Hyundai 2.4 Theta II Engine Problems, Reliability, Specs

The 4 Most Common Hyundai 2.4 Engine Problems

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The Hyundai 2.4L inline-4 engine made its debut in the 2007 Sonata with the Theta II MPI designation. Within several years came the 2.4 Theta II GDI engine utilizing gasoline direct injection (GDI). Unfortunately, neither engine has earned a good reputation for reliability. Common Hyundai 2.4 engine problems include engine failure, oil consumption, carbon deposits, and oil leaks.

Hyundai 2.4 Theta Engine Problems

These topics will be a major focus throughout the rest of this article. However, before jumping in it’s important to add a few quick notes. We’re considering these among the most common Hyundai 2.4 Theta engine problems. It doesn’t mean the failures are actually common in the true sense of the definition. Rather, when issues arise these are some common areas.

Unfortunately, the 2.4L Theta II engine doesn’t have the best rep when it comes to reliability. A good warranty and some recalls along the way do make some reliability flaws less concerning. Anyways, we’ll circle back to 2.4 MPI and GDI reliability at the end of the article. For now, let’s discuss the above Hyundai Theta engine problems.

Hyundai 2.4 Theta II Engine Problems & Reliability

1) Engine Failures

Engine failure is a topic we wrote about for the 2.0T Theta engine as well. The 2.4L engine actually shares many of the same issues, and sadly engine failure is one of them. This issue can affect all years and models. However, engine failure is most common among 2011-2014 Hyundai Sonata and 2013-2014 Santa Fe. Problems also affect the 2.4 Theta II engines in some Kia models of similar years. This includes the Optima, Sorento, and Sportage.

We won’t beat this topic to death since it’s been covered quite a bit. Kia and Hyundai had to pay some pretty hefty fines regarding these problems due to safety concerns of engine failures. There were recalls issued and many engines were replaced either as a part of the recall or during warranty.

The root cause of engine failures lies within the rod bearings. Debris during manufacturing wasn’t properly removed and it eats up the 2.4L Theta II rod bearings due to poor oil flow. They ultimately seize and cause complete engine failure. We think this is mostly a non-issue for the Hyundai 2.4 engine as of 2021. It’s still something to keep in mind since engine failures can be very costly repairs.

Theta Engine Failure Symptoms

  • High oil consumption
  • Engine knocks
  • Poor overall performance
  • No start / stalling

Engine failure symptoms on the Hyundai Theta engine can be broad. It all depends on the severity of the issues. You’ll likely notice high oil consumption (a topic we’re covering more in-depth next). This can lead to white smoke from the exhaust. Otherwise, the engine may produce knocking sounds as the bearings develop problems.

You might also notice poor overall engine performance. When failures are severe the engine can seize which will cause stalling and no start situations. At this point you’re at the point of complete engine failure.

Engine Failure Fixes

As bearings wear they chew up the crankshaft and can lead to rod knock, piston slap, and more problems. It doesn’t make sense to rebuild an engine with this degree of damage. As such, the Hyundai/Kia will need a new 2.4 Theta engine. Many failures were already covered under warranty or recalls. Hopefully this is no longer a major concern, especially for models with replacement engines.

Still, if you end up paying out of pocket this can easily be a $5,000+ replacement. Given the recalls and fines it’s clear Hyundai is very aware of these problems. They may still work with owners to help with repair bills or cover the failure completely. It’s worth a shot if you run into this costly problem.

2) Oil Consumption Problems

Excess oil consumption sometimes relates to the previous topic. However, we’re ignoring high oil consumption due to actual engine problems or failures. There are plenty of cases of Hyundai 2.4 Theta engines burning a lot of oil without any other obvious problems. The 2.4L inline-4 engine isn’t alone in these issues, though.

Engines naturally consume some oil. This is true of any internal combustion gasoline engine. Some oil is often lost due to blow-by past the piston rings. Metals expand with heat, so piston rings gaps are wider on cold engines. This means most excess oil consumption problems on the Hyundai 2.4L engine are when the engine is cold.

Anyway, usually high oil consumption isn’t a major problem in the shorter-term. It’s a bit more concerning on the 2.4 Theta II engine, though. The engine has some proven internal flaws, so excess oil consumption could be a sign of deeper problems. If you’re losing ~1 quart of oil every 1,000 miles or less then it’s time to find the root cause.

For more info, check out our detailed Hyundai 2.4 Oil Consumpion Guide.

Oil Consumption Symptoms

  • Losing 1+ quart every 1,000 miles
  • Burning oil scents
  • Knocking or pinging sounds
  • White smoke from exhaust

Oil consumption is typically considered excessive when the 2.4L Theta is burning more than 1 quart every 1,000 miles. You may notice burning oil smells or smoke from the exhaust. This indicates excess oil is burning off in the cylinders, and can point to deeper internal problems. Knocking or pinging sounds can also indicate a serious problem.

However, if excess oil consumption is your only symptom then you may be OK. As engines age a bit more oil consumption may be normal.

3) Carbon Build-Up Issues

Carbon build-up does not apply to the 2.4 Theta MPI engines. Those engines utilize multi-point injection (MPI), which is also known as port injection. The engine sprays fuel into the intake ports where it mixes with air and travels into the cylinders. On the other hand, Hyundai 2.4 GDI engines spray fuel directly into the cylinders.

We talked about oil blow-by a little bit with the oil consumption. All engines produce some oil blow-by. Some of that makes its way into the intake where it can stick to intake ports and valves. With port injection the fuel is able to wipe away any oil. However, direct injection does not have that benefit. Therefore, oil sticks to the valves and forms carbon deposits.

Over time, the Hyundai 2.4L GDI inline-4 engine gets carbon build-up on the intake ports and valves. It can restrict air-flow into cylinders and cause performance and drivability issues. It’s not always easy to detect since it occurs over a period of 5+ years and 80,000+ miles. Carbon build-up doesn’t present major threats to engine reliability or longevity.

Many 2.4L GDI engines will probably make it their whole lives without intake valve cleaning. It’s a good idea to address carbon build-up every 100,000 miles, though. More on that when we discuss Hyundai 2.4 GDI walnut blasting below.

2.4L Inline-4 GDI Carbon Build-Up Symptoms

  • Misfiring
  • Rough / stumbling idle
  • Stuttering or hesitation while accelerating
  • Loss of power

Again, carbon build-up begins to restrict air-flow into cylinders. Different cylinders can also experience different degrees of carbon build-up. This can cause the Hyundai 2.4L GDI engine to misfire. You may notice a rough idle or stuttering while accelerating. These symptoms usually start slowly and become progressively worse as more build-up occurs.

Some also notice power loss and it’s a very common symptom of carbon build-up. However, it can be the hardest symptom to notice. That’s because carbon deposits form over years and years and tens of thousands of miles. The 2.4 Theta GDI power loss is a slow, gradual process and not something that happens overnight.

Walnut Blasting

Walnut blasting is a proven way to effectively clean intake valves and ports. It requires a heavy-duty shop vac and walnut media shells. The walnut shells are blasted into the intake ports with the shop-vac to remove any carbon build-up. Walnut media shells are inexpensive for the job, but labor can add a lot of costs.

The intake manifold must come off to access the Hyundai 2.4 GDI ports and valves. It’s a several hour process from start to finish, so labor can be about $300-600. Walnut blasting isn’t totally necessary, but we consider it good maintenance every ~100,000 miles.

4) Oil Leaks

Oil leaks on the 2.4L inline-4 MPI and GDI engines is a pretty general topic. We’ll move thru this a bit faster since we’re not focusing on any one specific oil leak. Anyways, all internal combustion engines are prone to oil leaks as they age. Gaskets, seals, o-rings, and similar parts with rubber-like materials simply degrade with time and mileage.

Eventually these parts begin developing small cracks and oil leaks develop. If left alone, the cracks continue to expand or new ones form and leaks gradually become worse. A few common oil leak areas on the Hyundai 2.4 engine include the valve cover gasket, oil pan gasket, and main seals.

We don’t necessarily consider this a true common engine problem on the 2.4L Hyundai Theta II engines. There aren’t any major design flaws that cause the leaks. It’s just an important topic to cover since some 2.4 GDI and MPI engines are 10-15+ years old. Running into an oil leak or two with that kind of age and 100,000+ miles isn’t uncommon.

Oil Leak Symptoms

  • Visible leak
  • Loss of oil
  • Burning oil smell
  • Light smoke from engine bay

Of course, if you’re seeing visible oil spots on the ground after parking the car then you probably have an oil leak somewhere. Oil loss is a possible symptom, but engines consume some oil naturally. Low engine oil alone likely doesn’t indicate a leak. Additionally, if the leak is large enough to cause large oil loss then you probably already noticed other symptoms.

Some oil leaks towards the top of the engine – like the valve cover gasket – may drip onto hot engine parts and burn off. This may cause the Hyundai 2.4 Theta engines to make burning oil smells or light smoke from the engine bay.

Oil Leak Fix

The good news about most oil leaks is that they’re usually inexpensive gaskets or seals. These parts often only run about $10-40 for OEM replacements. If you can DIY the work then most 2.4 GDI & MPI oil leaks are very cheap repairs.

However, if you’re going to a repair shop for work then some oil leaks can add about $200-500+ in labor. It all depends on where and what is leaking, but some things are harder to access. That can lead to several hour repair times that can add a lot of money in repair bills.

2.4L Theta II Reliability

Is the Hyundai 2.4 Theta II MPI and GDI engine reliable? We think this engine earns average remarks for reliability. Severe engine problems and failures hold the reliability down. However, many 2.4L engine failures were covered by Hyundai and Kia through recalls or under normal warranty. The issues don’t seem as common with the new replacement engines, so hopefully that’s a long-term solution.

Carbon build-up is a flaw on the Hyundai 2.4 Theta II GDI engine. However, direct injection is great technology so it’s a small downside to an otherwise great update. High oil consumption and oil leaks are a few other common problems on the Hyundai 2.4 Theta engines.

A lot of reliability simply comes down to maintenance and luck of the draw. We can’t control the luck factor. However, you can control how well you maintain the Hyundai/Kia 2.4L inline-4 engine. Use quality oils, change fluids on time, and fix problems if and when they occur. Do all of this and the Hyundai 2.4 Theta engine can offer solid reliability with just a little luck on your side.

What’s your experience with the 2.4 Theta MPI/GDI engine? Are you considering one?

Leave a comment and let us know!

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28 Comments

  1. Great article. Very informative. I have a 2017 Kia Optima ex with the 2.4 engine. My problem is it appears oil is getting into the combustion chamber on at least cylinder 1 and cylinder 4. Changing the fouled spark plus solves the issue for 3-4 weeks only then it fouls again. What could be the cause of oil getting into the combustion chambers? The codes have been P0301 and P0304. I know for sure changing the spark plug in the fouled cylinder solves the problem for a bit

    1. Kevin – you could have a valve cover gasket or head gasket leak. It can be caused by wear and tear from a few other internal components but unless you have a really high mileage engine I would bet it is the valve cover gasket.

      1. A valve cover gasket does not let oil onto the part of the spark plug where the spark occurs. Fouled spark plugs happen with defective crankcase ventilation or defective piston control rings or defective valve stem seal. You can change the pcv valve if equipped and make sure air can flow into the valve cover from the air induction hose. If the car smoke mostly after the engine was off for hours then suspect valve stem seals. If it smokes mostly at hot idle or leaves wet oil on the plugs then expect bad oil rings.

  2. I have a 2012 Sonata, about 2-1/2 quarts disappear every 1,000 miles. It doesnt leak but I dont know where it goes.
    The car has 150,000 miles only due to the fact that I check the oil level when I get gas, otherwise it would have siezed about 90,000. The Hyundai guarantee does not cover oil usage, The Hyundai oil flow test is a setup to drag you out over the 100,000 warantee by cheating and filling the oil above the dipstick full level as the starting point for the test.
    I was considering buying the Palasaids. They have the same problems, wondering why Hyundai did not come up with a fix over the 12 years they have been in production.

  3. I have a 2017 with a 2.4 engine. with 16K miles. The above information produces a twinge of fear, especially driven in heavy traffic.

    1. I also have a 2017 Sonata with the 2.4 L engine. I have already had a combustion cleaning done less than 3 months ago and my car is already back to burning through oil like it’s nothing. If going by my experience, trade it in before you have these issues. This will total out my car.

  4. Have a 2015 sonata sport with the 2.4l at 116k that was having some oil consumption but no other issues. Suddenly engine started misfiring while on a road trip. Checked code and it was cylinder 3 misfire. Took it to Hyundai dealership and they stated low compression and offered a head machining or an engine replacement. What might your thoughts be on this! TIA

  5. I’m driving a 2013 Sonata Limited for commuting 140 miles daily. Currently the odometer is sitting at 296,XXX miles. I do have excess oil consumption (1 ~ 1.5 qts / 1,000 miles). There is no blue smoke from the exhaust and there are zero leaks. I did recently change the PCV valve that was shot, but there has been no noticeable improvement in the rate of consumption. Still driving daily and adding oil weekly.

  6. I have a 2017 Kia Optima EX that just turned 30k. I am experiencing stumbling and stalling with a check engine light coming on and, burning smell when pulled into the garage.

  7. I have both a 2013 Kia Optima and a 2012 Hyundai Sonata, that have both suffered the Connecting Rod Failure, the Optima at 198,000 Miles and the Sonata at 164,000. Although both were well past their generous 100K mile warranty both engines were replaced under the recall which makes me loyal to the brand(s). The Optima now sits at 308K miles and runs fantastic. The Hyundai only has about 10K miles since engine replacement and runs fine as well. Neither had noticeable oil consumption increases before failure and I always changed oil (myself) at under 6000 mile intervals. In all of the information I have gathered, I am thinking the failure may have less to do with metal “Debris” and more to do with a lubrication design flaw that starves the #4 cylinder of oil. Theories I have heard is that the recommended 5W20 oil may be a bit too thin and causes a loss of oil pressure by the time it travels all the way to Cylinder 4. One mechanic suggested that running heavier weight 10W30 actually is better for the engine and, technically is allowed in the operators manual though there may be a slight impact on overall fuel economy. I think this may have merit. Also since the GDI engines typically run at higher compression ratios than the 2.4L MPI there is more stress on the connecting rod bearings so, therefore the GDIs may be more prone to failure. In my opinion, as long as KIA and Hyundai continue to stand behind their recall, I wouldn’t hesitate to purchase a used one with the 2.4L Theta II engines. Getting a new engine at 150K miles far outweighs the inconvenience of a breakdown and tow to a dealership.

  8. 2007 KIA MAGENTIS, Usual noise on start up till hydraulic lifters settlr down but has a bubling type noise till milage 2 klms,correct oil and water levels, 280,000 klm on clock

  9. Hello! I’m currently fighting Kia nz on my 2017 Kia Sorento engine blowing up due to connecting rod failing. They are saying that it’s due to an after market filter being used and that it’s an mpi not gdi so it’s not the same issue as the ones in America. Is this true, your article makes it sound like mpi engines still had the same issues!

    1. Hi Rebee,

      I am not sure what the laws are in NZ nor am I a lawyer so take my word with a grain of salt. However, my understanding is that in the United States, aftermarket parts do not void warranty unless the manufacturer can prove that was the cause of the failure. An intake is extremely unlikely to cause severe damage like a connecting rod failure. If the laws are similar in NZ then Kia should be responsible for repair costs as long as the vehicle is still under warranty.

      Sorry to hear about the issues with your 2.4 Kia Sorento engine. Best of luck getting Kia NZ to cover the failure under warranty.

      Regards,
      Zach

      1. Thanks Zach, your article will also help me – three months on and still no help from Kia 🙁
        So just quickly – would the GDI and MPI engines have the same connecting rod issues or are they built differently? Thanks!

      2. Hi Rebee and Zach from another Kiwi (New Zealander). If the aftermarket filter was a Ryco brand Ryco stand behind their product as being OEM quality and guarantee against any failure caused by their parts. You could investigate this and if another brand that is common on NZ such as Repco house brand etc, maybe the same applies. If Kia can confirm in writing that the failure is due to an aftermarket filter then the Consumer Guarantees Act applies to the filter supplier. Consider the Disputes Tribunal or if an AA Member, AA technical people may assist you. Regards Vince

  10. Check all kia recall bulletins that are official, if your after market part filter is by an established company it will have an iso 9000 number plus an official industry standard rating backed by trade and government standards. To win your case send an official copy of kias findings and advising that filter company to assist you to validate their filter is suitable for your vehicle. Also ask them if their legal team can help you make valid claim against kia.
    (special note if you have used an oil other than synthetic. It will carbonize and block oil arturies (restricted size) CAUSING ABOVE, Claim unvalidated!
    A second claim if first fails is against Kia not standing by their 5 year warranty, that in some countries extends to 10 years.A threat, a Claim, do not envock or mention until all other avenues failed Wait 2 months after zero result to envoke.With the mention of obtaining a CLASS ACTION.

    Search the internet prior so they can see you are acquiring feedback from open forums, this way even if you are wrong,will see this is more damaging than fixing the problem. They will have their own sources without you mentioning it is already under way.

    Good Luck.

    1. Thankyou! It’s been nearly three months now and they still won’t admit it’s their engine. The filter company (Ryco) have been brilliant and are assisting – and the right oil was used 🙂

  11. I have the 2015, 2.4l cvvt petrol. Doesn’t start on cam sensor. Starts on crank sensor only. First diagnosis replace cam position sensor same problem, then they said ecu
    Eventually motor stalled., reconditioned motor smae problem. Put a usd ecu and still no start. Now it’s pushing fuel into the oil.
    I am boggled.. Some advises were cam pick is incorrect
    .

  12. Disclaimer-This is for comment only and may not apply to yours or other engines, It only applies to experience with one engine,There is a glaring fault with the 2.4 ltr fuel injected engine on start up,having taken all complaints into account,
    This could and maybe point to cylinder one and four big end having excessive wear . The oil pumped up to the top end starves the crankcase oil level below minimumn on dip stickk, any restrictions in head lubrication areas, can keep oil away for up to 3 minutes before above minimumn oil level shows on dip stick.
    Stage 1.
    Stage two Blockages in head forces excess oil into cylinder one and four. (EXCESSIVE OIL USAGE).
    Blockages carbonizing of delivery tube allows build-up, that suddenly releases into cylinder,sucked in then compressed-Hydraulics the piston to or above diesel standards causing bottom end collapse.
    As this is theorised from all prevaling conditions outlined by users.
    In my case catch cans are being installed at both these points,to prevent such a scenerio.
    Check your dipstick by cleaning quick in and out (Gives true Level).
    Check repeatably when engine stopped,(CLEAN-EVERY TIME) until full oil level shows.
    Time this and jot into your service notes. Any increase in time between services point to engine oil starvation or blockage.

  13. I drive a 2015 Kia Optima with the 2.4l Theta II GDI. It blew up on the freeway.

    My local KIA dealership replaced the entire engine free of cost and compensated me with cash for all the towing and rental. Lifetime warranty under the lawsuit settlement.

    The weird thing is they didn’t put a brand new engine in, they put another used Theta II but it runs good.

    The main indicator that it was blown beside not turning over was finding aluminum shards in the oil.

    I still love my Optima and soon getting the Stinger GT2.

  14. I have a 2017 Sante fe sport 2.4 at 65k miles which consumes 1 qt every 1k miles and it’s been rattling (bottom end). Oil changed at 3k. I’m going to take it to the local Hyundai dealership and hope they will diagnose it properly at tell me the engine needs to be replaced and it’ll be covered. I’m definitely going to put up a fight because I’ve been doing the oil changes for the last 25k miles and putting in a quart ever 1k miles. I looked up my vin on the Canadian lawsuit but it doesn’t come up as an affected build. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

    Thank you for the clear cut warnings!

  15. Aggg – regularly changed Oil on the 2013 Sonata 2.4 L GDI engine – even early sometimes. No obvious problems, leaks – or excess oil consumption – but did seem a little dirty at around 60,000 miles after change – and always changed the filter. Took it back after two weeks – but the service expert said it was normal. Last week, at about 81,000 miles – having last changed oil and filter around 75,000 miles – poof – engine stops in the middle of the afternoon – here in San Diego – at average speed. Have two months left on the 10 year warranty and waiting for word back from Hyundai to OK engine replacement. Have all the records – faithfully serviced at Hyundai – so should there be any reason to worry ?

  16. Just purchased a 2012 Hyundai Tucson from a used dealership. Within a week of driving, the oil consumption was low and the engine made the knocking sound. My car is currently at the Hyundai dealership and I’m unsure when I’ll get the vehicle back. Not a good experience at all. Wish I never purchased the vehicle and went for a Toyota or Honda.

  17. I have a 2016 Hyundai Sonata SE 2.4 GDI and this is the 2nd engine. The Original engine starting at 78,000mi. The stalling, rough idle, when at stoplight it would idle up an almost caused me to wreck, loss of power, loss of oil, etc.. It left me stranded so many times hours away from home. I had to travel alot due to my husbands medical issues and so therefore i always made sure my car was always serviced with manufacturer products.
    At 109,000mi and with Hyundai documents to prove an ongoing issue, they finally replaced my enginge to the 2.4 GDI. Again, same issues started at 36,000 on this engine. It lost power suddenly, engine light flashing, and in limp mode. This time i was by myself 6hrs from home on the interstate. The dealer that supposedly fixed it said wasnt getting enough oil to the rod bearings and all they did was reset the computer and did a software update. Said i shoudnt have anymore issues. Thats a lie, cause again on interstate and this time with my husband who just got released from the trans plant hospital and 8hrs from home, sudden loss of power, eng light flashing, and in limp mode. Engine has 68,000mi Dealer kept car for a month and said they cleared computer and did a software update and should have no further issues. That didnt last but couple weeks. Same darn thing again. All my Hyundai paperwork from the dealerships show the same darn numbers and codes from day one to current. Hyundai does everything they can not to follow the guidelines setfourth in the court documents they were ordered to do if a customers car is under the recall and lifetime warrenty. I have all mine and stay on top of maintenance with Hyundai products. If wasnt for the engine issues i’d give them 100% satisfaction. I do love the car, fuel mileage, comfort, roomy, drives great, gets up an goes, and first vehicle i ever owned i can travel for long trips and not have any complaints. It handles great. As far as this engine issue, i am sick an tired of the dealerships making every excuse not to do what they are already paid to do, and tired of hearing Hyundai”s BLA BLAH BLAH when i email them or call them. It all in black an white Hyundai paperwork with same numbers and codes of this repeated issue. Fix the darn thing and thats putting it nicely. I worked with my day in his shop eversince i was 12 as a mechanic and it so frustrating to me that they dont even give a rats butt about standing behind their products when they are continuously with same faulty issues on their part., their fault. Yes, before anyone mentions it, i have seeked an attorney, right now finances for a lawyer to get something done is not an option for me right. My husband just pasted away in November and with a Lemon car sitting in driveway, only vehicle in driveway its doing all i can to even get to work so i can get back on ok ground. It ok, i still being that pesty person calling them and email them daily to try an get them off their rear ends. BOTH ENGINES ARE NOT SATISFACTORY.

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