Latest Reader Q (Sept. 11, 2017)

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Here’s the latest reader question, along with my reply:

Stephen asks:

When we purchase new vehicles we normally keep them for 10+ years. My 2002 Tacoma was only recently retired due to getting totaled by a guy who didn’t stop for a stop sign.  And my wife’s 2008 CRV is still  in the driveway. With that said, I am interested in the Hyundai Elantra GT. Should I get the standard GT rather than the Sport (that has the turbo). On your reviews you always have concerns about the turbos when they get out of warranty. With Hyundai’s 10 year 100,000 mile warranty, is this one turbo you could recommend? Or should I play it safe and go with the regular GT?

My reply:

Turbos and their related plumbing/parts add complexity to an engine; more stuff that’s subject to wear and tear inevitably means more things that will eventually need repair. I italicized “eventually” for good reason.

You may never have a problem. Then again, you may. It depends to a great extent on how long you keep the vehicle and how many miles you drive. Hyundai does provide excellent powertrain coverage – and that coverage includes the turbo. The question becomes: Are you planning to keep the car after the warranty coverage expires? And if yes, are you ok with the possibility that you may at some point be facing a pretty expensive repair bill for the turbo?

With the non-turbocharged engine, you eliminate this concern – and potential expense. But, of course, you won’t get the extra power that the turbo offers.

So it comes down to a risk-benefit equation and also what your personal comfort level is, all the foregoing leavened by the track record (to date) of the brand/model car you are considering.

Hyundais have a very solid track record lately (and for the last five-plus years back, too). They seem to be as well-built as equivalent Honda and Toyota vehicles.

The risk of turbo problems happening before you get to say 120,000 miles or so is probably low – but it’s not nonexistent.

It’s kind of analogous to buying a fancier appliance that has additional features – vs. a basic model that just gets the job done. One gives you more – but can cost you more. The other costs less and will probably be trouble-free for longer, but it’s not as snazzy and doesn’t do much except the basic job for which it was designed.

Hope this was helpful!

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  1. Quick comment: I did some digging. The Elantra GT Sport uses the turbo 1.6L “Gamma” engine which has both turbo and direct injection (T-GDI). I’m not sure if it has been designed around the growing carbon fouling problem on the intake valves which is killing a percentage of other turbo-DI engines in other makes.

    Normally such issues don’t arise until 70k+ mileage, once enough carbon has deposited on the intake valves to interfere with compression and performance. Given the lengthy Hyundai warranty, one would think they have a solution to this, probably inexpensive, since they will have to find a way to clean the intake valves themselves periodically to avoid more expensive warranty repairs.

    This is a widely known problem among car mechanics, apparently, but not widely acknowledged by the manufacturers. Cars today, despite being more capable than ever of going 100k miles and more with little more than routine maintenance, and generally being capable of 200-300k miles easily, are treated more like disposable items, despite their expense. Few people even look at a car with over 100k on the ODO lately.


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