2018 Kia Forte Problems and Top Complaints – Is Your Car A Lemon?

Vehicle speed control, powertrain and engine issues among the top complaints received by the NHTSA from vehicle owners

While examining various compact cars on the market, it’s tough to ignore the 2018 Kia Forte. It features a stylish appeal and boasts of exceptional performance. Even the automaker claims, “Forte breaks the rules, so you can rule the road.” While it’s clear that this model breaks some rules, it’s not in the way any owner wants to deal with. This car suffers from a malfunctioning engine, defective powertrain and faulty vehicle speed control.

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Problems with the Engine

What’s the most important part of any new car? It could be argued that the engine is most critical above all other systems. For a car to be considered durable, it must contain a motor that’s functional and reliable. That’s not the case with the 2018 Kia Forte.

Just look at this NHTSA complaint. “I have had my brand new Kia Forte for 8 months starting in April. I currently have 16,581 miles on the car. About a month ago my ECO light came on by itself and there was no way to turn it off so I had to take it to the Kia where they unscrewed my battery and it went off. Now I am having problems with my car not wanting to turn on and after taking a trip to Auto Zone we found out that it was the crank shaft. I am having problems with a brand new car that I have only had for eight months. I was driving when my engine light came on so I became really concerned and that’s what forced me to have to go to Auto Zone to see why my engine light was on.”

When the AutoZone employees know more about what’s going on with a car than Kia technicians, there is something seriously wrong. It could also be that Kia simply doesn’t want to deal with the problem. It appears that they have other engine issues on their plate. Service Bulletin #PS067_R1 discusses how some engines were placed in vehicles without the proper steel sealing balls in place. How does an engine leave the production plant without the right components installed? Is it part of the company’s “breaking the rules” tactic?

Here are some actual complaints logged with the NHTSA about the 2018 Kia Forte Engine Problems:

TL* THE CONTACT OWNS A 2018 KIA FORTE. WHILE DRIVING, THE CHECK ENGINE INDICATOR ILLUMINATED AND THE VEHICLE STALLED. THE VEHICLE WAS TAKEN TO POMONA KIA WHERE IT WAS DIAGNOSED THAT THERE WERE METAL SHAVINGS IN THE ENGINE. THE VEHICLE WAS NOT REPAIRED. THE MANUFACTURER WAS CONTACTED AND PROVIDED CASE NUMBER: 13235167. THE FAILURE MILEAGE WAS 34,000.

Problems with the Transmission

Another vital part of any vehicle is the powertrain. One of the main components of this system is the transmission, which clearly has problems in the Forte as well.

This NHTSA user says, “This problem happened 2 times this week and on 2 separate days while I was driving and since I only drive this car once or twice a week, this has me concerned. The car started ok and drove for a couple of miles just fine when suddenly the car felt like I was trying to drive while the car was in neutral and even with my foot was on the gas pedal the car wasn’t going anywhere. I pulled off the road to get out of the flow of traffic and tried to put the shift lever in a different gear but it was stuck in Drive even when my foot was firmly on the brake pedal, so I tried to jiggle it a little from left to right but the shift lever wouldn’t really move so I just sat there. After a few minutes I made an attempt to safely pull out into traffic and the car hesitated a little but then drove fine. When this happened the first time this week I ignored it and treated it as a one time only issue, but then it happened a second time so I got concerned and made an appointment with [dealer] to have this checked out.”

It appears that Kia also has several transmission concerns. Service Bulletin #TSBTRA078 talks about the need for a TCU update whenever the Dual Clutch Transmission Assembly, Double Clutch Set or Transmission Control Unit is replaced. This is done to prevent shift shock, which shouldn’t be a concern on new vehicles. It’s going to be hard for this model to rule the road if it can’t even pull out in traffic effectively.

Here are some actual complaints logged with the NHTSA about the 2018 Kia Forte Powertrain Problems:

I’VE HAD MY CAR SINCE 38 MILES. THIS IS MY SECOND YEAR OWNING IT. IT HAS BEEN WELL KEPT AND IT STARTED HAVING PROBLEMS ABOUT A MONTH AGO THAT HAS GOTTEN WORSE. IT SHAKES REALLY BAD AT 30MPH AND STAYS IN 6TH GEAR. IT ALSO HAS MAJOR PROBLEMS PICKING UP SPEED AND SHIFTING IN GENERAL. SOMETIMES IT JUST STALLS AND DONT GO. WHEN SWITCHING LANES ON THE INTERSTATE IT SLOWS WAY DOWN AND DOESN’T SHIFT. IT DOESN’T MATTER MY SPEED. FROM 10-50MPH AND UP IT SKIPS GEARS AND STALLS.

Problems with the Vehicle Speed Control

Finally, it’s time to look at the vehicle speed control of this car. If this system malfunctions, danger awaits and that’s precisely what the customers claim is happening.

One NHTSA review states, “Vehicle was in my driveway, had to move car forward to get into my trunk as I was only going a few feet I got into car leaving door partial open with my left leg hanging out. As I started the car it instantaneously surged forward 10 to 12 feet into my garage, pinning my leg between the door and the rocker panel. After coming to a stop running into a cabinet in the garage, I slammed the car in reverse backing out of garage. After getting out of car I could see that my foot had been severely cut wide open. Shortly after my daughter drove me to the hospital to emergency care where I received 14 stitches on top of foot. Have been able to return to work for two weeks since 9/16/19 and may be another two to three weeks before able to return to work.”

There aren’t any manufacturer communications regarding the speed control, but there are many other complaints. Some of them even discuss the gas pedal getting stuck, forcing the car to continue moving forward. It appears if the Forte can’t rule the road by being a reliable vehicle, it is going to forcefully take action and run people over instead.

Here are some actual complaints logged with the NHTSA about the 2018 Kia Forte Cruise Control Problems:

TL* THE CONTACT OWNS A 2018 KIA FORTE. WHILE DEPRESSING THE ACCELERATOR PEDAL, THE PEDAL FAILED TO RELEASE AND BECAME STUCK. THE VEHICLE WAS NOT TAKEN TO A DEALER FOR DIAGNOSTIC TESTING OR REPAIRS. THE MANUFACTURER WAS NOT NOTIFIED OF THE FAILURE. THE APPROXIMATE FAILURE MILEAGE WAS 1,462.

Your Lemon Law Legal Rights

Think you have a lemon? Sit back and let the experts work aid your lemon at no cost to you. The law makes Kia pay legal fees. You may be able to get your lemon out of your life. Every year, auto manufacturers buy back, replace or pay cash settlements to thousands of ‘lemon’ owners like you.

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About the Author:

Brian Jones spent more than 20 years working as an ASE Certified Master Tech and Parts Specialist at multiple dealerships. Brian has become an authority in the industry, traveling across the country to consult for car dealerships and contributing his expertise as a writer for several major automotive publications. In his spare time, Brian enjoys working on pickup trucks, muscle cars, Jeeps and anything related to motorsports.

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1 COMMENT
  • Shauntel

    I have had my 2018 for two years now , I am the only owner and just recently I’ve had issues with my low beam head lights, my car slowly speeds up when switching lanes etc

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