Kia Sportage Problems: 8 Common Complaints (Explained)

Kia Sportage is a compact SUV that has been in production since 1993. It is currently in its fifth generation. The Sportage has been Kia’s best-selling vehicle in the United States since 2009.

The Sportage has generally been well-received by critics. Consumer Reports gave the first three generations high marks for reliability. However, the fourth generation has been plagued with problems.

Let’s read on for some of the most common Kia Sportage problems.

Before we dive in, check our article on how long the Kia Sportage models are expected to last.

Engine problems

There have been many different engine issues with the Kia Sportage.

Luckily, most of those problems have been minor ones. In some cases, the Sportage has suffered engine failure. The cause of this problem is typically traced back to a faulty engine sensor.

This can cause the engine to stall or shut down completely.

The company has issued a recall for this problem, but many owners have reported that the fix is only temporary.

Below is a breakdown of the major engine problems vehicle owners have experienced:

Issue Description Solution
Excessive Oil Consumption Common engine problem affecting all four-cylinder engines in the Sportage Regularly monitor oil levels and perform timely oil changes.
  Generalized issue across Kia SUV models  
Engine Knocking Results from improperly secured piston rods in the engine Address by increasing the frequency of engine oil changes.
     
Turbocharger Issues The turbocharger introduced in the third generation model year is prone to premature failure Watch for signs such as engine power loss and loud whining noise.
     
Cylinder Misfire Can be caused by factors like a dirty air filter or faulty spark plugs Prevent this by regularly changing the air filter and spark plugs.
    Consider monitoring and addressing any underlying issues affecting air and spark systems.
Fuel Pump Failure The fuel pump is responsible for delivering fuel from the tank to the engine. Common part failure Regularly inspect and maintain the fuel pump.
    Address any signs of stalling or complete shutdown promptly to prevent further damage.

Cooling system problems

The Sportage’s cooling system is made up of several different parts, including the radiator, water pump, and thermostat.

All of these parts can fail, but the most common problem is a leaking radiator.

If you notice your car is leaking coolant, take it to a mechanic right away. If the leak is not fixed, it could lead to your engine overheating.

Here’s a breakdown of possible causes and solutions for Kia Sportage owners:

Potential Causes of Engine Overheating Symptoms Possible Solutions
Cooling System Leak Rising engine temperature Inspect the radiator, hoses, water pump, head gasket, and thermostat housing for leaks.
  Visible coolant moisture under the vehicle Address any identified leaks promptly by repairing or replacing the affected components.
  Steam or hissing sounds from the engine bay Regularly check the cooling system for signs of leaks and perform routine maintenance to prevent issues.
Incorrect Coolant Engine temperature spikes Ensure the correct coolant type is used for your vehicle.
  Inconsistent or incorrect coolant-to-water ratio (e.g., not at the 50/50 ratio) Maintain the proper coolant-to-water ratio (usually 50/50) to prevent overheating.
    Flush the coolant system and replace it with the recommended coolant as needed.
Coolant Hose Blockage Engine overheating Inspect coolant hoses for blockages caused by dirt or debris.
  Uneven coolant flow Clean or replace coolant hoses as necessary to ensure proper coolant circulation.
  Poor engine performance due to inadequate cooling Regularly clean the cooling system to prevent blockages.

Transmission problems

Another common problem with the Kia Sportage is transmission failure. This can be a very costly repair, as it typically requires the entire six-speed automatic transmission to be replaced.

The cause of this problem is often due to a faulty torque converter.

The torque converter is responsible for converting the engine’s rotational force into hydraulic pressure.

This pressure is then used to move the transmission’s gears. If the torque converter fails, it can cause the transmission to slip or even fail completely.

It is best to speak with a skilled technician to correctly identify and fix these transmission issues.

Electrical problems

The Kia Sportage has been known to have warning light difficulties, notably with the check engine light, which may appear at random even when there is no evident problem with the car.

Minor electrical issues or damage to the rubber regulator are two possible explanations.

Furthermore, the Kia Sportage is prone to various other electrical issues, which are frequently caused by a malfunctioning battery or alternator.

If the battery, which is responsible for powering the vehicle’s electrical system, fails, it might cause flickering lights, dimming, radio cuts, and engine stalling.

Similarly, when the alternator, which is in charge of charging the battery, fails, it might cause similar problems.

It is advised that a trained technician evaluate the vehicle to correctly detect and remedy any faults.

In the meantime, here’s how you can troubleshoot this issue:

Causes Solutions
Warning Light Difficulties Regularly inspect and address any minor electrical problems promptly.
  Check for damage to the rubber regulator and repair or replace it as needed.
Battery  Monitor battery health and replace if signs of failure are detected (e.g., flickering lights, dimming, radio cuts, engine stalling).
Alternator Regularly check the alternator’s functionality and replace it if issues arise.

 

Suspension problems

The cause of any suspension problems is typically due to worn-out suspension components.

The shocks and struts are responsible for absorbing the impact of bumps and potholes. Over time, they can wear out and cause the vehicle to lose control.

Unless you’re a confident DIY-er, we suggest getting a qualified technician to have a look at any suspension problems.

Braking problems

Several different braking problems have been reported with the Sportage.

The most common one is premature wear of the brake pads. This can be caused by driving in stop-and-go traffic or towing a heavy load.

Another common braking problem is the Sportage’s brakes making a squealing noise. This is usually caused by the brake pads being worn down and needs to be replaced as soon as possible.

A faulty brake caliper can also cause problems.

The caliper is responsible for holding the brake pads in place. If it fails, it can cause the brakes not to work properly, putting you and your passengers in danger.

In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has issued a recall for 98,944 2023 Kia Sportage SUVs due to braking problems.

The Sportage incorporates a brake booster diaphragm that might become misplaced, resulting in an internal vacuum leak and a lack of power braking assist.

Interior Quality Issues

While the Sportage boasts excellent cargo space, some owners of the Kia Sportage report interior quality issues.

This can include everything from loose trim to faulty door handles.

The cause of this problem is typically due to poor craftsmanship. Kia has been known to use cheap materials in the construction of their vehicles.

The company has dealt with this problem by recalling and replacing faulty parts.

Recalls

Recalls are generally put into place as safety precautions. However, the number and diversity of the Sportage recalls may indicate that there is a larger problem with the vehicle.

Fire Alert

Throughout the years of 2009 to 2023, there is a fire alert across the models. This is very concerning.

What is the cause of the fire alert? Different parts may fail or rub against each other and this could cause an electrical short. This increases the risk of self-ignition putting your safety at risk.

The tow hitch and engine bay are common places where this occurs.

High-pressure fuel leak

Between the years of 2011 and 2018, the Kia Sportage had a recall on a high-pressure fuel leak that could cause loss of power or no start at all. This also increased the risk of fire and the risk of slippage for other road users.

There are up to 71,653 units affected by this issue.

We always recommend that if you have any concerns with your vehicle you take it to a trusted service station to be assessed by a qualified mechanic.

Pros and Cons

Let’s take a closer look at some of the pros and cons of the Kia Sportage:

Pros Cons
Affordability and Resale Value Poor Fuel Economy (mpg)
Abundance of Standard Features (i.e. rearview camera) Engine and Transmission Problems
Comfortable Ride and Sharp Handling Various Mechanical and Quality Issues
  Top 5 Problematic Cars in the Brand​​​​

 

Overall, the Kia Sportage is an affordable vehicle with decent resale value. It boasts an array of features, a comfortable ride, and sharp handling.

However, drivers have expressed concerns about poor fuel economy and reported various issues, including engine, transmission, electrical, suspension, and interior problems.

The Sportage’s safety rating and its position among the top 5 problematic cars in the brand are also factors to consider.

What Do The Reviews Say?

After giving the car four out of five stars on Edmunds.com, one customer said,

“Most of the amenities you find in LEXUS models are available with a few omissions, yet at saving about 20k on the sticker price balances the purchase. The touchscreen apps and navigation are far easier to maneuver in the KIA than others. Seating is comfortable but could be improved with a more sporty wrap around seat and it rides a little high in the cab for me.“

A review of the 2021 Sportage says,

“I was surprised to learn how comfortable this car is. I drive a lot and didn’t want bad gas mileage or a vehicle that hesitated. The seats are SO comfortable, the ride is quiet, bigger interior room, including the back seat. Stylish interior and easy controls with many options.“

Resale Price

A new Kia Sportage is about $23,000 on average. But the 2021 model is selling for closer to $26,000.]

The 2020 Sportage has an excellent resale value. After three years, it’s worth an estimated 58.5% of its original price. This is above the average for SUVs.

The 2019 Sportage has a good resale value. After three years, it’s worth an estimated 54.3% of its original price.

We have a comprehensive overview of depreciation across all Kia SUVs here.

Final Thoughts About The Kia Sportage

The Kia Sportage is a good SUV. It has a comfortable interior and a good safety rating. However, it has been known to have several common problems.

If you’re considering buying a Kia Sportage, be sure to do your research and be prepared for repairs at some point.

Whatever problems exist, many drivers clearly like the car due to its comfort level.

GO BACK: Problems for all Kia models.

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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.