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

Electrical, steering and engine issues among the top complaints received by the NHTSA from vehicle owners

Updated on Author: Brian Jones

Updated on Author: Brian Jones

Families in search of a reliable SUV regularly turn to the 2018 Kia Sorento. It’s spacious and provides the style that many consumers desire. Even the automaker claims that the newer models have “the power to perform.” While it appears this model features everything someone could hope for, there are some dark sides to this vehicle. From a faulty steering system to defective engine and glitchy electrical components, this SUV doesn’t live up to the hype and puts people in danger.

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NHTSA Complaints for the 2018 Kia Sorento

Complaint CategoryNumber of Complaints
Exterior Lighting
Unknown Or Other
Electrical System
Air Bags
Trailer Hitches
Fuel/propulsion System
Power Train

Problems with the Steering

One component that everyone takes for granted is the steering system. Consumers know that most vehicles steer the way that the automaker intended and there’s minimal discussion about it unless something goes wrong as with the Sorento.

One Edmunds review illustrates trouble with the steering. It states, “I have noticed that while driving over 50 MPH on a hi way I’ll be going straight and move the steering wheel a millimeter and it jumps left or right. This startles me and I almost jerk the wheel too hard to regain control. I read where someone posted that Kia has had this problem for years and won’t fix it because it’s not a life threatening problem. Ha HaI almost jerked the wheel out of control. It’s very annoying when you can’t relax your hand on the steering wheel without it jumping right to left. Ask drivers of Kia what they think, or better yet test drive one on the freeway at 65 mph.”

Sadly, this isn’t the most concerning steering issue with the Kia Sorento. In fact, the automaker issued a recall labeled NHTSA Campaign Number 18V656000. It turns out that the steering column can separate while driving, leading to an increased risk of an accident. Why would the steering column disconnect? Because the company improperly welded the cowl crossbar connecting the Motor-Driven Power Steering column. While watching steering wheels come detached is fun in cartoons, it’s not so exciting in real life.

Problems with the Engine

Since the Sorento claims to have all of the power, it makes sense to examine the engine as well. It’s clear that this Kia SUV suffers from numerous motor problems, making it dangerous to drive.

One NHTSA complaint states, “Engine completely lost power and shut down on the highway and when restarted, went into limp mode. Now engine needs replaced and no engines are available. My car has a mobility device installed to accommodate my missing right leg and any rental vehicle is difficult to use since I have to remove my prosthetic leg to drive it. I need a vehicle fitted to accommodate my disability and don’t know when or if I’ll be getting mine back.”

It turns out that the Sorento suffers from major engine malfunctions. The automaker released Service Bulletin #VPI1802WX_TSB_R3 discussing why the engines need to be replaced. It turns out they previously attempted to skirt around the engine troubles by installing a Knock Sensor Detection System in consumers’ vehicles that would reduce the wear, but it didn’t work. In fact, some owners complained that it made the engine troubles worse. Now they have to repair so many engines that they can’t keep up. This model is the poster child for a lemon car.

Problems with the Electrical System

If those problems aren’t enough, a quick look at the electrical system might be enough to prove how defective this model can be.

Another NHTSA complaint says, “The contact owns a 2018 Kia Sorento. The contact stated that the vent control functions failed to work properly when needing to use the heater. In addition, the headlamps failed to illuminate as the contact was informed by a passerby on the roadway. The dealer was notified of the failures and the contact was waiting for a response to schedule an appointment to service the vehicle. The manufacturer was notified. The contact would like the dealer to buy back the vehicle if there is no remedy. The failure mileage was not available.

Believe it or not, the automaker is facing multiple electrical concerns. Service Bulletin #PS541 talks about an inoperative shift lock release or ignition while in accessory mode. Because of this malfunction, owners aren’t able to release the key or turn on the car once the key is placed in accessory mode. Those with smart keys, also face the Shift to Park message illuminating even though the vehicle is already in Park. Considering the definition of perform is “to carry out or accomplish” it’s clear that Kia has some work to do before claiming that this model has “the power to perform.” It seems all they have is the power to fail and cause destruction.

What to do if your 2018 Kia Sorento is a Lemon?

Think you have a lemon? Sit back and let the experts work out your lemon case 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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Brian Jones

About the Author:

Brian Jones spent more than 30 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.

See more posts from Brian Jones
  • Kenneth T

    My Kia Sorento 2018 4 cylinder GDI, 2 piston is blown; detected by the KIA dealership. I purchased it with 13,000 miles. Now they say it has 79.000. It is not covered under the warranty. I purchased a second warranty and it only covered 75,000 miles. I’m now stuck with 12.000 owned on the vehicle. I don’t know how I could have possibly paid over 2,000 extra for a warranty that only cover 15,000 miles more.

  • Kelly

    My 2015 Kia optima has been out of commission needing an engine since February after buying the car in November 2022. It only has 49000 miles and it didn’t even come due for an oil change before it went out. Kia won’t fix it because they said the KSDS wasn’t done but when I asked how I was supposed to know that they said I would have had to call the manufacturer and specifically ask. Nobody does this and that’s very shady on Kias part. I will never do business with Kia again. And they will fix my engine because I’m taking my story and the rudeness of the Kia agents to the news.

  • Justin e

    Car burns oil religiously. Now it’s in the shop with a check engine light and guess I’ll hear later today what problems are but it’s the engine for sure.

  • Andrew O

    I purchased the 2018 Sorento with a theta 2 engine through carvana claiming all recall and factory work had been done prior to purchase. Fast forward to now at 110k miles needing an engine replacement due to cracked piston. I’m however being denied factory warranty replacement because the ksds update wasn’t performed before my purchase. dealership quotes me 9000$ for the work like I’ve got that laying around.

  • Sonia

    My car start burning oil

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