This article was written by Brian Jones, trusted ASE Certified Master Tech and Lemberg Law Expert Automotive Contributor
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Problems with the Engine
The Kia Sportage might be small, but it still needs to have a durable and potent engine in order to please owners. That sad thing is that this model is nothing but a disappointment.
One Edmunds reviewer illustrated that with this review. “My car needed a new engine at 26,600 miles. Engine was shaking/vibrating severely and would not accelerate without putting the gas pedal to the floor. Scary as the problem started while driving on the freeway several miles from home. The car barely made it to the dealership. Kia was able to provide and install a new engine in less than 2 weeks, which is appreciated, but not sure that will restore my confidence in the brand. Fuel injectors will were also replaced. It is clear this was a catastrophic failure of some kind. I was not provided with any more details regarding the specific failures in the engine, only that it lost 50%+ of compression. Hopefully this engine and the rest of the car perform well. I was advised the new engine will have a new 100k mile warranty but I am concerned about how a full engine replacement could affect the car’s value for resale later.”
It turns out there are multiple issues with this engine. Service Bulletin #TSBENG159 talks about replacing the E-CVVT cover and motor plug due to an oil leak on the 2.4-liter GDI and 2.0-liter T-GDI engines. Driving a newer SUV should provide unquestionable peace of mind. No owner should have to worry about oil leaks or having the new engine replaced. That isn’t the adventure they signed up for when they purchased this SUV.
Here are some actual complaints logged with the NHTSA about the 2017 Kia Sportage Engine Fire Problems:
2017 KIA SPORTAGE LX 2.4L BOUGHT BRAND NEW AND HAS BEEN USING OIL. CAR NOW HAS A LITTLE OVER 22,000 MILES AND IS USING 1.4 QUARTS OF OIL DURING THE 5000 MILE DEALERSHIP OIL CHANGES WHICH HAVE ALL BEEN DONE AT THE DEALERSHIP SINCE PURCHASING NEW. THE DEALERSHIP ACKNOWLEDGES THERE IS A PROBLEM WITH THE ENGINE AFTER PERFORMING 3 OIL CONSUMPTION TEST HOWEVER KIA CORPORATE CONSIDERS THE OIL USAGE NORMAL SO THEY ARE DECLINING TO FIX THE ISSUE SINCE THEIR “TECHNICIANS” DOES NOT SEE THIS AS A PROBLEM TO COVER UNDER WARRANTY.AN INTERNET SEARCH “KIA OIL CONSUMPTION” FOUND MULTIPLE COMPLAINTS FROM OTHER OWNERS WITH THE SAME ISSUE AND SAME RESPONSE FROM KIA.
TL* THE CONTACT OWNED A 2017 KIA SPORTAGE. THE CONTACT STATED THAT TEN MINUTES AFTER THE VEHICLE WAS PARKED, THE CONTACT NOTICED SMOKE BILLOWING FROM UNDER THE HOOD OF THE VEHICLE. SEVERAL FIRE FIGHTERS ON SITE AT THE MOMENT ATTEMPTED TO EXTINGUISH THE FIRE BUT WAS UNABLE TO DO SO. THE FIRE DEPARTMENT WAS CONTACTED AND WAS ABLE TO EXTINGUISH THE FIRE. A FIRE REPORT WAS FILED. THE VEHICLE WAS TOWED TO A TOW FACILITY. THE VEHICLE WAS NOT YET INSPECTED. THE DEALER WAS NOT CONTACTED OR NOTIFIED OF THE FIRE. THE MANUFACTURER WAS CONTACTED AND NOTIFIED OF THE FAILURE. THE VEHICLE WAS DESTROYED. THE APPROXIMATE FAILURE MILEAGE WAS 30,000.
THE DATE I GAVE WAS ONE OF MANY. IT HAPPENS A LOT. WHEN DRIVING MY ENGINE REVS WAY UP HIGH. LIKE YOU ARE PUSHING THE ACCELERATOR TO THE FLOOR. AND I AM DRIVING NORMAL. I TOOK THE CAR TO THE SERVICE DEPARTMENT. THEY SAID THERE WAS NOTHING THEY COULD DO. BECAUSE THEY COULDN’T GET IT TO REV UP FOR THEM. IT IS VERY SCARY. I REALLY DON’T FEEL SAFE DRIVING THE VEHICLE. THIS HAPPENS A LOT. THERE HAS TO BE SOMETHING THAT IS CAUSING THIS. IT CAN HAPPEN AT ANYTIME YOU CAN BE DRIVING NORMAL SPEED, YOU CAN BE SLOWING DOWN, YOU CAN JUST BE TAKING OFF FROM A STOP. WHENEVER IT WANTS TO REV UP..
THE VEHICLE WAS IN MOTION ON A HIGHWAY, THERE WAS WHITE SMOKE COMING FROM THE ENGINE. IMMEDIATELY AFTER PULLING OVER MORE WHITE SMOKE CAME OUT OF THE ENGINE TOWARDS THE REAR OF THE MOTOR. AFTER EXITING THE VEHICLE FLAMES APPEARED FROM UNDER THE CAR NEAR THE REAR OF THE MOTOR, THE FLAMES GREW FROM ALL SIDE OF THE ENGINE. THE FIRE SPREAD TO THE DASH AND INTERIOR OF THE CAR CAUSING THE PASSENGER AIRBAGS TO BLOW.
Problems with the Transmission
As far as the powertrain, it would be nice to see something different. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. There are just as many transmission-related complaints as there are for the engine.
One Edmunds reviewer says, “This 2017 has a major defect that is apparently a recall in the waiting. The transmission is worse than bad. Mine has locked into a gear and would not change. It constantly downshifts when it has no business shifting…thus, planting you into the steering wheel. It has a proclivity to slip into neutral while driving causing the RPM’s to redline for no reason. The dealer has no idea what to do about it because Kia hasn’t come up with a fix. I am aware of three other cars just like mine with the same issues…..all brand new. I’ve had strangers come up to me in parking lots and ask if my tranny is screwed up too. Kia has to be aware they are selling cars with a defect.”
It turns out that Kia knows about several powertrain issues. With Service Bulletin #VPI1802_DSM, they talk about updating the ECU to protect the engine against excessive connecting rod bearing damage. Instead of simply correcting the problem, this update simply detects vibrations and alerts the driver. Then, it puts the car into a Limp Home Mode, so there’s no further damage. Basically, it’s a failsafe put in place so Kia only has to fix the vehicles with damage done. There’s no more adventure available if the powertrain fails – it’s straight to the dealership.
Here are some actual complaints logged with the NHTSA about the 2017 Kia Sportage Transmission Problems:
CAR WAS PARKED OVERNIGHT KEYS WERE TAKEN AND CAR LOCKED AT 8PM AT 530 AM HEARD CRASH CAR ROLLED INTO TREE AND DOORS WERE STILL LOCKED CAR CAME OUT OF PARK AND ROLLED AFTER 9.5 HOURS OF SITTING CAR HAD TO BE IN PARK FOR KEY FOB TO LOCK DOORS AFTER IT ROLLED THE DOORS WERE LOCKED BUT GEAR WAS IN REVERSE
WITHOUT WARNING THE CAR DROPS OUT OF GEAR, THE ENGINE REVS. YOU HAVE TO TAKE YOUR FOOT OFF THE GAS FOR THE CAR TO GO BACK INTO DRIVE AND YOU CAN CONTINUE DRIVING. THIS HAPPENS AT ANY SPEED.
TOOK CAR TO DEALER BECAUSE AUTO TRANSMISSION HAD BEEN SLIPPING, THEN STUCK IN 4TH GEAR. COULD NOT MANUALLY SHIFT TO CHANGE. DEALER REPLACED TRANSMISSION SWITCH PLATE/SENSOR. CAR WAS RETURNED TO ME ON 8/15/2019. 9/19 RETURNED CAR TO DEALER AS TRANSMISSION STARTED SLIPPING AGAIN, SHIFTING ROUGH AND THEN ACCELERATING TO GET ON FREEWAY RPMS FLEW UP AS CAR WENT INTO NEUTRAL. I LUCKILY STAYED TO RIGHT AS TRUCK BEHIND ME SWERVED LEFT. CAR THEN WENT INTO GEAR, I GOT OFF FREEWAY. DEALER HAD ME RIDE WITH MECHANIC AND PROBLEM OF SLOW UPSHIFTING, ROUGH SHIFTING AND DELAYED SHIFTING WAS DUPLICATED. DEALER WAS NOT ABLE TO PULL ANY CODES. THIS IS SERIOUS SAFETY ISSUE. I OPENED KIA CASE NUMBER 13369527. KIA CUSTOMER SERVICE, CHRIS, STATED PER HIS MANAGER JADA WOULD ESCALATE. CHRIS ALSO STATED THERE WAS NO RECORD OF PREVIOUS NHTSA COMPLAINT
TRANSMISSION STARTED EARLY UPSHIFTING AFTER 12K MILES. WHILE NOT APPARENTLY DANGEROUS, I FIND IT VERY ANNOYING.
TRANSMISSION WILL SUDDENLY DISENGAGE AND ENGINE WILL ACCELERATE TO 4500 RPM OR HIGHER. THIS HAPPENS WHILE DRIVING MOSTLY WHEN VEHICLE IS BETWEEN 25 AND 45 MPH. THIS HAPPENS SEVERAL TIMES A MONTH. THIS HAS CAUSED VEHICLE TO PAUSE WHEN SWITCHING LANES, ALMOST CAUSING AN ACCIDENT. THIS HAS HAPPENED MULTIPLE TIMES OVER THE LAST YEAR.
Problems with the Electrical System
Whether something malfunctions with the electrical to the interior features or to the engine, drivers feel the effects. It’s clear that the 2017 Sportage suffers from many of these defects as well.
Just read this Edmunds review. “I traded in my Kia Soul for a 2017 Kia Sportage in October of 2016, loved the look the drive etc. Dealing with Kia Service however has been another issue, Camelback Kia!! In April of 2017 my lights and ac went out I only had parking lots arriving at the airport at 3am had an hour and 15 min drive to get home. Drove home with parking lots on 110 in Arizona not safe but my only choice at that point. Took it into the dealership they couldn’t find anything and it has not happened since. Now for the past 4 weeks my AC has been out working here in there but in 124 degrees that is unacceptable! I called Kia for a Saturday day apt they got me in never telling me that they didn’t have anyone to work on the vehicle on a Saturday as it was a skeleton crew. Sat there 6.5 hours had to pay $250 for a recharge and a cabin filter but they did not know if that was the problem got in the car and it was not fixed I was told I had to bring it up on a weekday. Today I have dropped off the car was told I would be reimbursed for my fee on Saturday and was told now I have to wait until they figure out what is going on. Did not pay for rental I live 1 hour plus away from the dealership and can’t not take the day off work to deal with my defected car. I have called corporate no response. I told them today I do not want the car till it’s fixed.”
It turns out this isn’t the only electrical concern out there. Kia even issued an electrical system-related recall. NHTSA Campaign Number 16V862000 states that the trailer brakes might stay illuminated, thereby confusing other drivers. This also increases the chance of an accident. It turns out that the faulty part is the tow hitch module that requires replacement. Of course, this only occurs when towing, which is precisely how most people enjoy an adventure. Whether it be heading to the campground or the lake, owners receive more of an adventure than they planned for.
Here are some actual complaints logged with the NHTSA about the 2017 Kia Sportage Electrical Problems:
WITH ONLY 6762 MILES ON THE ODOMETER, GOING 79-80 MPH ON CRUISE CONTROL, THE FOLLOWING HAPPENED ALL AT ONCE WITHOUT WARNING: (1) LOUD THUNK UNDER THE HOOD (2) ENGINE STOPPED (3) ELECTRICAL SYSTEM SHUT DOWN, INCLUDING AUDIO, DASHBOARD, AND HEADLIGHTS (4) RAPID DECELERATION, AS IF I HAD SLAMMED ON THE BRAKES (THOUGH I HAD NOT). (5) APPROACHING THE SHOULDER, I NOTICED THAT THE POWER STEERING AND POWER BRAKES WERE ALSO INACTIVE. AFTER PUTTING IN PARK, IT MIRACULOUSLY STARTED RIGHT BACK UP AND GOT ME HOME. BUT THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE, AND A VERY SERIOUS SAFETY ISSUE, BECAUSE THE NEXT TIME IT HAPPENS, IT’LL BE DURING RUSH HOUR AND THEN I’LL GET REAR-ENDED BY THE UBIQUITOUS TAILGATER, GOING 70 MPH. EVEN IF THE BRAKE LIGHTS WORK WHEN I GET A CHANCE TO APPLY THEM, THERE WOULD STILL BE A DELAY OF A SECOND OR TWO DURING WHICH THE VEHICLE WOULD BE RAPIDLY DECELERATING ON ITS OWN, WITHOUT BRAKE LIGHTS. NOT TO MENTION THE UNDOUBTEDLY ACCELERATED WEAR AND TEAR ON INTERNAL PARTS.
POWER WINDOW MOTORS FAILING. THIS CAR HAS LESS THAN 55,000 MILE ONE IT AND ONLY 2 YEARS OLD BUT THREE OUT OF THE FOUR POWER WINDOW MOTORS HAVE FAILED IN THE PAST TWO MONTHS.
CAR WON’T START FOR NO REASON AT ALL ON SOME OCCASIONS
Problems with the Fuel System
Fuel works in conjunction with the engine to produce power. When the fuel doesn’t remain where it should, an engine fire can break out.
That’s exactly what is illustrated in this NHTSA report. “The contact rented a 2017 Kia Sportage. The contact stated that while pulling into an army base at approximately 30 mph there was smoke coming from the vehicle. A witness informed the contact that there were flames coming from under the vehicle. The flames spread to the hood and wrapped around to the driver’s side of the vehicle. The contact exited the vehicle as it engulfed in flames. The contact observed that there was a trail of fuel coming from the vehicle. The fire was distinguished by the local fire department. A police report was filed and there were no injuries reported. The vehicle was towed back to the rental company. The vehicle was destroyed. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure. The failure mileage was 83,044.”
It turns out that there is also a recall related to fuel leaks on this Sportage. NHTSA Campaign Number 18V907000 discusses how a high-pressure fuel pipe can leak and cause a fire. More than 70,000 vehicles were affected. Funny enough, this is caused by the Knock Sensor Detection System installed to repair the powertrain concerns. It could also stem from an engine replacement on some models. As part of the recall, Kia will inspect the fuel pipe and replace it, if needed. Nothing says adventure quite like a car fire.
Here are some actual complaints logged with the NHTSA about the 2017 Kia Sportage Fuel System Problems:
PICKED UP MY DAUGHTER FROM SCHOOL, SHE ASKED ME TO TURN ON THE HEATER THAT SHE WAS COLD, WHEN I TURNED ON THE HEATER, WITHIN A MINUTE THE WHOLE CAP OF MY KIA SPORTAGE WAS ENGULFED IN A TERRIBLE GAS ODOR, WHICH BOTH MY DAUGHTER AND I BECAME DIZZY AND NAUSEA. I IMMEDIATELY OPENED ALL THE WINDOWS AND DROVE A SHORT WAY TO MY PARENTS HOUSE. I DROVE MY SPORTAGE STRAIGHT INTO THE DEALERSHIP WITH MY MOM AND DAUGHTER FOLLOWING ME IN HER CAR. I DROPPED THE CAR OFF AT THE DEALERSHIP. THE NEXT DAY SAVAGE KIA CALLED ME AND STATED I SHOULD PICK UP A LOANER THAT THEY WOULD HAVE MY CAR FOR APPROXIMATELY A WEEK. WHEN MY DAD AND I WENT TO THE DEALERSHIP TO PICK UP THE LOANER, WE ASKED WHAT WAS THE ISSUE WITH MY SPORTAGE, THE SERVICE MANAGER STATED THAT THEY CONTACTED KIA ASSISTANCE TO DIAGNOSE THE ISSUE, THAT GAS WAS SPURTING OUT FROM THE INJECTORS AND INTO MY ENGINE,THAT THE SUV HAD A DEFECTIVE ( FAULTY FUEL INJECTOR AND HOUSING IN IT) MY FATHER THEN STATED TO THE SERVICE MANAGER THAT THAT COULD OF KILLED MY SON AND GRANDDAUGHTER IF THE GAS WOULD OF SPARKED IN THE ENGINE AND ALSO STATED LUCKILY MY SON IS NOT A SMOKER OR THEY WOULD BOTH BE DEAD. THE SERVICE MANAGER DID NOT DENY THE ISSUE WAS A SERIOUS ISSYE. WHEN I CONTACTED KIA CORP TO FILE A COMPLAINT THEY WERE LIKE ROBOTS, LIKE THERE ONLY RESPONSABILITY IS TO FIX THE CAR, NOTHING HAPPENED SO IT’S ALL GOOD. I STATED TO THEM THAT I REALLY DO NOT WANT TO DRIVE THIS CAR AND ASKED THEM IF THEY COULD GIVE ME ANOTHER ONE. THEY STATED THIS IS NOT A OPTION. THE ONLY THING THEY COMPENSTATED ME WITH WAS ONE LEASE PAYMENT. COULD YOU PLEASE INFORM ME WHAT MY OPTIONS ARE. I JUST DO NOT FEEL COMFORTABLE DRIVING THIS VEHICLE AND I AM VERY UPSET THAT KIA DID NOT HAVE ANY COMPASSION TOWARDS THERE VEHICLE POTENTIALLY CAUSES GREAT HARM OR DEATH TO MY SEVEN YEAR OLD DAUGHTER. THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR YOUR TIME.
FUEL LINE SEEMS TO BE CLOGGED? WHEN I STEP ON THE GAS SOMETIMES THE CAR DOESN’T GO BUT THE RMP’S REV UP. SEEMS LIKE IT WANTS TO STALL OR JUST NO GO. THIS HAPPENS EVEN WHILE JUST DRIVING DOWN THE STREET AND THEN GIVING THE CAR GAS TO SPEED UP; NOT JUST AT STOP AND GO;
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