Kia Sportage Problems: 12 Common Complaints (Explained)

Kia Sportage is a compact SUV that has been in production since 1993. It is currently in its fourth 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.

Kia Sportage Features

The first generation Sportage was available as a four-door sedan or a five-door wagon.

The second generation saw the introduction of the two-door convertible.

The third generation was only available as a four-door SUV. The fourth and current generation is available in both four-door and two-door configurations.

All Sportage models come standard with front-wheel drive. All-wheel drive is available as an option on all but the base model.

The Sportage is powered by a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine. This engine produces 181 horsepower and 175 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed automatic transmission is standard.

The Kia Sportage is part of the impressive Kia SUV lineup.

Problems With Kia Sportage

Let’s start with the most severe.

Concerning the engine.

1) 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.

#1 Excession oil consumption

This is one of the most common engine problems with the Sportage. It’s an issue that affects all four-cylinder engines, not just Kia’s.

However, it tends to be a more general problem across the Kia SUV models.

Engine knocking

Another common problem with the Sportage’s engine is engine knocking. This is a result of the engine’s piston rods not being properly secured.

A solution to this problem is to have the engine’s oil changed more frequently.

#2 Turbocharger issues

The turbocharger is a relatively new addition to the Sportage.

It was first introduced in the third generation. Unfortunately, it has been known to fail prematurely.

Turbocharger issues will be obvious when they occur, as the engine will lose power and make a loud whining noise.

#3 Cylinder misfire

A cylinder misfire can be caused by a number of things, including a dirty air filter or bad spark plugs.

Try to prevent this by regularly changing your air filter and spark plugs. You should also check out the best and worst Kia Sportage years.

#4 Fuel pump failure

The fuel pump is responsible for delivering fuel from the tank to the engine. It’s an important part of the engine, and it’s one of the most common parts to fail.

Fuel pump failure will cause the engine to stall or shut down completely.

2) 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.

3) 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 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.

4) Electrical problems

The Kia Sportage has also been known to have electrical problems.

This is typically due to a faulty battery or alternator.

The battery is responsible for providing power to the vehicle’s electrical system. If it fails, it can cause the lights to flicker or dim, the radio to cut out, and the engine to stall. The alternator is responsible for charging the battery.

If it fails, it can cause all of the same problems as a faulty battery.

5) Suspension problems

Another problem that has been reported by owners of the Kia Sportage is suspension failure. It can cause the vehicle to lose control.

This is most likely because the Sportage is a body-on-frame SUV.

Body-on-frame construction is less common these days, as most automakers have switched to unibody construction.

This type of construction is lighter and more rigid, but it’s also more susceptible to suspension failure.

The cause of this problem 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.

6) 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 fixed 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 to not work properly.

7) Interior Quality Issues

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 in the past by recalling and replacing faulty parts.

8) Exterior Quality Issues

Another common problem with the Kia Sportage is exterior quality issues.

This can include everything from faded paint to cracked headlights.

The cause of this problem is typically due to poor craftsmanship. You can deal with such issues by taking your vehicle to a reputable body shop.

Kia Sportage Safety Rating

The Kia Sportage has a good safety rating.

It received four out of five stars from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for frontal impact crash tests and five out of five stars for side impact crash tests.

However, the Sportage has been recalled for safety issues at times.

This includes problems with the airbags, brakes, and engine.

Pros and Cons


So what do drivers like about the Kia Sportage? The Sportage is a good value car. It’s one of the most affordable SUVs on the market with a decent resale value.

This car also has a lot of features. It comes standard with a rearview camera, Bluetooth, and USB ports.

Many drivers enjoy a comfortable ride. It soaks up bumps and potholes with ease. People also like the Sportage’s sharp handling.


But the Sportage isn’t perfect. Some drivers have complained about its poor fuel economy. The EPA estimates that it gets just 21 mpg in the city and 29 mpg on the highway.

Other drivers have reported problems with the car’s engine and transmission.

These are both very expensive repairs.

Here is a brief summary of the reported issues with the Kia Sportage:

  • Engine problems
  • Transmission problems
  • Electrical problems
  • Suspension problems
  • Interior quality issues
  • Exterior quality issues
  • Kia Sportage safety rating
  • Poor fuel economy
  • The Sportage is one of the top 5 problematic cars in the brand

What Do The Reviews Say?

After giving the car four out of five stars on, 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.

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

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

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.

These include:

  • engine failure,
  • transmission failure,
  • electrical problems,
  • suspension problems,
  • and exterior quality issues.

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.