2019 Kia Forte Problems and Top Complaints – Is Your Car A Lemon?

Headlights, collision warning system and powertrain issues among the top complaints received by the NHTSA from vehicle owners

Updated on Author: Brian Jones

Are you experiencing issues with the transmission of this vehicle? You may be eligible to join a class action suit against the automakers. Find out if you are eligible to join our investigation.

Today’s consumer wants an affordable compact car with all the amenities, which is what many people thought they had found in the 2019 Kia Forte. After all, the automaker boasts that it is “Your road. Your rules.” The trouble is that most owners don’t think that’s accurate, especially when dealing with a defective powertrain, faulty electrical system and other complaints.

Click on other model years to view more problems: 2020   2021   2022   2023

Problems with the Transmission

Even when a vehicle features a lower price tag, it should still come with a reliable powertrain. That’s not the case with the 2019 Kia Forte. In fact, it seems that the automaker might have skipped some steps when producing these models.

One NHTSA complaint says, “I have a 2019 Kia Forte that just a few weeks after I purchase it left me stranded because it wouldn’t crank. Now my transmission is out and I had a horrifying experience trying to drive home after my grandma passed away. My family lives 2-1/2 hours away. Then the service department verbally assaulted me while I was trying to receive help. I was on the interstate when the transmission started going out. I was nearly hit several times as the car would slow down and not shift gears.”

It seems this transmission has several malfunctions. Service Bulletin #TSBTRA080 talks about how the IVT assembly requires replacement in some vehicles because it is throwing codes it shouldn’t. In this case, it’s clear to see who makes the rules and it isn’t the Kia engineers.

2019 Kia Forte Complaint Summary

Complaint CategoryNumber of Complaints
Power Train
Unknown Or Other
Electrical System
Forward Collision Avoidance: Warnings
Exterior Lighting
Forward Collision Avoidance: Automatic Emergency Braking
Vehicle Speed Control
Air Bags

Problems with the Electrical System

If the engine of a vehicle is like the heart, then it’s the electrical system that acts as the nervous system. It sends signals throughout the entire car to make sure everything is running smoothly. That is, of course, unless there is a problem.

One such problem was documented with the NHTSA and states, “The contact owns a 2019 Kia Forte. The contact noticed that the soy based wiring attracted rodents, which chewed the wires and caused the electrical components to short out. The vehicle was taken to [dealer] where it was determined that the vehicle was not covered by the factory or extended warranties. The contact stated that the technician replaced the downstream oxygen and transmission output sensors, which was a one time repair. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure and did not assist. The failure mileage was approximately 2,200.”

What could be worse than rats eating through the new car wiring? Not much. Except, take a look at Service Bulletin #TSBELE183 that talks about the Integrated Body Control Unit and how it produces improper trunk operation. It also seems to drain the battery, unless the repair is performed. Between tasty electrical wires and trunks that don’t work correctly, this car doesn’t seem to care about the owner’s rules at all.

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Problems with the Vehicle Speed Control

With cruise control, it’s possible to maintain any speed the driver wants, unless the system is faulty. That’s exactly what we see happening with the 2019 Forte.

Just look at another NHTSA review. “The cruise control won’t hold me on the speed I set the cruise on. If I set it on 55, I look down, I’m up to 70 miles.”

Apparently, Kia believes that owners need to get to their destination faster than what they think. There aren’t any service bulletins discussing this problem, mainly because the corporate team doesn’t want anyone to know there is a problem. Still, if this car was operating on the driver’s rules, one would think it would take into consideration the speed they would want to travel.

Problems with the Headlights

When driving down the road at night, it is imperative that the lighting works as it should. Otherwise, danger is inevitable. That’s exactly what we see with this Kia.

One NHTSA complaint states, “The contact owns a 2019 Kia Forte. While driving approximately 20 mph at night, the headlights were very dim and the contact did not see an animal in the road. To avoid the animal, the contact veered off the road and crashed into a ditch. The frontal air bags did not deploy. There were no injuries and a police report was not filed. The vehicle was towed to the contact’s residence. The vehicle was not diagnosed or repaired. The dealer and manufacturer were not notified of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 16,000.”

It turns out there is a severe problem with the exterior lighting on the Forte. In fact, a recall has been issued. NHTSA Campaign Number 18V771000 states that the low beam aiming is incorrect on over 1,000 vehicles. If the headlights don’t get aimed correctly, the driver might have reduced visibility as shown in the above statement. But, it isn’t just the aiming that the manufacturer is fixing. The repair calls for all-new headlights. That suggests that something larger is going on and the company doesn’t want anyone to know. It might be the owners road, but they aren’t able to see it at night.

Problems with the Air Bags

Air bags are intended to keep the driver and occupants safe inside the vehicle, when everything is operational. Yet, in the Forte, this is just one more system that doesn’t seem to be constructed correctly.

One more NHTSA complaint says, “The driver of the vehicle had front impact damage at 40 mph and hit the side of another car. The entire front end including the steel frame was bent in but no airbags deployed.”

While it is unclear if any injuries were reported as a result of this accident, it’s clear to see how dangerous this fault truly is. Just like the statement about the headlights, the air bag failed to deploy when it was needed the most. Does this sound like a well-constructed car or something that was merely slammed together and sent to people’s homes? Unsuspecting owners are driving these vehicles unaware of the present dangers. Most people that have driven one know that this car doesn’t truly care about the road or the rules.

Your Lemon Law Legal Rights

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.

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
  • Hubert P

    My 19 Forte Type S trans went out at 67k. Was replaced under warranty. But now I’m concerned should I keep the car? Has about 2k miles on the new trans as of now without any known issues. Have anyone noticed that when using Cruise Control that your RPM’s go up about 1k. Like how is that good for fuel mileage?

  • Donna F

    I have a 2019 Kia Forte S. I have already had to have to transmissions replaced. Today while driving the car, experienced the same conditions as when the transmission went out the previous two times, shaking, RPMs Hi with acceleration with car gaining no momentum. My car stopped alongside the road and had to be pushed out of the main flow of traffic. When I had my car towed to the dealership they told me my piston was in my oil pan. They said they were not sure why it happened, but it was not covered under warranty. The oil was changed routinely on the car and now they’re telling me it will be about 11,000 to have my engine replaced

  • Bethany C

    I have a 2019 kia forte. The rpms were going erratic and my car died twice within 5 mins. My front collision light will come on randomly while I’m driving. There’s nothing blocking it, I’ve checked multiple times. The radio starts to sound like a CD that’s skipping and then shuts off. I had it towed to a shop and their diagnostic test said its a dealership specific transmission code. It’s now sitting in a kia dealership now and they don’t have an appt until December 15th. The woman I originally spoke to at the dealership said their diagnostic test is $150. Another employee called me the next day and asked for more info then tells me its going to be a $300 diagnostic test because they have to dig deeper into the car with the specific issues that its having. My car has less than 45k miles on it. Ridiculous.

  • Adam F

    My 2019 Kia Forte has 59000 miles on it. The transmission light is on and the car has issues with accelerating

  • Samantha

    2019 Kia Forte LXS 53,000miles. In November 2020 I noticed my car reving high while using cruise control no matter what drive mode (normal, sport, or smart) Contacted Kia took my car in they said they couldn’t get it to replicate what I was talking about. A month later I need a oil change car is still reving high while cruise control is in use. Get an oil change they say again they couldn’t get it to Rev high. I go driving with the service manager he says it doesn’t seem right I’d have to make another appointment to bring it back in. It could be a couple hours could be a couple days or even a week depending on the tech line. Because of Covid they weren’t giving out rentals. I go on vacation and drop my car off for 4 days came back to pick it up and find out that my invoice sat on the Tech service managers desk for all of those days and not one person touched my car. The service guy apologized to me and told me I would have to make an appointment again. April 2021 need an oil change and request that they look into the issue. They had my car for a 2 days claim that they couldn’t get it to do replicate what I was explaining. At this point I give up. Whatever I’ll just keep making payments on a car that I can’t use cruise control on. November 2021 my lease is up and I decide to buy out my car instead of leasing again I tell the guy about the reving issue he gets a hold of service they call me set me up with a rental they take my car everything seems wonderful. They call me the next day tell me that Kia techline has approved a brand new transmission to be put in but is on back order so it wouldn’t be ready till late November. They finished the car 3days earlier then they told me they would even have the transmission. Great! Get there return the rental, get my car the next day I go to use cruise control it revs up to 3000rpms right away when I set the cruise. I call Kia in the morning make another appointment they put me in another rental and Kia has now had my car for 49days and in at least the last 32 days my car has not moved one inch, not been started or driven a mile. I have talked to every service person, techs, GMs, supervisors. I am at a loss on what to do.

  • dominick

    My 2019 Kia Forte with 45000 miles is running flawlessly and I get on it like it has vtec everyday on my 100mile commute. I did my research before I bought the car and found that the automatic was big gamble. that wasn’t a big deal to me because I never bought a automatic in my life because that’s all I ever heard that needed a rebuild or replacement and seams to be a trend with all auto makers and there boner for mpg/cvt what’s the point of saving money on gas if you need a new transmission every 5000 miles

  • Jake M

    I have a 2019 Kia Forte at 37,000 miles and noticed odd revving when I was driving yesterday and just assumed it was the road being bad. Just went out at night to DD for someone and the revving was getting worse on cruise control so I turned that off. As I turned onto my exit the cars rpms shot up at even the slightest touch of the gas pedal but wouldn’t even accelerate correctly to it and barely made it to my house. Thank god I ship out to basic in 4 days so I don’t have to deal with this problem anymore. I loved my 2017 Forte and had no problems with it, and two years with this one has been fine until now. Seeing this happen at this low of a mileage is a joke.

  • Robecca S

    2019 Kia Forte , radio/ front collision will freeze up or shut down all together. Every time I have the dealership look at it they say that they can find anything wrong with it. I’ve had it not shut off twice now and run the battery down

  • Jeff f

    I have a 2019 kia forte at 40,000 miles the transmission went out an dealership don’t want to stand behind it. So whats up kia

  • Bryant B

    My 2019 Kia Forte was in the parking lot idling for 5to 10 min -it suddenly it starts to back up.It was dark outside….when I realized it was My car I thought someone was stealing it. .it literally turned itself in reverse. .and I couldn’t catch it in time ,it came to a stop after going up an embankment and scraping against a pole

  • Wendy

    I have a 2019 Kia Forte LXS that I bought on July 9, 2020 and I totalled it on August 13, 2020 with 22800 miles on it. I was driving 55 mph when the traffic in front of me stopped suddenly and when I tried to stop my car just kept going it was like I wasnt even hitting the brakes. I finally stopped after hitting the vehicle in front of me at 55 mph. All my airbags deployed except for the driver side, side airbag. The motor shoved the dash and everything back in on my legs and hands, broke the steering column. I was blamed to be at fault cause I was the car that rear ended the other but I tried stopping and I was 3 or more car lengths away when I started braking. My forward collision was going off but I couldn’t get the car kept going.

  • Ricardo

    I have a 2019 Kia Forte and I’m have problems as well, I was leave a red light and started to move then the car wouldn’t go fast even by me giving it more gas, then it kick in. And my front collation alerts keeps going off when I’m driving. Then my radio went dark. Taking it to dealer this start around 25,000 miles for me

  • meghan

    I have a a2019 kia forte and i have had mine in the shop numerious time. My radio keeps freezing or it will not come on at all. I have had my forward collision light come on and lose all power to the car. I have turned on the heat and smelled burning wires even people in the car have noticed it as well.

  • K H

    I bought my 2019 Kia Forte in Dec 2018. I am just under 7,500 miles. I noticed in February 2020 around 7,000 miles that the car was starting to change RPMs abruptly under light acceleration. It gradually got worse but it was still drivable. I am just lucky that I don’t take this car on long trips otherwise it would have likely left me stranded. I am now in for my second oil change and being told that the transmission needs to be replaced. When is Kia going to recall these garbage IVT transmissions they manufactured?

  • Faith T

    I bought a 2019 Kia Forte on June 16th 2019 less than one month after the sudden passing of my boyfriend.

    Today February 22nd 2020 at 13,200 miles I was on I-5 the 11th largest interstate in the United States, my car broke down and was stuck in 5th gear.

    It was shaking and was having troubles accelerating. I was in the far left carpool lane when this was happening and had to merge all the way the the shoulder on the right side to safely see what was going on.

    I turned my vehicle off and back on and checked for any noticeable issues that I could as a 21 year old female on the side of the busiest interstate in Washington State. Everything appeared okay however I was still 20 miles from home.

    When I started my vehicle again I was shocked it would barely accelerate and anytime I surpassed 2nd gear it was grinding and shaking. I was able to get the car home in one piece. I don’t understand Kia’s claim for safety. I have extreme PTSD due to my previous accidents and my boyfriends death and I never would have purchased this car if I knew all the issues going on with it.

  • Vincent G

    We have a 2019 kia forte low mileage. Transmission went out! I noticed many more in same boat for exact problem. My car has been at kia almost 1 month with part on back order

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