Kia SUV Problems: 19 Most-Common Issues (Explained)

If you’re interested in purchasing a KIA SUV, you’ll want to know the most common problems and issues.

Maybe should start by educating yourself on the full SUV lineup from Kia, they have quite an impressive fleet of SUVs now.

The following are 19 reported problems with KIA SUVs and some additional information on those issues.

We’ve looked at general problems across Kia cars before and not its time to look specifically at the SUV models.

Problems With Engine Noise

Engine noise was a problem for some KIA Soul owners, and this problem most commonly appeared in the 2012-2016 models and the 2020 versions. You can also read up on other common Kia Soul problems here.

Engine noise is a broad term that describes various situations, from minor issues to more severe ones.

Some of the most prevalent causes of engine noise include:

#1 Low Oil

Low oil levels are a frequent cause of strange engine noises. Thus, you might hear something that sounds like grinding, clicking, or something undefined.

Checking the oil is a quick process that might lead you to a simple solution.

Remember, the new Kia EV6 is fully electric and does not have oil filters and engine oil. Check here what liquids we find in fully electric cars.

#2 Exhaust Leaks

Exhaust leaks from muffler holes and other issues often cause the engine to sound much louder than it is.

Therefore, you will need to take a quick look underneath your vehicle to pinpoint exhaust system problems.

#3 Bad Spark Plugs

Worn and non-suitable spark plugs are common causes of strange engine noises. 

They can also cause vibrations, poor fuel economy, stalling, and other unfortunate symptoms.

A spark plug issue usually reveals itself during a visual inspection.

#4 Improper Timing

If the timing is off in your vehicle, you will likely experience some concerning engine noises.

Unfortunately, a timing adjustment will require you to visit a capable automotive mechanic.

#5 Pulley Issues

A broken accessory pulley or bad accessory belt often causes engine noises because of the vibrations.

These are not the only issues that cause engine noise. They are only a few problems out of many.

The dealership can use diagnostic tools to pinpoint the issue much faster than you can as a vehicle owner.

6. Noisy AC Compressor

A noisy AC compressor is a common complaint that many KIA Sorento owners had. This issue was most apparent in the 2006, 2012-2014, and 2016 models. 

Numerous issues can cause an air compressor to make undesirable noises.

The part itself can have loose mounting, or you could have a problem with a belt or pulley.

Some noises require prompt attention and should not be cast aside to solve them in the future. These noises include banging, bubbling, rattling, and clicking. Such sounds warrant a quick visit to the closest automotive care center.

7. Faulty Ignition Coils

Bad ignition coils seemed to be a common issue in certain models of the Sorento. Ignition coils are a crucial part of a vehicle’s startup process.

Thus, faulty coils can cause a car to fail to start or interfere with its overall functionality.

Some of the symptoms of bad ignition coils include engine vibrations, hard starts, misfires, stalling, and poor fuel economy. 

Rectifying these problems could be a simple matter of having someone change the ignition coils. However, the work is most suitable for an experienced mechanic, as the coils need to go into their precise spots.

Read also: Demographics of Kia buyers.

8. Repetitive Headlight Bulb Burnout

KIA Sorento owners reported repetitive headlight bulb burnout in their vehicles.

Though headlight burnout isn’t a major issue, it can cause severe problems and can hinder someone from being able to operate their vehicle at nighttime.

The reason behind repetitive headlight bulb burnout situations often includes issues such as improper wiring, electrical problems, and water infiltrating the system. The issues can also occur if the headlights aren’t fitted into their spots properly.

This problem might require some mechanical adjustments, but it can be resolved easily.

The Niro models are PHEV (Plugin-Hybrid-Electric-Vehicles) so they have both a combustion-engine as well as an electric motor. So, they can also experience oil leaks.

Problems With Vibration in the Steering Wheel

The KIA Telluride has received a few complaints of its own.

We already dived into some problems specific to the Kia Telluride.

The model has only been on the market since 2019.

Thus, it’s still a relatively new vehicle. Vehicle owners stated that the vibrations often occurred when going faster than 60 miles per hour.

Steering wheel vibration can have a few causes, some of which are much more alarming than others.

These are some common causes of that issue:

#9 Vacuum Leaks

Simple vacuum leaks can cause the engine operation to be off enough for a dramatic vibrational issue.

The good news is that a quick diagnostic test can often pinpoint such matters.

#10 Unbalanced Tires

Unbalanced tires can cause quite a ruckus on the bottom of a vehicle.

You may want to take your car to an adept mechanic and have that person balance your tires if you recently had them changed or serviced. The problem could be a balancing issue.

#11 Bad Wheel Bearings

Defective wheel bearings can be the cause of a vibrational issue.

A seasoned mechanic can remove the wheels and locate such a problem if it’s apparent.

#12 Bad Motor Mounts

Motor mounts can also wear and cause the engine to shift out of place. This problem is most noticeable at idle and when switching gears. The vehicle might rumble into gear or make worse noises when shifting.

You might also notice a sluggish acceleration.

#13 Transmission Problems

Transmission issues are the most troublesome causes of vibrational problems, as they indicate an internal transmission issue.

A more noticeable problem at high speeds has a greater tendency to be related to the automobile’s transmission.

14. Transmission Goes Into Reverse

The 2022 KIA Seltos model has a unique issue with the transmission going into reverse on its own.

We have more here on the problems with Kia Seltos.

Those who complained about the problems said they had to put the car in park and restart it to restore normal functionality.

The permanent fix of such an issue may require a vehicle owner to visit a dealership, and a transmission specialist may need to service the vehicle.

15. Weak Crankshaft Pulley Bolts

Bad crankshaft pulley bolts were a common issue in the KIA Sorento.

We have more here on the problems across the Kia Sorento models.

Such a problem is disturbing because it can cause a wealth of issues, such as engine vibrations, alternator breakages, irregular idling, and the like.

16. Faulty Timing Chain

Faulty and glitchy timing chains were another common Sorento issue. Off timing can cause an array of problems, from poor fuel economy to loss of power and failed starts. Repairing this issue requires a little bit of engine disassembly, but it’s not the most expensive problem one may need to solve.

If the manufacturer has a recall on the problem, then a vehicle owner will not have to pay anything to have the issue replaced.

Checking recalls is fairly quick and can give you the answers you need if you own one of these vehicles and need to know the issue’s origin.

Problems With Engine Shuts Down While Driving

KIA Sportage owners reported having problems with the engine shutting down while operating the vehicle.

Check also our list of reported issues with the Kia Sportage models.

This issue is quite concerning because it can cause traffic issues.

The following are some elements that might cause an engine to shut down while someone is driving it:

#17 Lack of Fuel

This cause may sound like an obvious reason for a vehicle’s engine to shut down, but many people overlook it. Low or no fuel can cause this issue quickly.

Not having enough fuel in the car can also mean problems with the fuel pump and fuel filter as well.

#18 No Engine-To-Chassis Ground

The engine must be grounded to the chassis to function well.

If it loses this ground, it could shut down unexpectedly, leaving the driver confused and sitting on the side of the road.

#19 Faulty Alternator

A faulty alternator is very likely to cause a vehicle to shut down while the driver operates it. Usually, the alternator charges the battery as the driver operates the car.

A malfunctioning alternator will not charge the battery, and the battery will drain at a rapid speed.

A drained battery will result in a vehicle shutting down while the driver operates it.

20. Transmission Vibrates and Skips

Some models, like the 2011 Sorento, had issues with their transmission. One of the most vastly seen transmission issues was a jerking response when shifting into another gear. These models are also known to vibrate while driving.

Many things can cause that to happen, including manufacturer defects.

Other causes of the above-mentioned problem include insufficient amount of transmission fluid, faulty sensors, vacuum modulator valve problems, and other issues.

Checking the transmission fluid is a typical first step because it’s easy to do.

If you don’t find any issues with that, you can move on to scheduling an appointment with a mechanic who can run tests on your car.

General Pros and Cons of KIA SUVs

Here’s what customers liked the most and the least about the KIA SUV vehicles they owned:



  • Engine noise
  • Not a fantastic interior
  • Uncomfortable second-row seats

What Do the Reviews Say?

“This model KIA is way better than I expected. The amount of tech and safety features is surprisingly abundant. There’s also a lot more interior room than I expected to get from it.”


“If you invest in the higher-level trims, you will be pleased with this vehicle even after owning a BMW.”


Resale Prices

Here is an example of the current retail price and the resale price of one of KIA’s most popular SUV models.

2023 KIA Sportage retail price – $25,990

1 Year Old > 100,000 Miles $23,162
2 Years Old > 100,000 Miles $22,611
3 Years Old > 100,000 Miles $22,092
4 Years Old > 100,000 Miles $21,320
5 Years Old > 100,000 Miles $18,359

As you can see, KIA SUVs do hold their value quite well.

Thus, you may want to invest in one of these fantastic models and take care of it so that you can get an amazing price when it comes time to sell it.

You now know some common issues KIA SUV models have had.

You can use the information to stay on top of your future shopping choices and care for your vehicle more effectively.


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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.