Is the Hyundai Grand Starex's CRDi diesel engine unreliable?


Hello, Mr. Ferman. We were planning to buy a brand-new Hyundai Grand Starex Gold, but we postponed the purchase after talking to a mechanic here in Cavite. He told us that the reason the Grand Starex's CRDi diesel engine is powerful is because the diesel fuel supposedly passes through a "catalytic converter" or some special filter before going to the engine. According to him, when said filter is consumed or becomes dirty, it loses its effectiveness and the CRDi engine suddenly loses its potency. He added that some Grand Starex units get returned to the service shop even when new, just to have the aforementioned "catalytic converter" replenished.

Is this true? Isn't this dangerous if, say, you're going up a hill and the engine suddenly loses its power? Also, if true, then that would mean you need to keep having the "catalytic converter" fixed throughout the life span of the vehicle.

I hope you can enlighten me on this as our family is really considering the Grand Starex van.

Vicente Yuson Gatchalian

There is really no difference between the design of the Grand Starex's CRDi diesel engine and those of other modern EFI (electronic fuel injection) diesel engines used by Toyota, Mitsubishi, Isuzu, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Audi and Kia, among others. Most modern EFI diesel engines have a high fuel pressure and really require servicing at some point so the fuel filter may be replaced. If this fuel filter isn't replaced at the right time, the engine will indeed lose its potency. The same is true with gasoline engines.

As for the catalytic converter, its function is to treat or catalyze the emissions coming out of the engine so that it becomes less toxic for environment's sake. Perhaps what the mechanic was referring to is the particulate trap located in the exhaust system of a modern diesel engine. Its function is to burn the soot particles that accumulate inside the exhaust system so as to prevent its clogging. A clogged exhaust system will indeed result in reduced performance.

Best regards,

Ferman Lao
Technical Editor

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  • PZEV Aug 31 2012 @ 06:16am
    Try to look the vehicle using Fuel Delivery Module with Lifetime filter assembly,this can prevent sudden loose engine performance due to contamination from fuel that we use .
  • tatang1976 Aug 31 2012 @ 08:00am
    This thing happened to my KIA Sorrento last year. When my engine rpm reaches 2,500 the engine stalls and will eventually shut-off. The cause of the problem is the sensors in the fuel filter. The cause of the failure is attributed to the poor quality of diesel fuel we had in the country. I replaced thru the service center the fuel filter assembly which cost almost 10k. After that I shift to Petron Turbo Diesel. Since then I no longer encountered the same problem. And I observed with the use of the fuel that my car has better acceleration and superb pulling power.
    • car_mac Aug 31 2012 @ 08:54am
      What was your former diesel fuel?
    • 17Sphynx17 Aug 31 2012 @ 10:30am
      I don't think it was the brand of fuel per se. My guess is it was the service station giving you the poor quality fuel.

      It is a fact that there are some station that buy from Illegal sources although they are franchises of the Big 3. Even if it were Euro 2, the engines brought in were capable of being used with those fuels in mind as long as you keep in line with your PMS there shouldn't be a problem.

      However, because of the unscrupulous practices of some service station, they taint the quality of the brand they have franchised which ends up giving you a poor quality fuel.

      Quite frankly for your Sorento, you theoretically don't need the Turbo Diesel and just Diesel Maxx is enough. You also don't need the Vpower Diesel. It does offer a performance bump but it does in no way dictate that it is a cleaner or better quality fuel. If you want better quality fuel, go with Unioil which is Euro 4, or Seaoil which is Euro 3 if I am not mistaken.

      I forgot if Flying V had that Coco Diesel mix. It has been a long time since I updated myself with these players as I still use one of the Big 3.

      • windel Aug 31 2012 @ 08:41pm
        Is seaoil using euro 3 biodiesel? Ano yung mga disadvantages ng biodiesel? I heard that it absorbs more moisture.
        • 17Sphynx17 Aug 31 2012 @ 08:58pm
          I have a theory on these organic mixed fuels. This goes with ethanol mixes and biodiesels. I haven't personally used biodiesels or Unioil although I would really love to try them but I have the credit card rebate of 3% when I top up so I prefer that option still even if it is Euro 2.

          But since it is organic for biodiesel, I do feel there is a possibility of it causing problems the longer it stays in your tank idle. Be it moisture or the build up of some other contaminant. But this is my speculation so I avoid the biodiesels as I can not guarantee to myself that I can empty out the tank at regular intervals.

          With the case of the ethanol based fuels, my experience with them is the longer the fuel is in your tank, the quicker it seems to empty. Hear me out on this. Ethanol is basically an alcohol and as is known with alcohols, when you leave it out in the air, it easily dissipates into the air that's why if you leave perfumes or alcohol bottles open, you notice they will drop in volume.

          Now, they are relatively cleaner but I feel they also end up emptying out quicker depending on how long it stayed in your tank. (Basically inversely proportional with time)

          If you can try an experiment, you could top up your car with ethanol based fuel and say emptied it out in one week against say the same full tank at three weeks, you tend to get lower mileage figures.

          Some may argue that the idle time is more with the longer duration but I don't know I just did that experiment with one of our sedans before and it was really noticeable. I switched back to non ethanol based fuel for the time being and my mileage returned to "normal".

          However, now, it is all ethanol based fuels with the exception of Petron Pinoy Gas.

  • dmaxred18 Aug 31 2012 @ 08:04am
    No wonder. Korean cars = always and will ever be unreliable.... Better buy japanese cars (esp. Isuzu, toyota, etc.)
    • GotToRead Aug 31 2012 @ 12:52pm
      Fan boy.
    • ricperez Sep 01 2012 @ 12:04pm
      Your comment is bad and you should feel bad.
    • carwiki Sep 01 2012 @ 10:08pm
      No one agrees your comment. Sorry. Buying cars depend on the taste of the customers. :)
  • car_mac Aug 31 2012 @ 08:57am
    Korean cars just need to add more quality and craftsmanship to their products. Thats the only thing their lacking.
    • GotToRead Aug 31 2012 @ 12:54pm
      You know what's lacking? The access to better fuel quality, that's what is lacking, other countries are now in Euro IV and Euro V while we are stuck in Euro II. Edi mag enjoy ka sa pag singhot ng usok galing sa tambucho ng Euro II compliant.
    • ricperez Sep 01 2012 @ 12:03pm
      your comment is bad and you should feel bad
      • ricperez Sep 01 2012 @ 12:03pm
        lol wrong send! para kay dmaxred18 'to hehe
  • BJ Aug 31 2012 @ 09:30am
    The headline is misleading. It shed a dark light on Hyundai when in fact it's a false claim by the uninformed mechanic.
  • Ket106 Aug 31 2012 @ 09:48am
    I think it's a cheap shot to blame Korean carmakers forthright, since it was already mentioned in the article that even Japanese cars use the same design of EFI engines. Anyway, quite a negative title, in my opinion; may be why a couple negative comments were spurred.
    • JFLising Aug 31 2012 @ 10:20pm
      The title isn't really negative if you look at it because it is not stating directly that the Starex's engine is unreliable. It is said in the form of a question, which is then answered here in the article by Mr. Lao. The title isn't to blame for the negative comments about Hyundai or the Korean Cars in general. Some people really are just negative thinkers from the start or maybe just hates Korean cars for their own reason and understanding.
  • The Stig Aug 31 2012 @ 09:53am
    Better buy japanese cars...lake ng depreciation ng korean cars...may kakilala kami na may starex gold and i think its worth 1.8 M then binenta nya, after 2 years di pa nabili ng 800k ...and marami na ring ngsabi sa amin na mga buy and sell car dealers ang ngsabi na lake ng depreciation ng korean cars....
    • 17Sphynx17 Aug 31 2012 @ 10:25am
      I think the high depreciation rate is due to the higher chance of major part problem after its warranty period. This includes turbo, suspension etc. Outside warranty, these items cost a hefty sum and take a long time to arrive in the country before it can be replaced, hence the prospective buyer assumes a higher risk against a Japanese brand or make.

      I am not saying the Korean brand is poor quality though, it just seems a bit more sensitive to our conditions (fuel quality, road quality, traffic condition etc).

      That being said, I am surprised about the statement of the Starex gold of 1.8m php sold for just 800k after 2 years. Maybe there was something wrong with the vehicle like a crash, flood damage or something of the same caliber. That's more than a 50% drop from SRP in just 2 years which is unfathomable in any vehicle. Perhaps there is an untold part of the story. A price of 1.3m php would be realistic as a low threshold price, but not 800k. 20% reduction on the first year and 10% for the 2nd year.
    • akiomacoy Sep 08 2012 @ 12:58am
      Dnt sell your car to a buy and sell dealer. Starex gold edition 2010 model 800k only?! Last time i check 4mos ago 1.2m is its last price.
  • wart_les Aug 31 2012 @ 10:23am
    Moderno na ang Crdi or the common rail direct injection ENGINE...I think foremost sa diesel engine kahit yung mga dati , ay yung FUEL QUALITY...dito naka batay yung Heat of combustion dapat mataas ang value nito pag sa analysis...
    Kung nawalan nang Hatak yung Normal na takbo o nag Low Power...malamang may problema sa FUEL system at isa na dito yung tinatawag na Fuel Starvation which happened kung CLOG o barado yung Filter..Pag malimit o maaga nagiging madumi yung FILTER sa binigay na pagpalit sa nakasaad sa manufacturer specs, ibig sabihin MADUMI yung pinag kukunan nang FUEL..
  • soobahru Aug 31 2012 @ 10:37am
    First, a car's catalytic converter is part of a car's exhaust system and no way forms part of the fuel passage going into the engine. Second, Ferman clearly stated that Hyundai's CRDi design is no different from its competitors. This is not an issue of design or quality. Comparing apples to apples, a car's reliability rests on the owner's care for it. Maintain it well and it rewards you. Neglect it, have it drink dirty fuel, ignore maintenance intervals...well, that's not anymore the car's fault but yours.
  • kevinliaooo Aug 31 2012 @ 10:55am
    We had a lot of problems with our Grand Starex's engine but it's on the transmission and the vgt. The clutch disc was replaced 4 times already since it kept on breaking down (which we have never experienced before in our other m/t diesel cars). With regards to the vgt --- there's this annoying whistling sound every time you step on the gas so the whole turbo had to be replaced with a new one. On the brightside, the engine has superb acceleration and pulling power...and it's fun to drive
    • 17Sphynx17 Aug 31 2012 @ 01:28pm
      Regarding the Turbo, do you often gun the engine hard? Just curious. We experienced the same with the Carens before and I think was caused by us gunning it a few times and not waiting for a "cooldown" after the trip before turning it off.

      As for the clutch, could it have been driving style on how the driver uses the clutch?
    • wart_les Aug 31 2012 @ 03:09pm
      The flywheel surface where the clutch disc is mounted is NOT even and wobbling.
      The hissing sound is attributed to improper securement of its AIR filter..meaning there happen to be leakages.
    • John Rigor Sep 01 2012 @ 02:04am
      How old is your Starex? We never had those kinds of problems with ours, and our car is around 2 and 1/2 years old. The only thing we had to replace was the brake pads (which wear out really quickly).
    • safariboi Sep 02 2012 @ 11:02am
      the whistling sound could be from the turbo which is naturally normal. It sounds like injecting too much air in a whistle or some what sounds like boiling water in kettle. We had it in our fortuner V and noticed too from starexs, grandias, vgt monteros, and santa fes.

      @17Sphynx!7 - You are right sir :] We need to wait atleast 3 mins or 5 after a long trip before turning it off and if we happened to nailed the pedal down the floor.
    • kevinliaooo Sep 03 2012 @ 09:17pm
      our grand starex's 2(?) years old. we replaced the vgt just yesterday. Turns out, the vanes were already wiggling. For the clutch problem, i think it's because we have 3 drivers, me and my dad also use it (different driving styles i guess so yeah... correct me if i'm wrong though) but then again, we haven't experienced this on our other m/t cars
      • John Rigor Sep 05 2012 @ 10:33pm
        Ouch. For the clutch disc, maybe someone who's driving the car often is a clutch driver, and this leads to the premature wear and tear of the disc. But I'm not really sure about this. Mine is an A/T and we had no problems with the transmission so far.

        As for the turbo, perhaps that engine is overworked. If that engine is being pushed to the limits often (red line, jack rabbit start, etc...) then there's a good chance of a turbo blowout. I know this problem is common to Accent CRDi's that are used as taxi, but it's unusual for private cars which are well-maintained.
      • John Rigor Sep 05 2012 @ 10:40pm
        Also, I think the VGT of the Starex needs a cool down period after a long trip or hard driving. After a long trip, I usually let my engine idle for some time to let the oil and the turbo cool down. I guess this extends the life of the turbo.
  • d.lake Aug 31 2012 @ 08:27pm
    hindi pa ba masasabi ngayon na same na ang reliability ng hyundai vs mitsu or toyota? we dont have hyundai so im asking
    • 17Sphynx17 Aug 31 2012 @ 08:40pm
      I think its not as big an issue in terms of reliability but parts availability is the question. Even if it is under warranty it takes quite a while for them to bring it in Manila. Parts will break in any brand but the Jap still have the supply issue nailed down while the local distributor of Hyundai and Kia still have a lag time between assessment of need and actually providing the part to fix it.

      That is my personally experience with the brand as well as a few friends. But I really wouldn't say that it is a sudden failure of the part in question. So in terms of reliability I think they are reliable.

      But once the part breaks and it is out of warranty, the parts tend to be a bit pricey as they come from Korea. I forgot how much they wanted to charge us for our turbo replacement, luckily it was under wrranty.

      But we sold that vehicle and no longer have Korean cars at the moment.
  • krosjoint Aug 31 2012 @ 08:37pm
    korean cars are just starting to build a good reputation when it comes to their engine system, maybe they are in the way to adapt for the rival motor company from other country............
  • mintygum Aug 31 2012 @ 09:53pm
    2013 hyundai genesis coupe ko 1 month palang pumalya kaagad ang engine. damn
    • GotToRead Aug 31 2012 @ 10:40pm
      sir ano pong problema na enocuter nyu sa GC nyu?
      • mintygum Aug 31 2012 @ 11:21pm
        nag misfire yung isang cylinder nya.
        • GotToRead Aug 31 2012 @ 11:45pm
          sir can you please elaborate more? I'll surely appreciate it. We're planning to buy a Hyundai Genesis Coupe 2013 so this information would be very useful for us.
        • mintygum Sep 01 2012 @ 12:08am
          new 2013 2.0 turbo yung kinuha ko. Performance wise, ok siya. Ang torque, throttle response, braking (brembo), handling, 8-spd auto transmission, fuel economy; sobrang ok talaga siya for a hyundai at nalagpasan ang expectations ko. Yun nga lang ang reliability.. hmmm.. Too early to conclude eh. siguro nga tama sila tungkol sa hyundai. ps. first hyundai ko to.
          • GotToRead Sep 01 2012 @ 12:55am
            ganito din plano naming kunin pero manual transmission....baka naman may problema sa spark plug, spark plug wire, ignition coil o kaya naman not enough air o fuel sa loob ng cylinder o may leak? Sir, pwede po bang mag private message dito sa TGP site for additional infos regarding to this. Kung wala po eh pwede po ba kayo sumali sa Tropang TopGear Ph na group kung di naman po ok eh dito na lang sir? Thank you sir.
            • mintygum Sep 21 2012 @ 02:59pm
              hello, naalala ko na gusto mo pala ng feedback re: genesis. anyways yung problem ay yung tune ng korean-spec GC. Sobrang rich ng factory tune sa korea para sa mga premium fuels natin dito (vpower racing/ blaze100). Sa sobrang rich ng tune kaya nagkaka cylinder misfire. So pina-tune yung genesis sa isang korean tuner para palitan ng leaner tune yung genesis. downside is premium fuel lang dapat ilagay sa bago kong tune pero mas efficient na at mas malakas ang hatak. leaner is meaner. Pero kung bibili ka ng local gc unit, narinig ko de-tuned daw ang 2.0turbo dito (250 hp only) para pwede kahit mga low end fuel natin. Yun lang. Goodluck sa GC mo.

    • marcha77 Sep 01 2012 @ 09:16am
      Gray market GC?
    • car_mac Sep 01 2012 @ 07:53pm
      kung nangyari sakin yan baka inuntog ko na lang ulo ko sa pader
  • John Rigor Sep 01 2012 @ 02:09am
    Regarding the particulate trap on diesel engines:

    I am no mechanic, but I think you need to gun (run at really high speeds) the engine at times in order for the particulates in the trap to burn properly. Also, short trips (trips less than 2km) increase the accumulation of particles in the trap, since the particulate trap doesn't get hot enough yet to burn those particle, so it'd be nice if you take it out of town once in a while. You shouldn't baby a diesel engine. Bring it to a highway and don't be afraid to run the engine at high rpms. :))
    • John Rigor Sep 01 2012 @ 02:13am
      Btw, we have a Grand Starex CRDi for 2 and 1/2 years now. No problems with the engine, and it still pulls like a freight train.

      Oh, and another thing, after a long trip, I usually let my engine idle for around 1 minute for the oil in the VGT and the engine to cool down. :) I know doing so prolongs the life of the engine.
  • hajabah Sep 01 2012 @ 07:18am
    My mother's office car is a Focus, and we had problems with the VGT. The sensors got clogged up after 12,000 kms. They replaced the turbo, and it's fine. So now whenever I drive it I find and empty stretch of road and floor it... just to clear out the system, kinda like blowing your nose. Hahaha! Point is it's not just the Koreans. Every diesel engine can go wrong from the fuel...

    ... and you'd be surprised with the fuel quality. Yes it depends on the service station but modern engines don't normally pump out black smoke with the fuel in, say, Europe. Especially not at 10,000 kms. The diesel we get here has a lot to do with it. DO NOT ruin the reputation of the Koreans. It's not their fault.
  • barry Sep 01 2012 @ 01:16pm
    my simple advice: follow your periodic maintenance schedule. an oh, by the way, always do the check-up so that it will not ruin the engine...
  • Cessar Sep 01 2012 @ 06:00pm
    Aside from Mr.Ferman,s view w/c is all true and informative,you must also consider that most if not all diesel engines now are CRDi and makes use of an electronic and more complicated but very efficient injection pump. One of he most causes of lack of power and stalling is injection pump failure and poor maintenance.
  • Andrew Marcella Sep 02 2012 @ 06:08pm
    change your mechanic......fuel going thru a catalytic converter?.......stufeeed!
  • fnatik Sep 03 2012 @ 10:15am
    I think hyundai engines are great. They are really powerful because of technological advancements esp d revgt crdi engines. The best way probably to avoid problems s regular pms, do not skimp on replaceable items like filter etc. Fuel up only on stations you trust, use higher quality diesel fuels like higher euro compliance. D shell vpower diesel n petron turbo diesel fuels have gud feedbaks fr customers. I use shell vpower diesel in our revgt with no problems. High performance eng need high perf oils though. Use d specified api rating for ur oil. Don't forget turbo cooldown after heavy load or hi speed drives. Many of us forget to turbo cooldown hence shortening d lifespan of the turbocharger. We have used jap n korean cars and believe me, both of them have their ups n downs.
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