Kia Cadenza Problems: 7 Common Issues (Explained)

The Kia Cadenza is a comfortable and stylish sedan with plenty of room and lots of features.

It doesn’t have the most exciting driving performance out there, but it outperforms its rivals by offering a comfortable interior with a smooth ride, and lots of bells and whistles.

There have been some issues with the Kia Cadenza, including interior, engine, and wiring issues.

Here are some of the most common problems reported by Kia Cadenza owners:

Before we dive in, make sure you’ve read our article about how long the Kia Cadenza lasts.

Sunroof Issues

Although Kia has not publicly acknowledged this phenomenon, there are cases online of sunroofs in Kia Cadenzas spontaneously cracking.

Owners have reported that while driving, the sunroof shatters. They are certain that the sunroof wasn’t struck by an object or otherwise damaged.

This creates a loud noise that startles the driver and showers the front seats in broken glass.

This is still a relatively rare occurrence and doesn’t happen to most Kia Cadenza owners. However, it has happened in several cases.

There is no information available on what might cause the sunroof to crack. Some owners who had this issue claim that before the incident the sunroof was beginning to curve outward due to the design and the pressure exerted on it.

Knocking at Start-Up

In some Kia Cadenzas (especially the 2014 model) there have been issues with engine noise – particularly a knocking sound at start-up.

This was the #2 complaint on forums etc. occurring after an average of only 7,000 miles. There is no explanation or solution for this problem at the moment, and when owners brought their Kia Cadenza’s to the dealership they weren’t able to replicate the problem.

Generally, engine knock is caused by an improper fuel/air ratio.

Modern cars, like the Kia Cadenza, use computers to optimize engine performance and make sure these ratios are correct.

If you hear an engine knock, it is possible that you need to repair or replace internal engine sensors – like the oxygen sensor and the mass airflow sensor. You might also want to look at fuel injectors and the fuel pump.

Poor Acceleration

Some Kia Cadenza owners have reported sluggish acceleration.

There are several possible causes for this, ranging from clogged air filters to worn spark plugs and faulty catalytic converters.

You can use the Kia Cadenza’s Onboard-diagnostic device to help identify any problems with sensors and electronics.

If the sensors and computers are working properly, the fix is likely to be mechanical and requires a whole new round of diagnostics. You can also learn about the best and worst Kia Cadenza years.

No Daytime Running Lights

Most modern cars come equipped with daytime running lights – headlights that are on during the day. The Kia Cadenza claims to have daytime running lights, but many owners were disappointed to discover that these are actually high-powered LED “position lights.”

There is an active debate about whether this is a problem at all.

Some experts believe that high-powered position lights are safe and effective to use as daytime running lights.

If daytime running lights are important to you, just be aware that the Kia Cadenza doesn’t offer the same daytime external lighting power that some comparable vehicles do.

Loose Steering Wheel

The #1 worst issue on was a loose steering wheel (particularly in the 2014 model) that made it hard to hold the road.

Owners report that as early as 2000 miles the steering wheel became less responsive and the car began to wander out of the lane unless constantly corrected.

This problem occurs at both low and high speeds.

Dealerships have not been able to isolate the exact source of this problem, and the owners who reported these issues claim they were told the car is “functioning as designed” and sent home without repairs.

Although this is rated as a serious problem, there haven’t been any cases in which steerage was lost or the driving situation became dangerous. Overcompensating for loose steering is annoying and the problem doesn’t seem to worsen or lead to complete failures.

Faulty Multi-Function Switch Assembly

Issues with exterior lighting have been reported with the Kia Cadenza, and several owners have traced these problems back to a faulty multi-function switch assembly.

One Kia Cadenza owner reported that their headlights started to flicker while they were driving home at night.

A few minutes later, the headlights failed. They had to drive home slowly, using their hazard lights, and got a ticket in the process.

When they took their Cadenza to the dealership, they discovered that the problem wasn’t from faulty wiring as they had expected.

Instead, the issue was with the multi-function switch assembly. It wasn’t telling the headlights to turn on.

There was a similar issue with the Kia k900 that led to a recall. Some owners have speculated that the same problem exists with the Kia Cadenza, even though it has not led to an official recall.

Engine Stalling

Engine issues and stalls are a possibility with any vehicle, but Kia Cadenza owners have reported stalls on the freeway and in other dangerous driving conditions.

One Kia Cadenza owner reported that their brand new, 2018 model with only 11 miles on it started stalling repeatedly, both while in motion and while sitting idle.

The dealership determined that the issue was a malfunctioning crank sensor, but the stalling recurred after the crank sensor was replaced.

There are so many issues that could potentially cause engine stalls that it is difficult to diagnose any particular design or structural problem with the Kia Cadenza.

However, some users have had issues with unexpected stalls – both while the car is parked and while driving.

General Pros and Cons for the Kia Cadenza

The Kia Cadenza is a great sedan with some excellent features.

Here are some of the things that Kia Cadenza owners boast about and appreciate most:

1. A Smooth Ride

The Kia Cadenza glides across the pavement.

This car is built for maximum comfort and is almost silent at high speeds on the highway. While idling, it can be so quiet that you might wonder if the engine is running.

You can hear the engine at low speeds and there is always some wind and tire noise, but you’ll never have to raise your voice to be heard in the comfortable and quiet cabin.

2. Great Safety Features

A great suite of driver safety features is included as standard in the Kia Cadenza.

Adaptive cruise control, a 360-degree parking camera, forward collision warning, automatic emergency pedestrian detection with braking, rear cross-traffic warning, lane-keeping assistance, and blind-spot warning come standard in the 2020 model.

These features make the Kia Cadenza an easier and safer car to drive.

3. Lots of Legroom

Compared to some of its rivals, the Kia Cadenza offers a lot of legroom, especially in the roomy backseats.

If you are worried about feeling cramped, the Kia Cadenza includes plenty of space for your arms and legs. You’ll never feel boxed in with a cabin this spacious.

This is the kind of car where you can stretch out.

There is so much extra space that even when the front seats are pushed back for the Cadenza’s easy-entry feature, they won’t hit the knees of the passengers in the back seat.

4. Affordable Luxury

The Kia Cadenza feels like a high-end sedan and offers the comfort of one without the driving performance.

At this price point, it is a great value and offers a smooth, comfortable driving experience that mirrors much more expensive vehicles.

It’s an affordable luxury sedan.

It looks great inside and out, offers best-in-the-industry driver convenience and safety features, and delivers a smooth and quiet ride.

There are also some cons to consider.

Here are some of the drawbacks to owning a Kia Cadenza:

  • The Kia Cadenza has slower acceleration and worse handling than some of its rivals.
  • There could be better headroom for people taller than 6 feet.
  • The trunk is small, and the rear seats don’t fold down.

What Do the Reviews Say?

“The car is roomy and quiet, with easy-to-use controls. Ride and handling are nothing special but pleasant enough.”

“The 2018 Kia Cadenza places a priority on space and comfort rather than driving engagement, allowing it to soothe instead of excite. It’s long on value, too, and comes equipped with plenty of luxury and driver assistance features.”

What’s the Resale Value of the Kia Cadenza?

Resale Values for the Kia Cadenza
Year Mileage (miles) Price (USD)
2014 60,496 $14,491
2015 73,885 $16,900
2017 28,677 $25,900
2018 29,138 $25,400
2019 11,832 $28,499
2020 24,026 $30,995

Final Thoughts

The Kia Cadenza is a perfect vehicle for drivers who want to drive a luxury car, but don’t care about performance.

The acceleration and handling are nothing to write home about, but the Cadenza includes a suite of driver convenience and safety features that make you feel like you’re driving a more expensive car – not to mention the spacious and beautiful interior.

There have been problems with the Kia Cadenza, including some scary issues like sunroofs exploding and exterior lighting and engine failures while driving.

The majority of the mechanical and technological issues with the Kia Cadenza come from 2 model years: 2014 and 2015.

The models before and after this are more reliable, and owners of these models report fewer issues.

If you are looking for a car that feels expensive to drive without paying a high price, and you’re okay with avoiding the 2014 and 2015 models, the Kia Cadenza is a great choice.

GO BACK: Problems for all Kia models.

Sources | Kia Cadenza | Kia Cadenza

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ⓘ  The information in this article is based on data from National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recall reports, consumer complaints submitted to the NHTSA, reliability ratings from J.D. Power, auto review and rating sites such as Edmunds, specialist forums, etc. We analyzed this data to provide insights into the best and worst years for these vehicle models.