2017 Kia Forte Top Complaints and Problems – Is Your Car A Lemon?

Fuel system, electrical and engine issues among the top complaints received by the NHTSA from vehicle owners

Compact cars aren’t as popular as they once were, but they haven’t lost their appeal with some consumers. When it comes to choosing the right model, many people go for the lowest price. With the 2017 Kia Forte, the automaker claims that owners don’t sacrifice quality to get the bargain. Even the new models are hailed as a “power player.” Yet, the drivers have spoken and this model is riddled with issues. It features a defective electrical system, a poor fuel system and a malfunctioning engine that require attention.

Click on other model year to view more problems: 2019

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Engine

Maybe it’s labeled the “power player” because the engine is so reliable. That comment might have made some owners chuckle because it’s clear that the engine is just as defective as the rest of the car.

Just look at this comment left on Edmunds. “I bought this P.O.S Forte on May 27 2017 at first it was a good car then six months into owning it the car began to act funny I took it to the dealer they did nothing so a few months later it just went downhill.  Some days it wouldn’t accelerate good and it was not cranking right.  Then on June 17 2018 the engine light came on and flashed six times which is a sign that something wasn’t good.  I took it to the dealer and they thought it was the ignition coils they changed them and I left the lot.  An hour later the engine light came back on and I took it back wound up being the whole engine was useless.  The cylinder misfire is common knowledge to KIA but they won’t recall the car hopefully I will be getting rid of this car soon.  I will never buy a Kia again.”

It’s evident that the engineers didn’t do a good job with the Forte. Even Service Bulletin #PS067_R1 tells dealers that some engines might not have the proper steel sealing balls in place. The automaker asks dealers to inspect the cylinder heads to see if they are present. How crazy is that? This power player doesn’t even have all the required parts to operate correctly.

Here are some actual complaints logged with the NHTSA about the 2017 Kia Forte Engine Problems:

2017 KIA FORTE I BUY THIS CAR BRAND NEW BACK IN DECEMBER 22, 2017 AND LAST MONTH THE CAR START TO SHAKE WHILE I’M DRIVING THEN IT START TO JERK AS IF ITS GETTING READY TO TURN OFF. 3 DAYS A GO THE CHECK ENGINE LIGHT CAME ON I ONLY DRIVE THIS CAR TO WORK CHURCH NO LONG DISTANCE TRIPS OR ANYTHING I HAVE BEEN GETTING MY OIL CHANGE AND EVERYTHING THAT TO HELP WITH UP KEEP OF MY CAR SO WAS THINKING MY CAR IS A LEMON.

IGNITION RECOIL PROBLEMS THE ENGINE HAS LOW POWER. HAD IT SERVICED AND IT STILL HAS THE SAME PROBLEM

WHILE SITTING IDLE FOR OVER 45 MINUTES THE CAR STARTED TO VIBRATE. WHEN I BEGAN TO DRIVE IT SHOOK AND DID NOT PICK UP AS IT SHOULD WHEN DRIVING. WHEN STOPPED AT A TRAFFIC LIGHT IT VIBRATES WORSE. I CALLED THE DEALERSHIP TO SCHEDULE AN APPOINTMENT . I’VE RESEARCHED THE INTERNET AND FOUND THAT THERE ARE OTHERS HAVING THE SAME PROBLEM. I AM A LITTLE LEERY IN DRIVING THE CAR SINCE THE DEALERSHIP DOESN’T HAVE LOANERS AND I MUST CONTINUE WITH MY DAY TO DAY LIVING. I AM NOT DRIVING ON THE INTERSTATE WITH THIS PROBLEM.

VEHICLE WAS IN MOTION, SMELLED SOMETHING “OFF”, WITHIN SECONDS ENGINE BURST INTO FLAMES. ENTIRE VEHICLE GUTTED. KIA LITERALLY JUST INSTALLED A NEW ENGINE, STARTER, BATTERY, AND INTAKE 2 DAYS PRIOR DUE TO ENGINE LOCKING UP – WITH 22000 MILES.

Electrical System

What part of a car doesn’t need help from the electrical system? There isn’t one. Everything in the car requires power to operate correctly. Yet, the Forte has some serious electrical concerns.

An NHTSA complaint talks about some problems. “The finger press fails to start when parked in hot sun. It will then start with pressing the key on button. Then a notice appears that the key is not present. But, car then runs fine. When I stop engine a notice says the key battery is weak (battery was replaced 4 days ago). Last year this happened and shop found an internal short in the smart key antenna. I did not occur again then till about 2-3 months ago.”

Hopefully this owner doesn’t live in a warm climate where this happens all the time. It’s evident that the Forte has more problems than can be counted. Just take Service Bulletin #PS537 as another example. It illustrates how the fuel mileage doesn’t display properly on the instrument cluster display. Maybe it doesn’t want owners to know how long they have been driving this defective model.

Here are some actual complaints logged with the NHTSA about the 2017 Kia Forte Electrical Problems:

MY BATTERY HAS FAILED TO START MY CAR TWICE IN A MONTH. I TOOK IT TO THE DEALER; THEY RAN IT THROUGH THE COMPUTER; THE BATTERY CAME BACK ‘FUNCTIONAL’. THIS DID NOT HAPPEN AT ALL LAST YEAR! THEIR REMEDY WAS TO DRIVE MORE OR INSTALL A ‘TRICKLE CHARGER’ ON THE BATTERY. (THIS CAR IS A LEASE; I HAVE HAD IT FOR 1.5 YEARS–PUTTING 3,600 MILES ON IT.) I HAD MY PREVIOUS CAR FOR TWENTY YEARS WITHOUT EVER HAVING THIS KIND OF ISSUE. I HAVE BEEN DRIVING VERY LOW MILES FOR YEARS WITHOUT A BATTERY ISSUE. THOUGHTS?

VOLUME BUTTONS ON STEERING WHEEL VOLUME UP TURNS VOLUME DOWN, MUTE BUTTON TURNS VOLUME UP.

Air Bags

Air bags were included in cars to keep occupants safe, but they must deploy for that to happen. There have been numerous complaints about the air bags not working, but one, in particular, is especially serious.

Read this statement left on the NHTSA website. “Vehicle was in a major crash on Illinois Route 15 in Belleville, IL. Vehicle was struck in the front driver side off center by a wrong way driver. Passenger in the KIA was trapped under the dash. Passenger was wearing seat belt and it appears the seat belt failed to lock. Passenger airbags did not deploy. Passenger was pronounced dead at the scene. Driver was wearing seat belt. Driver suffered severe injuries to his head from impacting the steering wheel and was ejected out of the driver side window. Subject’s seat belt broke and ripped. Air bags did not deploy as well. Subject was pronounced dead at the scene.”

Strangely, there is no information about air bag defects from the automaker. It’s as if everything is just fine from their end. For the families of these victims, it would be wise for Kia to look further into this, especially since air bag complaints appear to be rampant. Then again, it couldn’t be a power player with a defect such as this, so it’s better in their minds to completely ignore the problem.

Here are some actual complaints logged with the NHTSA about the 2017 Kia Forte Airbags Problems:

TL* THE CONTACT OWNS A 2017 KIA FORTE. WHILE DRIVING 45 MPH, THE CONTACT LOST CONTROL OF THE VEHICLE AND CRASHED INTO A TREE. THE AIR BAGS DID NOT DEPLOY. THE CONTACT SUSTAINED BRUISES AND SORENESS TO THE BODY, WHICH REQUIRED MEDICAL ATTENTION. A POLICE REPORT WAS FILED. THE VEHICLE WAS TOWED TO AN INDEPENDENT MECHANIC’S TOW YARD. THE INSURANCE ADJUSTER HAD NOT INSPECTED THE VEHICLE. THE LOCAL DEALER WAS NOT CONTACTED. THE VEHICLE WAS NOT DIAGNOSED OR REPAIRED. THE MANUFACTURER WAS NOTIFIED AND DID NOT ASSIST. THE FAILURE MILEAGE WAS 10,669. THE VIN WAS NOT AVAILABLE.

TL* THE CONTACT OWNS A 2017 KIA FORTE. WHILE DRIVING APPROXIMATELY 20 MPH, THE CONTACT’S VEHICLE WAS INVOLVED IN A FRONT END COLLISION. A POLICE REPORT WAS FILED. THE AIR BAGS DID NOT DEPLOY. THE VEHICLE WAS TOWED TO THE CONTACT’S RESIDENCE AND THEN TO A COLLISION SHOP. IT WAS NOT YET DETERMINED IF THE VEHICLE WAS DESTROYED. THE MANUFACTURER AND DEALER WERE NOT NOTIFIED. THE PASSENGER AND DRIVER SUFFERED MINOR PAIN AND BRUISING, WHICH DID NOT REQUIRE MEDICAL ATTENTION. THE FAILURE MILEAGE WAS 3,000.

Exterior Lighting

Driving at night requires that the car have sufficient lighting to see what’s ahead. But, there are several other aspects to the headlights that must work correctly but don’t on the Forte.

Just look at this Edmunds review. “Headlights do not automatically turn off when engine turns off. The only indicator is a tiny light on the dashboard screen that can be hidden by the steering wheel (no beep). Dashboard lights up even when headlights are not turned on; one has to be careful to remember that headlights are not on at dusk, even though dash is lit up. I find this to have been a dangerous car for an older person to use.”

It turns out this isn’t the only lighting problem Kia has to think about. Service Bulletin #TSB-BOD157 states that water can get into the rear lamps because of a poorly constructed design. In fact, Kia must replace both combination lamp pads to repair the problem. Have you ever seen a power player with lights underwater? It’s not likely.

Here are some actual complaints logged with the NHTSA about the 2017 Kia Forte Headlights and Rear Lamp Problems:

TL* THE CONTACT OWNS A 2017 KIA FORTE. THE CONTACT STATED THAT THE VEHICLE DID NOT PASS STATE INSPECTION BECAUSE THE REAR PASSENGER SIDE TAIL LIGHT WAS OUT. THE CONTACT STATED THAT THE LIGHT BULB WAS REPLACED ON AUGUST 13, 2019 BY AN INDEPENDENT MECHANIC. THE CONTACT ALSO MENTIONED THAT THE HEADLIGHTS FAILED TO OPERATE AT LEAST FIFTEEN TIMES SINCE THE VEHICLE WAS PURCHASED ON NOVEMBER 18, 2017. THE DEALER AND MANUFACTURER WERE NOT NOTIFIED OF THE FAILURES. THE HEADLIGHT FAILURE WAS NOT DIAGNOSED OR REPAIRED. THE APPROXIMATE FAILURE MILEAGE WAS 46,729.

IT STARTED WITH THE HEADLIGHTS BURNING OUT REGULARLY AND THEN I NOTICED WATER STARTED ACCUMULATING IN THE HEADLIGHTS AND THEN THE BRAKE LIGHTS AND TURN SIGNALS AND I CANNOT KEEP MY LIGHTS WORKING I HAVE RECEIVED TICKETS FOR LIGHTNING ISSUES AND I HAVE SPENT A FORTUNE ON BULBS ALREADY AND IT STARTED WITHIN 2-3 MONTHS OF BUYING THIS CAR BRAND NEW

IN THE LAST 1 1/2 YEARS OF OWNERSHIP I HAVE HAD MANY ISSUES WITH LIGHTS GOING OUT. FIRST BOTH BREAK LIGHTS WENT OUT AND I REPLACED THEM. THEN THE DRIVER’S SIDE HEADLIGHT KEPT GOING IN AND OUT. THE DRIVER’S SIDE BREAK LIGHT WENT OUT AGAIN SO I REPLACED IT AGAIN. NEXT THE PASSENGER SIDE HEADLIGHT WENT OUT COMPLETELY AND I REPLACED IT. AFTER THAT BOTH HEADLIGHTS WERE FINE. A FEW MONTHS LATER THE DRIVER’S SIDE HEADLIGHT STARTED GOING IN AND OUT AGAIN. I REPLACED IT AND IT WAS FINE. THEN THE PASSENGER SIDE BREAK LIGHT WENT OUT. 7 WEEKS AFTER I HAD BOTH HEADLIGHTS REPLACED AND IN GOOD WORKING ORDER THE DRIVER’S SIDE HEADLIGHT WENT OUT. 4 DAYS LATER THE PASSENGER SIDE HEADLIGHT WENT OUT.

HAVE GONE THROUGH 5 SETS OF HEADLAMPS IN THE FIRST YEAR AND A HALF OF CARS LIFE. USUALLY A ELECTRICAL BURNING SMELL OCCURS WHEN BULBS BURN OUT. HAVE ASKED DEALERSHIP TO ADDRESS THE ISSUE WITH EVERY OIL CHANGE ONLY TO GET CONFUSED LOOKS OR INSURED EXCUSES. ONLY SEEMS TO EFFECT THE FRONT HEADLAMPS AND LED LIGHTS STILL ON ORIGINAL FACTORY REAR LAMPS. HAVE LEFT 6 MESSAGES WITH DEALERSHIP AFTER LAST INCIDENT WITH NO CALL BACK.

Fuel System

Owners drive their vehicles to the gas pump and rarely give it a second though unless there is a problem. That’s what Forte owners are dealing with right now.

This NHTSA user says, “The vehicle had been driven for over 300 miles on this particular tank of gas, so I’m certain that the fuel gauge is correct; the gas light is also on. I parked at a gas station and put the car in Park and turned off the car. I attempted to fill the tank, but the fuel will not go in. The fuel splashes back out and will not go into the tank.”

This isn’t the only fuel system issue. Service Bulletin #TSBBOD192_R1 states that the fuel door might not open all the way, making it challenging to fill up. With all of these issues, Forte owners are probably embarrassed to attempt getting gas. It probably looks like a circus act attempting to hold open the door and keep the fuel from splashing out. What a power player!

Here are some actual complaints logged with the NHTSA about the 2017 Kia Forte Fuel System Problems:

MY CAR THE GAS SHOOTS OUT ,I HAVE TO GO THROUGH ALL THIS WITH A NEW CAR MY ENGINE LIGHT BEEN ON FROM THE TIME I BOUGHT IT THIS CAR GAVE ME PROBLEMS EVERY TIME I BRING IT BACK THEY SAID JUST DROP IT OFF SO WE CAN TRY FIXING IT IT TAKE UP TO THREE DAYS ARE MORE PLUS THEY DON’T GIVE OUT LOANER CAR AT ALL SO HOW I SUPPOSE TO GET TO WORK SO I CONTINUE TO DRIVE IT LIKE THAT.I DON’T KNOW WHY I BROUGHT THIS CAR. IT WASTED MY MONEY AND TIME.

FORTE HAS INTERMITTENT STRONG GAS SMELL THRU VENTS. IS AT DEALER FOR SECOND TIME. WILL FILE REPORT

Vehicle Speed Control

With cruise control and other adaptive equipment, maintaining the appropriate speed shouldn’t be challenging, yet Kia Forte owners have something else to say about it.

One NHTSA review says, “Car will randomly hesitate and shake with power loss maybe once every few days. This will happen when coming to a stop then accelerating again after driving for 30 minutes or so. CEL will either not display or blink a few times but go away (and not show up on the history) making it impossible to diagnose. Took it to 2 KIA dealers, both said that they’ve seen this on a lot of KIA Fortes. They have made the recommended repairs, but still have the issue.”

Again, there are no service bulletins regarding this complaint. It seems the automaker wants to remain quiet on the safety-related concerns. In the meantime, drivers think this car will keep them safe. Not only will it speed up on its own, but drivers can’t expect that the air bags will protect them. What is this model good for exactly?

Here are some actual complaints logged with the NHTSA about the 2017 Kia Forte Cruise Control Problems:

TL* THE CONTACT OWNS A 2017 KIA FORTE. WHILE STATIONARY, THE VEHICLE ACCELERATED RAPIDLY WITHOUT WARNING WHEN THE ACCELERATOR PEDAL WAS DEPRESSED. KIA OF ORANGE WAS MADE AWARE OF THE FAILURE. THE VEHICLE WAS NOT DIAGNOSED OR REPAIRED. THE MANUFACTURER WAS MADE AWARE OF THE FAILURE. THE FAILURE MILEAGE WAS APPROXIMATELY 8,200.

THE AUTONOMOUS EMERGENCY BRAKING (AEB) AND FORWARD COLLISION WARNING (FCW) SYSTEMS ON MY VEHICLE NEVER ACTIVATE WHEN TRAFFIC SITUATIONS ARE OBVIOUS FOR THE AEB AND FCW TO ACTIVATE. EVEN HOME-SPUN SYSTEM TESTS DON’T SHOW THE SYSTEMS TO BE OPERATIONAL. THE LOCAL KIA DEALERSHIP AND REPAIR CENTER CANNOT VALIDATE THE SYSTEM’S INTEGRITY BECAUSE THEY CANNOT ACCOMPLISH DEFINITIVE TESTS TO VERIFY THE SYSTEM. THEY SAY “WE DON’T KNOW.” THIS IS A SAFETY ISSUE THAT MUST BE RESOLVED. THIS ISSUE IS ONGOING.

I HAVE HAD MY 2017 KIA FORTE FOR 3 MONTHS AND IN THE VEEY BEGINNING IT DROVE FINE. RECENTLY THE CAR HAS BECOME VERY SLUGGISH AND BECAME INCREASINGLY HARD TO ACCELERATE. I NOTICED IT BUT BRUSHED IT OFF. THIS PAST WEEKEND I LET SOMEONE DRIVE MY CAR AND THEY COMPLAINED ABOUT HOW HARD IT WAS TO ACCELERATE. THAT’S WHEN I KNEW THAT IT WASN’T JUST ME. TODAY, AS I WAS ABOUT TO MAKE AN UNPROTECTED LEFT TURN THE CAR FAILED TO ACCELERATE LIKE IT SHOULD FROM A STOPPED POSITION AND I WAS CAUGHT IN THE INTERSECTION LONGER THAN I NEEDED TO BE. NEEDLESS TO SAY IT COULD HAVE ENDED BADLY. I THINK THIS PROBLEM NEEDS LOOKING INTO. I SHOULD NOT BE HOLDING UP TRAFFIC BECAUSE MY CAR DOESN’T ACCELERATE LIKE IT SHOULD WHEN I AM FLOORING THE GAS PEDAL. THIS IS VERY DANGEROUS ON THE HIGHWAY.

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