined engines and their new, crated, replacements. The service writer indicated that they shipped out a load of failed engines about every three weeks or so.

      In sum, I would say that the Theta II engine is economical, powerful, relatively reliable, but not durable. Until failure, they don’t require much maintenance (hence reliable), but when they fail, they go catastrophically.

  2. Have a 2014 Santa Fe sport 2.0T engine had to be replaced at 130,000 and again after only 50,000 the first was taken care of by dealership but second cost me over $12,000 all in all
    I would not buy any car with this 2.0T engine BEWARE

  3. 2013 Hyundai Genesis w/no bolt on performance parts. No issues whatsoever with car and always performed scheduled maintenance and synthetic oil used every time. No signs of power loss pinging or rough idle. Vehicle’s mileage is 74000. Week ago city driving I noticed a noise sounded like valves out adjustment or loose rocker arm or something top end of engine. By time got to destination 3miles later it sounded like catastrophic damage like an interference motor that just lost timing belt/chain. It has me puzzled why engine light never came on, oil temp, oil psi, engine temp or any gauge on instrument panel showed indication the engine was about to grenade. Next step drain oil and run magnet to see if there’s metal. Nothing visible on top in the valve train. Hoping my yr., Make, model, and mileage is covered for a new crate motor from Hyundai

    1. This just happend to me I took great care of my car got the oil changed every 2,000 miles never had any problems with it and it had just hit 80,000 miles I was driving back from Jacksonville and heard a horrible noise the next day I drove to work it was clanging jerking and banging now today just found out it’s knocking and my engine had major issues and I never had any sign it was gonna happen and no check engine light I’m wondering now if I can even get a recall on it

      1. gen coupe oil pumps fail after 70k i bought mine with 69k less than a month after owning it threw a bearning cuz oil pump just said GOODBYE. 7.9k engine from korea now and im super happy but will be replacing parts at 65000 miles for sure

  4. I had a 2020 Santa Fe Limited with the 2.0T engine. Had 6000 mile servicing. Went out of town and at 6700 miles, the engine totally failed. Just stopped cold. No warning lights until about 5 seconds before meltdown. Took to nearest dealer who refused to honor the warranty. Had no loaner, no rentals. Only one Santa Fe on the lot. A 2021 Limited, but they wanted around 11000 bucks, treating my car as a trade in. Or, for only 3000 more I could get a 2022 Tucson Limited. Not a bad car, but not one I would have bought had I time to look around. It was Memorial Day, my daughter took me to the dealer to check on my Santa Fe. The dealer said it could be 6 months or longer for a replacement motor. No other options. I had no car so I did have to puchase one, the Tucson. Lower sticker then I paid for my Santa Fe but still shelled out 3000 bucks. They had me stuck and knew it. I asked them to call the dealer where I bought the car, they didn’t. I asked them to call Hyundai Motores, apparently they didn’t do that either. I asked for a report from service, but never got one. Requests for further info, documents have been ignored by the dealership.

  5. 2017 KIA Sportage SX Turbo 2.0 liter GDi. One sparkplug failure at 77,000 mile, and now concerned about intake valve carbon buildup. I love this car and wonder if it would be possible to install the new 2.5 liter port/direct injection engine. Would it bolt on to my 6 speed torque converter automatic transmission and fit in the existing motor mounts?

  6. Bought our 15 Santa Fe 2.0T used with 65,000 miles. It was in great shape and we even purchased the extended policy to cover us up to 100k miles. At 73,000 the turbo waste gate actuator went out and out of the two warrantees we had either said they covered “electrical” issues because it was the actuator, and not the turbo. So $600 bucks gone, then the dealer calls and says that during the test drive to make sure it was fixed the engine seized. The rod bearings went out and cooked the engine. After two weeks at the dealer Hyundai agreed it was a bearing issue and they are replacing the engine at no charge.. So kudos to Hyundai for getting it fixed. There was no warning on the bearings at all.

  7. My 2016 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport 2.0T engine failed at 76,000 mi. My local Napleton dealership first diagnosed the need for a new gas cap thinking it was just a sensor issue that was turning on the check oil light. When I brought it back in d/t the light still coming on they proposed replacing the oil pressure switch @ $5,364 and replacing the charcoal canister for another $2,225! Wow $7.589! I decided I needed another opinion. In the meantime, the light went off and the car was performing fine. Shortly thereafter during routine oil change Pep Boys diagnosed an oil leak, but I needed to bring the car back later for repair. Before I could get the leak repaired the engine failed. It lost power on the interstate. I was able to pull off the road & I was advised by a friend that I could just add oil and drive it to the mechanic. Bad advice! I think this caused the head gasket to go, but I’m no mechanic.

  8. 2017 Santa Fe Sport Ultimate w/ 74,000 mile. Oil light went on. Checked dip stick and oil level was good. Took it in for an oil change, they reported an oil leak. Made an appointment with Hyundai dealership, but 3-1/2 weeks was the earliest available appointment. Kept the appointment, but brought it to a Honda dealership. Honda replaced a valve cover gasket, $1100. Oil light was still on, so brought it back the next day. Honda claimed it was a bad reading from the oil pressure switch. Brought it home. Brought it back 4 days later b/c there was a pool of oil under my SUV. 3rd visit (now 2 weeks in) Honda said it was a leaking oil pressure switch. When I picked up my SUV, the check engine light was on, so I took it straight to Hyundai. Oil had leaked through the oil pressure switch, through the wire harness and into the power train computer, $7700 not cover by 100,000 mile/10 yr power train warranty.

  9. I have a 2019 Hyundai Tuscon with 93,000 on it and I’m wondering if I should get the timing belt changed? It’s been a good little car and we keep up with maintenance.

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