This article was written by Brian Jones, ASE Certified Master Tech and Lemberg Law Automotive Contributor
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Problems with the Engine
No one expects the engine in the 2020 Kia Soul to be exceptionally powerful. After all, this isn’t a sports car, but customers do have a reasonable expectation that the engine is safe. Sadly, that’s clearly not the case.
Just look at this complaint filed with the NHTSA. “The contact owned a 2020 Kia Soul. While driving at 70 mph, the vehicle stalled as the Engine Warning Light illuminated and the vehicle was merged to the side of the road. When the contact attempted to restart the vehicle, the engine caught on fire. The fire department extinguished the fire. A police report was filed. No injuries were sustained. The vehicle was towed to an impound yard. The vehicle was totaled. The contact mentioned that the failure occurred 10 days after the vehicle was purchased. The dealer was not contacted. The manufacturer was not made aware of the failure. The failure mileage was 600.”
There appears to be a bunch of engine issues with the Kia Soul. Even Service Bulletin #TSBENG203 talks about the need to update the ECU technology already because the logic isn’t quite right. The Soul is experiencing trouble with DTC P0606, which points specifically to the Engine Control Unit. In order to repair it, the software must be updated. Surely, this shouldn’t be occurring on brand new vehicles, and there’s no reasonable explanation why a new car would start on fire. The only thing “next-level” that owner experienced were higher insurance rates after the loss.
Problems with the Steering
Thankfully, the owner above was able to get the car off of the road with some precise steering, but this is another system that might fail.
One NHTSA review says, “Vehicle pulls sharply and abruptly to the right at speeds above 45-50. When I test drove the vehicle, I mentioned to the salesman that I thought it was pulling to the right, of course, he didn’t feel it, but would have it checked. After purchasing the vehicle in April, and owning it about 7 months, this problem is worse. I took it back to the dealership where purchased and was told this was normal due to the Lane Keeping Assist function. If this is the case, this is dangerous due to the fact that it is a very sharp turn and abrupt pull to the right, with no warning.”
Today’s driver-assist technology is designed to keep people safer on the road, not put them more in danger. Yet, Kia doesn’t seem to understand the concept. Aside from what the Lane Keep Assist caused in the above situation, the automaker also acknowledges other steering concerns. With Service Bulletin #TSBCHA084_R3, we see that the Motor-Driven Power Steering system is causing problems along with the Electronic Control Unit (ECU) and the Steering Column Housing. In fact, any of these three parts might require repair or replacement to function properly again. Maybe the 2020 Kia Soul believes it is an autonomous vehicle, attempting to take over control from the driver. Until appropriate repairs are made, it might be wise for other drivers to stay clear of the Soul while on the road. After all, no one wants to be a casualty caused by this “next-level versatility.”
Problems with the Transmission
As part of the powertrain, owners expect a reliable and smooth-shifting transmission under the hood. Without this, the car is uncomfortable and cumbersome to drive.
That’s exactly what is revealed through this Edmunds review. “We bought our 2020 soul brand new in November 2019. At exactly 626 miles (of very light easy driving) the transmission suffered catastrophic failure. We waited for another transmission to arrive from Korea and was our of our car for 2 months. When we picked the car up, the dealer assured us it was a fluke, however I learned that this is nothing new. Kia used the same CVT transmission in the 2019 Forte, and suffered nothing but problems. After much research, I have learned that the CVT transmission has destroyed a bunch of major car brands reputation, mostly Nissan amongst others. A CVT transmission is one that lacks the gears of previous types, is supposed to offer better fuel economy but is unfortunately a new untested type for most manufacturers.”
The real reason automakers are installing a CVT transmission is to cut costs, but this particular model is putting drivers at risk of an accident. It doesn’t appear that only the automatic transmissions are causing problems with the 2020 Kia Soul. In fact, Service Bulletin #PS605 specifically discusses the trouble with manual transmissions as well. It states that customers are having trouble shifting into 1st gear due to a misadjusted shift/control cable. Without 1st gear, it becomes difficult to pull out and even begin driving. Maybe it’s better that way – less Kia Souls on the road that could lead to an accident.
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