The Hyundai Accent is an award-winning compact car that was first launched in 1994.
The latest editions are known for their crisp styling, nimble driving demeanor and no-nonsense interior design – all at an accessible price.
Despite the accolades, the Accent isn’t perfect – no vehicle is – in this article we’ll cover its most common problems.
1. Airbags Did Not Deploy
According to Car Problem Zoo, a site dedicated to collecting car owners’ feedback, the most commonly reported issue with the Accent is that the airbags did not deploy.
This problem has been reported on a number of Accent models from 1999 to 2017 and also 2020.
Here’s what a few owners have had to say:
“I fainted behind the wheel and rear-ended another driver and my airbags did not deploy which resulted in an slight head injury.”
“Car involved in a high speed (65mph) incident on the interstate. Hit by an 18-wheeler and a guard rail head-on. Airbags did not deploy.”
“Airbags did not deploy in a crash into a median barrier on the highway. Speed at about 50 mph, with a front/side impact, after spinning on icy roads.”
There have been a number of high-profile recalls for various Hyundai vehicles for their airbags over the years, including the Accent.
We suspect a number of these incidents where the airbag didn’t deploy were because the recall issue had not been addressed, for whatever reason.
However, it is more than likely that some of these incidents involved Accents that had not been recalled.
To be on the safe side, we advise all Accent owners to run a VIN check on the NHTSA website to see if their car has been recalled.
If the airbag warning light comes on this is the primary indicator of a fault with the airbags.
2. Airbag Light On
Another airbag-related issue commonly associated with the Accent is that the airbag warning light comes on.
This has been reported throughout the car’s history and is mostly reported on 2006-2009 models and 2015 – 2017 models.
Many owners have reported that the light usually comes on in cold weather whilst for others, the light will just come on and off at random.
Here’s what one unhappy 2017 Accent driver had to say:
“Occupant classification system defect. My car was only 2,000 miles out of warranty and Hyundai will not cover this defect. Right passenger seat airbag sensor mat is faulty causing the airbag light to come on. I’ve done my research online and this is pretty common. It should be a recall and I shouldn’t be having to spend $1,400 to get it fixed.”
For the 2015 – 2017 models the problem seems to be mostly related to a fault with the occupant detection system (ODS).
There has been a recall for this issue however, it seems this recall only affects certain model year 2015 Accents.
According to cars.com here’s the info on the recall:
In very cold temperatures, the occupant detection system (ODS) may not be able to determine if a child restraint seat is in the front passenger seat.
If the ODS fails to detect that the seat is occupied by a child restraint seat, the front airbag will not be deactivated and, in the event of a crash necessitating front airbag deployment, the airbag deployment could cause increased risk of injury to the occupant in the child restraint seat.
3. Car Catches Fire
One of the most shocking problems we’ve come across for the Accent is that the car spontaneously catches fire – this problem has been reported on the 2012 and 2013 models.
This issue is no laughing matter – here’s what the owners had to say:
“My car was parked in a friend’s driveway. Moments after exiting the vehicle the engine caught fire. There were no previous issues. Smells. Warning lights. Drove just fine. Thanks to a passing off-duty fireman he stopped and sprang into action with the garden hose until the fire dept arrived just moments later.“
“My vehicle caught fire as it was parked. We heard a pop sound and then the fire started.”
Hyundai recalled more than 272,000 vehicles for a faulty 12V electrical outlet in the dashboard that can overheat and catch fire. This included certain 2012 Hyundai Accent models.
Apparently, the outlets had been installed too tightly during assembly, disabling the part designed to prevent overheating.
The recall states that this problem occurs when using a tire mobility kit that gets plugged into the outlet in order to fix a flat tire.
However, the owner complaints we read have not mentioned having a flat tire or using the outlet although we suspect there is a correlation between the fires and the faulty outlets nonetheless.
To be on the safe side, run a VIN check on the NHTSA website to see if your car has been affected by any recalls.
4. Engine Knocking
Engine knocking is one of the most dreaded sounds in the auto industry, simply because it often precedes engine failure.
There have been some Accent owners who have testified that they experienced engine knocking sounds and this was sometimes accompanied by a Check Engine Light coming on. This problem has been reported on 2012, 2016 and 2017 models.
Here’s one owners account:
“My check engine light came on and stayed on, while the oil light appeared when my car was in idle and the engine began to knock. My aaa approved mechanic determined that the engine had a rod knock and the oil pressure at idle was only 3 psi. In other words, the engine had completely failed and would have to be replaced. At 36,000 miles!”
If you hear a knocking sound coming from the engine, drive slowly and directly to your nearest mechanic. The engine could well be about to fail.
Hyundai has recalled a large number of its vehicles from 2011-2016 for engine knocking problems although to the best of our knowledge, the Hyundai Accent was not recalled for this issue.
The recall itself was due to defective rod bearings that can wear out prematurely and cause critical engine damage and owners often reported the engine knocking sound.
We can’t be sure whether there is a link between the Accent engine knocking and the recall…
Related: 12 Best & Worst Hyundai Accent Years (With Facts & Stats)
5. Transmission Failure
According to industry data, Accent models from the early 2000s were known to have transmission problems. These were most commonly reported on the 2000 – 2001 and 2004 models.
There are a number of reports on Car Complaints, specifically from 2004 Accent owners who experienced transmission failure at around 90,000 miles with an average repair cost of $2,250.
Some owners have even gone through two transmissions in less than a few years, here’s one owner’s story:
“The transmission for this car failed two times so far for me. The first time I went to the dealers and they gave me 6 month’s warranty. After 1 1/2 years the transmission blew up again. I contacted Hyundai and told them about it and they said there is nothing that they can do and that I would just have to go through the process of buying another transmission from them and they would charge me over $3000 to get my transmission work done which was too much.”
Owners of 2000 – 2001 Accent models have had transmission problems, including:
- Vehicle violently jerking
- Won’t shift above first gear
- Vehicle shaking intermittently
- Transmission would not shift
- Check Engine Light
In most instances with such severe transmission problems, the most straightforward solution is simply to replace the transmission although you have to weigh up the value of the car against the cost of a replacement.
6. Rusting Suspension Coils
According to data from Repair Pal, the most commonly reported Hyundai Accent problem is the rusting of suspension coil springs, this problem has been reported on models from 1995 – 2010.
It is noted however that this is only really a problem in regions that heavily salt the roads during the winter.
For those living in drier states, rust will be much less of a problem however paint fading will be more common.
There have been recalls for this issue so it’s always a good idea to run a VIN check to see if you have been affected.
Tips to protect your Accent from rust:
- Regularly wash and dry your car: This includes its underside (especially during the winter) to remove the salt, dirt and grime that causes rust. We recommend having a detail shop wash everything underneath at the end of each winter.
- Repair paint damage and scratches: Exposed metal will oxidize. If it’s beyond a DIY fix, speak to your local body repair shop.
- Garage: Store your car in a garage to protect it from harsh weather and bird droppings.
- Waxing: Wax your car twice a year. Not only will this give your Jetta a nice shine, it also gives it a protective coating against rust.
- Rustproofing: If you’re planning on keeping your Accent for a very long time, you might want to consider a rustproofing treatment; popular choices are Krown and Rust Check.
- Ceramic Coating: A popular choice for those who want to add an extra layer of protection to the paint job.
Hyundai Accent Model Years With the Most Problems
To get a better idea of which Hyundai Accent has the most problems the fairest way is to compare models based on the number of vehicles sold in relation to the number of reported problems.
We’re using Car Complaints PPMY index which means problems reported per thousand vehicles per Year.
For example, newer cars will have fewer complaints simply because they’ve been around for less time.
Based on this index, the most problematic years are:
- 2012 – 0.21 PPMY
- 2016 – 0.20 PPMY
- 2015, 2020 – 0.19 PPMY
And the least problematic years are:
- 2003, 2004 – 0.05 PPMY
- 2014, 2019 – 0.08 PPMY
- 2000, 2001, 2002 – 0.09 PPMY
|Problems||Sales||Vehicle Age||PPMY Index|
Source: Car Problem Zoo
Hyundai Accent Pros and Cons
If you’re considering a Hyundai Accent as your next car you might be wondering what its strengths and weaknesses are…
- Very affordable
- Classy styling
- Clean interior design
- Excellent fuel economy
- User-friendly infotainment system
- Sprightly handling
- Coarse-sounding and underwhelming engine
- Snug rear seat space
- Small trunk
- Mediocre performance
Related: 7 Most Common Hyundai Sonata Problems (Explained)
Hyundai Accent Reliability Compared to Similar Cars
Consumer Reports rankings detailed below is based on the model’s newest three years, the Hyundai Accent sits at the top, with a relatively good score of 56/100.
|Make & Model||Consumer Reports|
Source: Consumer Reports
Repair Pal ranks the Hyundai accent in 5th position out of 21 subcompact cars with a solid 4.5/5.0.
|1||Toyota Yaris||4.5 / 5.0|
|2||Toyota Prius C||4.5 / 5.0|
|3||Mazda2||4.5 / 5.0|
|4||Honda Fit||4.5 / 5.0|
|5||Hyundai Accent||4.5 / 5.0|
|6||Kia Rio||4.5 / 5.0|
|7||Mitsubishi Mirage||4.5 / 5.0|
|8||Mazda MX-5 Miata||4.0 / 5.0|
|9||Nissan Versa||4.0 / 5.0|
|10||Chevrolet Spark||4.0 / 5.0|
|11||Nissan Versa Note||4.0 / 5.0|
|12||Honda CR-Z||4.0 / 5.0|
|13||Chevrolet Aveo||4.0 / 5.0|
|14||Chevrolet Sonic||4.0 / 5.0|
|15||Ford Fiesta||4.0 / 5.0|
|16||Smart Fortwo||4.0 / 5.0|
|17||Nissan Cube||3.5 / 5.0|
|18||Fiat 500||3.5 / 5.0|
|19||Mini Cooper Countryman||3.5 / 5.0|
|20||Subaru BRZ||3.0 / 5.0|
|21||Mini Cooper||3.0 / 5.0|
|Avg. Subcompact Car||4.0|
Hyundai Accent Used Value
We’ve taken a look on Car Gurus to gauge the resale value of a Hyundai Accent, below are typical asking prices for each model year.
According to Car Edge, a Hyundai Accent will depreciate 23% after 5 years and have a 5 year resale value of $17,416.
Note: Used model prices will vary depending on trim level.
|Model Year||Mileage (miles)||Resale Price|
Source: Car Gurus
Related: 4 Most Common Problems With Hyundai Elantra (Explained)
What Do Owners Like and Dislike About the Hyundai Accent?
Based on owner feedback from the Kelley Blue Book site here are what real-life owners love and hate about the Hyundai Accent.
- Fuel economy
- Smooth drive
- Sleek design
- Easy to own
- Lack of back support
- No middle console
- Small cabin
“Perfect for a small family. Great trunk space.”
Source: Kelley Blue Book
“Great car, very reliable, great on gas. Low cost of maintenance. Only selling my car because I want to upgrade to a different Hyundai.”
Source: Kelley Blue Book
“I just picked up this car, great for the environment and compact, the way I like it”
How Reliable Are Hyundai Cars?
According to a recent report from Consumer Reports, Hyundai are ranked the 11th most reliable car manufacturer out of 28 brands, with a score of 56/100.
Source: Consumer Reports
Related: How Long Do Hyundai Accents Last? (11 Important Facts)