Hyundai Should Get Out With the Nu, Their Ticking Time-Bomb of an Engine

Posted on
#lawsuit #engine
A Nu engine with the pistons, cam shaft, and timing chain covered in oil.

For a bit of backstory, the 1.8L Nu engine was first introduced in the 2011 Elantra to welcome in the vehicle's 5th generation. It aimed to “fill the gap” between Hyundai’s 1.6L Gamma and 2.0L Theta engines, while improving on the fuel economy of its 1.8L Beta predecessor.

EngineHPTorqueCompressionCylinder Block
Beta 1.8L130hp126 ft.lb9.2:1Cast Iron
Nu 1.8L148hp131 ft.lb10.3:1Aluminum

The engine offers similar power to the Beta engine, but its “unique configuration results in a block that is 30 percent lighter than an iron block, shedding more than 74 pounds off the entire engine weight[1].

A less bulky engine is a good thing when you're undoubtedly going to have to haul it to this scrapyard soon.

Piston Slap and Ticking Noise Complaints

The Nu engine has an infamous engine tick that is consistent with something known as piston slap. That happens when the piston head isn’t properly secured, allowing the piston to rotate and slap against the cylinder wall.

Owners typically complain about the ticking or knocking noise during the engine’s start-up. That’s because as the engine reaches operating temperature, the piston will expand to sit more securely in the cylinder.

There's plenty of debate over this noise and whether it poses any threat. But it's been complained about enough for Hyundai to address it in a technical service bulletin.

Hyundai Canada releases TSB #12-20-002

In March 2014, Hyundai Auto Canada Corporation acknowledged the ticking noise as “defects in the piston skirt coating as well as improper finishing of the connecting rods.” in the 2011-2013 Elantra.

Dealerships were warned that owners might complain that “the engine exhibits a loud knock during start up, but the noise reduces as the engine reaches operating temperature.” Hyundai requested that dealerships reject any warranty claims unless the owner could provide perfect oil change records.

The TSB only applied to Canadian cars, even though those sold in the US were built on the same assembly lines.

Lawsuit Over Ticking Noise From Pistons in Nu Engines

In July 2018, Elizabeth Brown filed a lawsuit accusing Hyundai of covering up Nu engine issues and failing to honor their warranty.

Although her Elantra engine was allegedly still covered by a 10-year/100,000 mile powertrain warranty, Hyundai said the oil sludge problem was caused by Brown for failing to change the oil in the car. The Hyundai dealer allegedly said the least expensive option would be to pay $3,500 for a used engine.

Brown’s engine failure happened around 64,000 miles which is well below the standard 100,000-mile warranty. But rather than offer to help, the automaker was quick to point fingers at oil sludge in the engine as a potential sign of neglect from the owner.

The lawsuit points out:

  1. TSB #12-20-002 is evidence of Hyundai's preference to blame owner’s maintenance habits over their own knowledge of the engine’s defects.
  2. Even owners with "perfect oil records" have had their engines replaced.
  3. The replacement Nu engines show exhibit the same defects as before.

The case was settled in May 2021. Details are pending.

  1. 30% lighter quote from Hyundai Nu Press Release ↩︎

Nu Engine Tick Lawsuits

Lawsuits about this problem have already been filed in court. Many times these are class-action suits that look to cover a group of owners in a particular area. Click on the lawsuit for more information and to see if you're eligible to receive any potential settlements.

  • Settlement

    Elizabeth Brown, et al., v. Hyundai Motor America, et al.

    1. Settlement

      Hyundai will extend the powertrain warranty for a car registered in a cold weather state and owned by the original purchaser, original lessee or certified pre-owned Elantra purchaser. The extended powertrain warranty covers the engine block, crankshaft, connecting rods and pistons from damage accompanied by a piston slap noise in the upper end of the engine.

    2. Dismissed

      The judge ruled the plaintiff's claims of future repairs and diminished value of his Elantra are flawed, and the plaintiffs failed to assert facts showing Hyundai's replacement engines contain the same defects alleged to exist in the original engines. The complaints may be amended.

    3. Motion to dismiss

      Hyundai has filed a motion to dismiss the case because some of the complaints never mention anything about a clicking or ticking noise and several complaints specifically say Hyundai was not notified of the failure.

    4. Case Filed

      Hyundai Elantra engine ticking noise has caused a proposed class-action lawsuit that includes all consumers who are former or current owners and lessees of 2011-2016 Hyundai Elantras equipped with “Nu” 1.8-liter engines.

    Class Vehicles
    • 2011-2016 Hyundai Elantra
    Class Members
    Most cold weather states
    New Jersey

Generations Where This Problem Has Been Reported

This problem has popped up in the following Hyundai generations.

Most years within a generation share the same parts and manufacturing process. You can also expect them to share the same problems. So while it may not be a problem in every year yet, it's worth looking out for.

Further Reading

A timeline of stories related to this problem. We try to boil these stories down to the most important bits so you can quickly see where things stand. Interested in getting these stories in an email? Signup for free email alerts for your vehicle over at

  1. Hyundai is questioning the merits of a class-action lawsuit that says the 1.8L Nu engine is a ticking time bomb.

    The troublesome engine can be found in the 2011-2016 Elantra and is known for ticking noises, oil sludge, and premature failure. The automaker has a history of blaming these problems on poor maintenance and often denies warranty claims. So what else is Nu?

    keep reading article "Hyundai Questions Merits of Nu Piston Slap Lawsuit"

What Owners Say About This Problem

Brought [car] to dealer after noted ticking noise from engine. Had already looked up ticking noise and is related to piston slap. Hyundai agreed to pay half of price of short block, my price was $4000 out of pocket. Since new short block placed has had nothing but other issues with rough idling when stopped or in park.

2013 Elantra Owner in MN

OK, Now What?

Maybe you've experienced this problem. Maybe you're concerned you will soon. Whatever the reason, here's a handful of things you can do to make sure it gets the attention it deserves.

  1. File Your Complaint is a free site dedicated to uncovering problem trends and informing owners about potential issues with their cars. Major class action law firms use this data when researching cases.

    Add a Complaint
  2. Notify CAS

    The Center for Auto Safety (CAS) is a pro-consumer organization that researches auto safety issues & often compels the US government to do the right thing through lobbying & lawsuits.

    Notify The CAS
  3. Report a Safety Concern

    The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is the US agency with the authority to conduct vehicle defect investigations & force recalls. Their focus is on safety-related issues.

    Report to NHTSA