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Used 2016+ Tucson's GDI engine needs close inspection before buying

Tucson models with the 1.6 T engine came with a dual-clutch transmission which uses some unique hardware, but functions like a conventional automatic from the driver’s seat.
Tucson models with the 1.6 T engine came with a dual-clutch transmission which uses some unique hardware, but functions like a conventional automatic from the driver’s seat. - Justin Pritchard

With its revised looks, drive, and feature content, the 2016 Hyundai Tucson represented a major overhaul when it arrived as an all-new model in calendar-year 2015. 

Owners gravitated toward Tucson for its compelling list of feature content, as well as the model’s best-yet blend of ride comfort and refinement, enabled in no small part thanks to a high-tensile new body structure.

All units got four-cylinder power from one of two engines, including the 1.6T turbocharged unit, ideal for driving enthusiasts. Most models have all-wheel drive, though front-drive variants were also available in lower trim grades. 

Feature content may include a smart-key ignition, premium audio systems, a panoramic moonroof, heated steering wheel, drive mode toggle switch, and various advanced safety features. 

As a compact crossover, Tucson isn’t the largest used machine available for your dollar, but most owners say it’s a just-right size that’s easy to manoeuver and park.

Check the records

The Tucson you’re considering may still be within its factory warranty period, but shoppers will need to check all service records to confirm that’s the case. To maintain Tucson’s warranty coverage in good standing, strict adherence to a pre-set service, maintenance and inspection schedule is mandatory. This can be found in the back of the owner’s manual. Buying a used Tucson without confirmation that all items in that schedule are up to date could jeopardize remaining warranty coverage. Remember, the warranty doesn’t cover damage or wear deemed the result of a failure to maintain the vehicle properly.

Transmission Check

As a compact crossover, Tucson isn’t the largest used machine available for your dollar, but most owners say it’s a just-right size that’s easy to manoeuver and park. - Justin Pritchard
As a compact crossover, Tucson isn’t the largest used machine available for your dollar, but most owners say it’s a just-right size that’s easy to manoeuver and park. - Justin Pritchard

Tucson models with the 1.6 T engine came with a dual-clutch transmission which uses some unique hardware, but functions like a conventional automatic from the driver’s seat. The owner’s community has reported some issues with this transmission, up to and including transmission failure. A class-action lawsuit was launched as well. Warning signs include hard or clumsy shifting, slamming, or malfunction warning lights, which may reference a transmission overheating condition. Note that many such problems can be remedied with an electronic reboot or reflash of the transmission, and that most models with this transmission suffered no issues. Still, protect yourself by having a technician investigate any issues you notice, and ask about any extended warranty coverage that might be available if buying from a dealer.

Power Tailgate

Do a few tests on the power tailgate, if equipped. Confirm you can open and close it from all controls, including the remote, the tailgate button, and the control button in the vehicle. Do this several times. At any sign of struggling or an unexpected reversal in direction, have the tailgate checked over professionally for hardware and electronic problems before you buy. When closing the tailgate, apply some resistance with your hand, confirming that the tailgate reverses direction, too. 

GDI Engine Care

Like all GDI engines, Tucson’s engines may be susceptible to harmful valve gunk buildup over long periods of time if proper maintenance and care isn’t followed to the letter. To keep your Tucson’s engine ticking properly for the long haul, get obsessive with the maintenance: perform all oil changes on time, in a dealer setting, using only approved parts and filters. Change spark plugs not a moment later than specified in the owner’s manual. Ditto the air filter. Finally, be sure to fuel with fresh gasoline from a reputable retailer, and be sure the seller has done the same. These steps can contribute to a cleaner-running engine, and may help mitigate possible valve gunk buildup.

The information presented above is gathered from online owner discussion groups and collaboration with a network of automotive repair professionals. The above information is not a comprehensive list of all possible issues with the vehicle in question and is instead intended to draw shopper attention to possible trouble spots they may wish to investigate before they buy. In most cases, problems listed above are reported with relative rarity in comparison to total sales volume. Shoppers are advised to have a dealer-performed pre-purchase inspection on the vehicle they’re considering for maximum peace of mind.

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