This article was written by Brian Jones, ASE Certified Master Tech and Lemberg Law Automotive Contributor
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Problems with the Transmission
The powertrain consists of several parts that transfer the energy from the motor and put it to the wheels. One of the most vital aspects to this system is the transmission, which seems to be causing trouble for Sportage owners.
Here is a recent Edmunds review. “My vehicle has significant issues at around 1200 rpm at around 40 mph especially on inclines. There is a prominent vibration and a hesitation in responding to accelerator pressure. It happens at various rpms and speeds but most consistently in this range. It eventually downshifts to 2000+ rpms and vibrations stop. AND at 2000 rpms at 70 mpg it vibrates and does not respond to acceleration. It does not downshift to raise the rpms and stop vibrations and speed up. I have reported this to the dealership and to KIA. I drove a similar 2019 Sportage and it appeared to have the same issues though we did not take it for an extended drive.”
Even the automaker admits trouble with the powertrain by releasing Service Bulletin #TSBTRA086. It states that the vehicle could have an oil leakage from the 4WD coupling assembly, 4WD malfunction, abnormal noises and vibration. These are all situations that no new car driver wants to find themselves in. Kia might have one of the best warranties on the market, but most customers are finding themselves trying to get the repairs needed.
Here are some actual complaints logged with the NHTSA about the 2019 Kia Sportage Transmission Problems:
IN THE RANGE OF 1200-1500 RPM AND SPEEDS IN THE 40 MPH RANGE THERE IS A VIBRATION AND HESITATION ESPECIALLY ON ANY DEGREE OF INCLINE. MORE SERIOUSLY, THE PROBLEM REPEATS AT 2000 RMP AT HIGHWAY SPEEDS FROM 65 MPH UPWARDS. THERE IS A VIBRATION AND SERIOUS LACK OF RESPONSE TO INCREASED PRESSURE ON THE ACCELERATOR. IT IS WORSE ON ANY INCLINE BUT HAPPENS ON LEVEL ROAD AS WELL. THE CAR WILL NOT RESPOND TO TRYING TO INCREASE SPEED UNLESS I REALLY PUSH HARD ON THE ACCELERATOR AND THEN IT IS STILL SLOW TO RESPOND. THE PROBLEMS SEEM TO BE GETTING WORSE POSSIBLY DUE TO THE SUMMER HEAT. I DO NOT FEEL SAFE ON THE HIGHWAY.
Problems with the Vehicle Structure
Generally, the more a car costs, the better it is built. However, even cheaper cars should be made to last, but that doesn’t seem to be true of the Sportage.
Here’s another Edmunds review to consider. “The road & wind noise is horrible, everyone that rides in it comments on it.”
Among these issues, Kia has acknowledged trouble with the windshield washer nozzle construction in Service Bulletin #PS590. The company states that these nozzles could become blocked and fail to work. Hopefully, no one wants to see clearly out the windshield while listening to all of that road noise.
Problems with the Engine
When it comes to moving down the road, a car must have a properly working engine. Yet, this is one more vital component that is suffering with the Sportage.
This NHTSA complaint states, “Purchased car on July 28, 2019 from [dealer]. Took it to their service center on November 26 for complimentary oil and filter change. On December 5 on the I-75 expressway, got an alarm sound and sign that the ‘engine has overheated.’ Managed to get home, next day waited all day for towing company. Either car is defective or the service they did caused this dangerous issue.”
Again, Kia is aware of engine concerns. Service Bulletin #PI1805_TSB_R2 talks about installing a Knock Sensor Detection System to prevent the engine from excessive connecting rod bearing damage. In the meantime, unsuspecting drivers are traveling without this technology and possibly putting excessive wear on the engines that may or may not be covered by warranty. Of course, if the company had produced a good engine to begin with, this software wouldn’t be required.
Here are some actual complaints logged with the NHTSA about the 2019 Kia Sportage Engine Problems:
WHILE DRIVING NORMALLY ON THE HIGHWAY, I’VE CONTINUOUSLY EXPERIENCED THE CAR RANDOMLY REVVING BETWEEN 3000 AND 4000 RPMS WHILE DRIVING ON THE HIGHWAY AND ON REGULAR ROADS. IT WILL GET STUCK AT 2000 RPMS AND WILL NOT ACCELERATE OR DECELERATE NO MATTER HOW HARD THE GAS/BRAKE IS PRESSED. IT HAS BEEN TAKEN TO THE DEALERSHIP I PURCHASED IT FROM TWICE NOW, AND BOTH TIMES THEY HAVE TOLD ME THEY CANNOT FIND ANYTHING WRONG WITH THE CAR, NO CODES OR ANYTHING. I DO NOT FEEL SAFE IN A CAR I’M PAYING $402 A MONTH FOR. I HAVE CONTACTED KIA CORPORATE IN ATLANTA AND OPENED A CASE WITH KIA CONSUMER ASSISTANCE ONLINE. WAITING RESPONSE FROM BOTH. WILL NOT BUY ANOTHER KIA AFTER I LEMON LAW THIS CAR.
Problems with the Exterior Lighting
Rounding out the list is the trouble stemming from a terrible exterior lighting design.
Here’s another NHTSA review. “Rear turn signals of the vehicle are below the lowest point of the lift gate, are mounted inside the bumper, and are recessed in the bumper. When turn signals are used, only the turn blinkers in the bumper blink while the traditional rear brake lamps are solid and do not indicate a turn. The turn signals are too low for following vehicles to see and because they are recessed, the housing gets packed with snow, slush and dirt, making the activated signals indistinguishable.”
Again, this isn’t the only issue with this system. Service Bulletin #TSB_ELE148 states that some of the halogen head lamp bulb connectors need to be replaced with an updated part because of defects. Not that it matters much to begin with, because the company put the lighting in places that can’t be seen anyway.
Here are some actual complaints logged with the NHTSA about the 2019 Kia Sportage Exterior Lighting Problems:
DRIVING HOME NIGHT 9/4/19, NOTICED HEADLIGHTS HAVE PARTIAL OBSTRUCTION WITH SHADOW ON HORIZON MAKING IT DIFFICULT TO RECOGNIZE ANY OBJECTS IN THE SHADOW AREA. IF YOU TURN THE CAR OR TAKE A BEND IN THE ROAD OR DRIVE DOWN OR UP HILL THE DISTRACTION BECOMES A VERY BAD PROBLEM AS THE SHADOW CHANGES IN SIZE OR MOVES…MOSTLY ON LOW BEAMS BUT IS ALSO ON HIGH BEAMS BUT NOT AS NOTICEABLE.
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