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Hyundai Excel Problems

Are you having problems with your Hyundai Excel? Let our team of motoring experts keep you up to date with all of the latest Hyundai Excel issues & faults. We have gathered all of the most frequently asked questions and problems relating to the Hyundai Excel in one spot to help you decide if it's a smart buy.

Can my Hyundai Excel take E10 fuel?

No. Hyundai only recommends E10 for cars built after October 2003.

Why Australia is set for record vehicle recalls in 2014 | comment
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Used Hyundai Excel review: 1994-2000

The Hyundai Excel was a huge seller in Australia in the mid-to-late 1990s. These days it’s common to see small cars at the head of the sales race but that was a rare occurrence back then. Yet the Excel was frequently in the top three in the overall sales race, hitting the first position on one big occasion. Obviously there is now a huge number on the used-car scene.

A combination of a spacious interior, good looks and reasonable performance certainly helped push the Excel to the top, but to be honest its low price was the main reason for the sales success. A low price that was further enhanced by Hyundai's famous “driveaway no more to pay” system. Nowadays ‘driveaway’ is very much part of the automotive vocabulary but it was a revelation in the late 1990s and Hyundai led the way.

Early Hyundais were on the rough and ready side, but build quality improved substantially over the years the Excel was on the Australian market. The later Excels have body fit and paint finish that's almost to Japanese standards. However, interior fit and finish can be on the rough side at times so have a close look at the cabin of the car you’re considering.

The automatic is a relatively expensive option and reduces the engine's performance

Hyundai Excel is offered in three-door and five-door hatch bodies as well as a four-door sedan. The three-door hatches were the price leaders so are far and away the most common. These are fairly sparse in their standard gear, but many will have air conditioning as it was frequently included in special deals.

Check the car to see if it meets your standards as far as upholstery and seat comfort are concerned. Excels were never particularly good in this respect even when new and later model competitors, including Hyundai's own Accent, provide more refinement and comfort.

Excel is simple to drive and park when power steering is fitted but can be hard to operate in tight parking situations if it’s not. Check it for yourself if you are not sure by driving at very slow speeds while moving the steering wheel all the way from one lock to another.

Handling is good, with a more sprightly feel than is normal in similar Japanese cars. A good set of tyres can further improve the Excel and is worth considering if you class yourself as a driving enthusiast.

Talking about enthusiasts, beware of the Excel that has been fitted with an outrageous body kit, huge exhaust tailpipe, extrovert instruments and other over-the-top embellishments.

The automatic is a relatively expensive option and reduces the engine's performance

Engine capacity in the Excel is 1.5 litres. It used a single overhead camshaft allied to fuel injection until January 1998 when a twin-cam unit of the same size was installed. The latter is naturally livelier, but there's nothing wrong with the older single-cam engine.

Five-speed manual and four-speed automatic transmission are offered in all models being looked at in this feature. The five-speed can be a bit sloppy in its action, which takes the edge off an otherwise pleasant car.

The automatic is a relatively expensive option and reduces the engine’s performance, as well as increasing petrol usage, so is probably best left to those who do a lot of suburban driving.

The Excel model range begins with the price leading Excel Sprint, then goes up through GX and LX to the topline Excel GLX. The Sprint is fairly basic to keep its price down so the rest of the range appears relatively expensive in comparison.

Spare parts are generally reasonably priced and there are plenty of Hyundai dealers in Australia. As the car is ageing some dealers may be running out of spare parts but there are plenty of aftermarket recyclers (aka wreckers) with good stocks of bits. It may be worth enquiring about spares in your local region before becoming too involved with the purchase decision.

While the Accent hasn't enjoyed the runaway success of its predecessor it is better built and more refined

Most good amateur mechanics can do their own repairs, but don't tackle safety items unless you know what you are doing. As always, it’s smart to have a workshop manual on hand before pulling the car apart.

Insurance costs are normally low, though they can be expensive in relation to the price of the car if you are a young driver getting into your first car and haven't had time to build up a no-claims history.

Shop around before becoming seriously involved in the car, and make sure you understand what you are getting in the way of coverage.

Excel was replaced by the Hyundai Accent in June 2000. While the Accent hasn’t enjoyed the runaway success of its predecessor it is better built and more refined, so is well worth considering if you can raise the extra money.


These cars are getting on in years so don’t expect perfection, on the other hand expensive repairs can ruin your bank balance so make sure to get a quote for all problems.

Make a thorough inspection for crash repairs. Check for paint that doesn’t match, paint overspray, ripples in the body panels and for roughly-repaired out-of-sight areas. Rust proofing appears good and the only cars we have seen with problems are those that haven't been properly repaired after a crash.

Check the conditions of the seats, trim, plastic parts and the operation of all the controls. During your test drive listen for squeaks or rattles from around the car.

We have heard of problems with high oil consumption, possibly due to poor maintenance. Listen for noises from the top end of the motor at idle and under hard acceleration.

Be wary of an engine which hesitates at any time, especially when accelerating anything more than moderately. Watch for smoke from the exhaust when the engine is worked hard.

Gearchanges tend to be on the sloppy side at times, but if you get one which seems too bad, and/or is reluctant to go into gear have an expert look it over. Listen and feel for a vibration from the power-steering pump.


The more popular the car the more there are on the used scene. Use this to your advantage by shopping around for the best of them.

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Ask Smithy Xtra Hyundai Excel brake pads

On a small car like that I would expect the pads to last 40,000-50,000 km, so I wouldn’t expect the pads to be worn out yet. It could be that the disc rotors themselves need to be replaced. If the pedal is going too far down and feels like it’s not stopping the car very well I would get the brakes bled.

Excel gear lever problems

It sounds like a problem with the gearshift itself, and may have been caused by wear. If that's the case it should be a reasonably simple, inexpensive repair.

Ask Smithy Xtra 'Check engine' light in Excel

You need to get it checked by a mechanic with diagnostic equipment, particularly as it will become your daughter’s car and you don’t want it breaking down. It’s possibly the engine management computer that’s playing up, but you won’t know until you have it checked.

Ask Smithy Xtra Ethanol in Berlina or Excel

You could use E10 ethanol blend fuel in both of your cars; you could also use regular 91 in them if you wanted.

Clutch gone in Hyundai Elantra

Back in the old days when car brakes were dodgy it was advisable downshift through the gearbox to assist the brakes in slowing car, but today's bakes are more than capable of slowing the car without using the gearbox. Every shift wears the clutch a little more; so eliminating shifts will increase the life of the clutch.

Used Hyundai Excel review: 1994-2000

Korean cars still have the stigma of being cheap, poorly built throwaway cars, and while that might have once been the case it would be wrong to dismiss Seoul-sourced cars today. It’s important to look at each brand individually as each is quite different in terms of build quality and reliability in service, so consider each brand carefully and ask your own mechanic for their experience with them.

Hyundai was the first Korean brand to land here and the early cars were pretty poorly built. They were clearly in the throw away category, but to pigeon hole them that way today would be doing them, and yourself, a disservice.

The model that changed the perception of Hyundai was the X3 Excel that was launched here in 1994. The model that preceded the X3 was a car that warranted caution when buying, but In one fell swoop Hyundai threw off the disposable tag and become a serious auto offering.

The X3 Excel was an all-new small car that offered a roomy interior with commendable performance and handling, at a very affordable price. In no time at all it became one of the top selling cars in the country, giving the Koreans in general, and Hyundai in particular, an image boost.

The Excel’s swoopy lines and endless curves quickly attracted a following with young drivers. The interior, while praised for its roominess and comfort, was canned for being bland and boring with a sea of dark and sombre trim colours.

The power initially was from a single overhead camshaft, 12-valve, fuel-injected 1.5-litre four-cylinder engine punching out 65 kW. There was a choice of a five-speed manual gearbox or four-speed auto transmission.

With the standard five-speed manual gearbox, the three-door hatch was quite zippy, boasting a respectable time of 12.2 seconds to reach 100km/h from a standstill.

Excel buyers had the choice of three body styles, a three-door hatch, five-door hatch and four-door sedan.

The Sprint three-door hatch was the entry level, price leading model, boasting body coloured bumpers, intermittent wipers and a radio-cassette sound system with two speakers as standard.

The GX three-door, along with the LX five-door hatch and four-door sedan, added power steering, rear spoiler and a tachometer.

The top model in the range was the GLX which came in five-door hatch and four-door body styles, and boasted an impressive list of features, including body coloured bumpers, central locking, power mirrors, power antenna, power front windows, power steering, radio cassette with four speakers, and a tachometer. Air-conditioning and a driver’s airbag were extra cost options.

Performance was boosted with a facelifted model in 1998 and the introduction of a 16-valve engine, identified by the “Twin Cam” badge on the tail. With the new engine under the bonnet the Excel’s 0-100km/h time was cut to 9.8 seconds.

The Excel’s service history is dominated by a recall in 1997 when it was found that a number of cars had problems with the welds attaching the chassis rails to the floor pan. Problem cars could be identified by a creaking noise in the body as the car went over bumps. Hyundai checked all cars and riveted the rails to the floor pan to fix the problem.

While the recall cast a shadow over the Excel’s reputation for a while, mechanics report that it is generally a robust and reliable car.

They say that the power train is quite durable, with few reports of anything untoward with the engine or gearbox.

The cam-timing belt requires replacement every 90,000km but it’s not a big, or expensive, job. Even if it is neglected and the belt eventually breaks the consequences are not catastrophic as the engine is a free-spinning design so there’s no chance of valves tangling with pistons and other internal components. The worst that can happen is that you’ll be stranded on the roadside waiting for assistance.

As for all cars check for a verifiable service record, looking for regular oil and fluid changes, and check the oil by removing the oil filler cap and checking for an accumulation of sludge which would indicate the oil hasn’t been regularly replaced.

Check the body for dents and scrapes, and faded paint on bumpers and exterior rear view mirrors on cars delivered before the 1998 facelift.

The interior, criticised for its bland colours and plain trim when new, stands up well in service. Few problems are reported with warped or cracked plastic trim components after nine years under the hot sun.

The most frustrating problem is with the electrics, which can be unreliable. It seems the Koreans have discovered the secret to the British electrical dramas and taken them back to Seoul. The problems are usually traced back to bad connections.

Because the car was cheap and cheerful young and inexperienced drivers often bought them, and owners who couldn’t always afford to keep them properly maintained, so look for signs of abuse and lack of attention.

• swoopy styling

• roomy and comfortable interior

• reliable power train

• dodgy electrics

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Hyundai hunting

THE price is about right for a car of that mileage and registration, which makes it a pretty good buy. The Excel is a good little car with few problems. The engine and gearbox are generally solid and reliable.

Disclaimer: You acknowledge and agree that all answers are provided as a general guide only and should not be relied upon as bespoke advice. Carsguide is not liable for the accuracy of any information provided in the answers.
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