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
Engines are one of the most vital components in any new vehicle. With the right amount of power and durability, consumers couldn’t be happier and more satisfied. Yet, the 2018 Kia Sportage has provided nothing but complaints.
Just look at this NHTSA review. “Vehicle suddenly decelerated to 20 mph on one way highway in a passing zone. Problem then diagnosed as engine failure. 5 weeks later, with vehicle still out of service, diagnosed instead as wiring harness problem. Wiring harness replaced. Brand new car, 11 months old, 5,925 miles, service with first oil change 5 days before problem occurred. Kia Roadside Assistance had no regard for my safety on the side of a dangerous freeway and had to be resolved two hours later with AAA Service Towing. Still no reimbursement from Kia.”
It’s possible that this issue isn’t getting the recognition it deserves because of a massive recall affecting Kia engines. It turns out that a high-pressure fuel pipe might leak, which can lead to a fire. NHTSA Campaign Number 18V907000 talks about a defect with the engine or Knock Sensor Detection System installed in nearly 70,000 vehicles. More about that sensor in a minute! Either way, these SUVs can’t possibly command the road, when they can’t even operate.
Here are some actual complaints logged with the NHTSA about the 2018 Kia Sportage Engine Problems:
I HAD A TOTAL ENGINE FAILURE ON I-75 WITH MY 2018 KIA SPORTAGE WITH JUST OVER 18,000 MILES. MY INSURANCE CARRIER (USAA) PERSON I SPOKE WITH SAID I WAS THE THIRD PERSON SHE HAS SPOKEN WITH IN THE LAST WEEK THAT HAD THE SAME MAKE & MODEL NUMBER THAT THE ENGINE FAILED. SHE SAID ONE PERSON WAS TOLD BY HER DEALER IT COULD BE SIX MONTHS BEFORE THEY CAN GET HER AN ENGINE. I AM IN NAPLES FLORIDA AND DEAL WITH AIRPORT KIA IN NAPLES, FL.
AFTER ECU UPGRADED UNDER “PRODUCT IMPROVEMENT CAMPAIGN”, ENGINE SUFFERED SEVERE LOSS OF POWER WHILE TRAVELING AT HIGHWAY SPEED, LEADING TO RAPID LOSS OF SPEED. LESS THAN 9K MILES ON VEHICLE.
ENGINE FAILED TO RUN AT SPEED, DROPPED TO 20 MPH AND WOULD NOT MOVE ANY FASTER.
ENGINE WAS UPDATED REGARDING SOFTWARE , BUT ENGINE SHUT DOWN WHILE IN HWY OPERATION AT ACCELERATING SPEEDS AND IMMEDIATELY SHUT DOWN REDUCING SPEED TO 20 MPH MAY CAUSE FATAL ACCIDENT IF TRATOR TRAILER REAR ENDS YOU DURING THIS OCCURACE SINCE ONE WAS COMING UP OR TRAFFIC IN GENERAL CONSIDERING PEOPLE DON’T REACT ANYMORE.DEALERS SEEM RELUCTANT TO REPORTS THESE OCCURANCES.
Problems with the Transmission
What about the powertrain? Is it as defective as the engines are in these Sportage models?
Let’s see what an NHTSA complaint has to say. “I’ve been experiencing a transmission issue. I’ll be driving along, steadily with speed control set at 70 and all of a sudden my engine and RPM gauge will rev up down shift and then go back to normal. My speed doesn’t change, no lights go on, just the rev-ing sound and the gauge goes up it also happening at low speeds as well, it’s vey alarming to me. I’ve checked with Kia and they’re aware of the issue but state that there is currently no recall or alert as to what exactly the problem is, it also intermittently will have acceleration on take off. Has been back to the Kia dealer twice, the last time was told by general manager and service manager and they have no clue, and general manager was very rude and tried to just sale me another vehicle. When I declined he got very unprofessional and seemed he was not concerned of the warranty and to take it back to dealer that sold it to me 600 miles away.”
With Service Bulletin #TSBTRA076, it is made clear that there are transmission issues that result in an intermittent shift flare concern. To repair this, the technicians must update the TCU. In the meantime, the Sportage acts as if it doesn’t know how to shift. It must be difficult to command the road when the vehicle is bucking all around.
Here are some actual complaints logged with the NHTSA about the 2018 Kia Sportage Transmission Problems:
TL* THE CONTACT OWNS A 2018 KIA SPORTAGE. WHEN THE CONTACT ATTEMPTED TO ACCELERATE FROM A STOP OR LOW SPEEDS, THE VEHICLE FAILED TO ACCELERATE IN A TIMELY MANNER. THE FAILURE WAS EXPERIENCED SEVERAL TIMES. THE VEHICLE WAS TAKEN TO AN UNKNOWN DEALER FOR DIAGNOSTIC TESTING, BUT A FAILURE CODE WAS NOT LOCATED. THE DEALER ALSO TEST DROVE THE VEHICLE AND WAS UNABLE TO DUPLICATE THE FAILURE. THE VEHICLE WAS NOT REPAIRED. THE MANUFACTURER WAS NOT CONTACTED. THE FAILURE MILEAGE WAS NOT AVAILABLE.
2018 KIA SPORTAGE 4D 4X4 WHILE IN PARK ROLLED DOWN HOME DRIVEWAY. VEHICLE ROLLED INTO STREET, WHILE WIFE HOLDING ONE YEAR OLD SON DODGED VEHICLE TO AVOID GETTING CRUSHED.
Problems with the Electrical System
With the electrical components, there is just so much that can go wrong. Without highly qualified engineers, the vehicle can quickly turn into one big headache, which is exactly what we see with this Sportage model.
One NHTSA review says, “High pitched whirring sound lasting 10 to 15 seconds when car is parked a day or more after driving. Has happened 4 times we have heard it. Vehicle has 1200 miles on it. Occurs intermittently. It sounds to me like the starter motor running.”
Electrical problems can range from minor nuisances, such as noise to extreme dangers. For example, with Service Bulletin #VPI1802_TSB_R5, it is stated that the ECU requires a software update and the techs must install a Knock Sensor Detection System to protect the engine from excessive connecting rod bearing damage. If you remember, this is the same sensor that sparked the recall from earlier. So, Kia installed a sensor to prevent damage but ended up creating more problems. Clearly, anyone that wants to command the road should get into another vehicle.
Here are some actual complaints logged with the NHTSA about the 2018 Kia Sportage Electrical Problems:
ALL OF THE LIGHTS ON MY DASHBOARD COME ON AND WHEN THIS HAPPENS ITS GENERALLY NIGHT TIME. I CANT DRIVE MY CAR WITH THE HEADLIGHTS ON BECAUSE IF I CUT THEM ON MY CAR WONT MOVE AND MY REAR VIEW CAMERA WILL NOT WORK. THE FIRST TIME THIS HAPPENED IT WAS 05/18/2019. I WAS DRIVING IN THE EVENING HOURS TO PICK MY SON UP FROM WORK I NOTICED THAT THE CAR STARTED TO SLOW DOWN AS I HAD MY FOOT ON THE ACCELERATOR, I PULLED THE CAR TO THE SIDE BEFORE IT STOPPED AND TURNED EVERYTHING OFF. I WAITED A FEW MINUTES CUT IT BACK ON AND EVERY LIGHT ON THE DASHBOARD WAS ON. I COULDNT MOVE MY CAR I CUT THE HEADLINE OFF AND IT PROCEEDED TO MOVE. HOWEVER AT THAT TIME OF NIGHT I NEED LIGHTS. THE NEXT MORNING I TOOK THE CAR TO BERWYN KIA IN BERWYN ILLINOIS AND WAS TOLD THAT A SOFTWARE UPDATE WAS NEEDED, TOOK 30 MINUTES AND I WAS GONE. A WEEK OR TWO LATER I WAS RIGHT BACK WITH EXACT SAME ISSUE AND WAS TOLD IT WAS A HARNESS PROBLEM AND HEY WOULD GET IT FIXED. MY CAR WAS HERE FOR A MONTH. I PICKED MY CAR UP AND 07/03/2019 IT HAPPENED AGAIN AND I HAVE VIDEO FOOTAGE FOR EACH INCIDENT. I CALLED KIA CUSTOMER SERVICE AND SPOKE WITH THEM AND I AM NOW BEING THE CAR BACK AGAIN ON 07/17/2019 BECAUSE ALL OF THE ISSUES HAVE HAPPENED AGAIN!!
Problems with the Brakes
When it comes to brakes, no one wants to hear that this system is malfunctioning. Yet, that’s precisely what Sportage owners face daily.
One NHTSA complaint says, “I purchased my 2018 Kia Sportage EX brand new 6-18-18. Less than 100 miles on the car and the dashboard instrument lights went dark while driving on the highway in the dark. I brought it back to the dealer, they had to order a new gauge dimmer cluster because the original failed. Several weeks later the brakes began violently shaking the car when braking on the highway. Again, I brought it back to the dealer and they resurfaced the brake rotors due to warping. Several months later, on 1-28-19, the engine died on the highway placing the vehicle into Limp Home Mode. I almost got hit by a tractor trailer trying to get to the breakdown lane without ample engine power. I immediately drove it to the dealer and it has been there ever since. I got the BBB involved now and I am trying to get the Lemon Law in place. I am currently in a rental.”
It’s evident that this owner dealt with multiple Sportage issues, which must have been frustrating. While we don’t see any communication about the brakes, we do see plenty of others showcasing how poorly these vehicles were constructed. Service Bulletin #PS610 is one example because it talks about how the seat belts are mismatched and won’t work properly. How does something like that even occur? Were the engineers so interested in finding ways to command the road that they forgot to strap people in? It seems that the Sportage engineers failed on so many levels.
Here are some actual complaints logged with the NHTSA about the 2018 Kia Sportage Brake Problems:
ALL ELECTRICAL MALFUNCTION AND LOSS OF STEERING AND BRAKES RESULTING IN HEADING CRASH
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