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

Steering and brake issues among the top complaints received by the NHTSA from vehicle owners

Updated on Author: Brian Jones

Smaller cars are popular with drivers in urban settings or when saving fuel is essential. One top choice has been the 2019 Kia Rio. It seems like a practical option, considering the automaker claims, “small can do big things,” when discussing the newer models. Our research shows that this model does do big things – in terms of failure. It suffers from a defective steering system, faulty air bags and malfunctioning service brakes.

Click on other model year to view more problems: 2020   2021

Problems with the Steering?

When navigating city roads, it’s essential that owners have complete control over the vehicle. Otherwise, it becomes very easy to hit someone or another object. That’s what is happening with the 2019 Kia Rio.

One Cars.com review states, “Nice car until you drive on windy day. The car is all over the road while on the interstate when it’s windy. Scary to drive.”

Sadly, this isn’t the only comment that talks about how difficult it is to keep on the road. Plus, the automaker has discovered issues with the steering system. Service Bulletin #TSBCHA084_R4 goes through an entire flow chart of steering problems that could be noticed. Problems range from failure with the motor-driven power steering motor to trouble with the electronic control unit. Either way, owners need to work on building up their muscles just to keep this compact car on the road.

2019 Kia Rio Complaint Summary

Complaint CategoryNumber of Complaints
Unknown Or Other
Air Bags
Electrical System
Electronic Stability Control
Power Train
Service Brakes
Vehicle Speed Control

Problems with the Air Bags?

Air bags have been standard in vehicles for several decades and shouldn’t need to be tweaked any longer. Yet, Kia is struggling to get this basic system working on the Rio.

Read this NHTSA complaint. “The contact owned a 2019 Kia Rio. While driving 35 mph in the right lane, another vehicle turned from the center lane and crashed head on into the contact’s vehicle. The air bag failed to deploy. As a result, the contact sustained neck, shoulder, right foot, and left knee injuries that required medical attention. A police report was filed. The vehicle was towed to a tow lot and deemed destroyed. The contact called [dealership] and informed them of the crash and air bag failure. The manufacturer was notified of the failure and provided [case number]. The cause of the failure was not determined. The approximate failure mileage was 102.”

None one wishes to have a totaled vehicle with only 102 miles on the odometer, but that’s precisely the occurrence listed above. While Kia isn’t willing to talk about major air bags issues, there is one communication. Service Bulletin #PS645 only discusses how there is an air bag crash pad surface imprint that cannot be eliminated and part of the design. If the company can’t get simple things right, how can anyone expect the intricate aspects of the vehicle to work?

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Problems with the Brakes?

Another vital safety feature that continues to fail in the Kia Rio is the service brakes. Again, with such a basic system in place, there’s no reason for the trouble.

Yet, here is one NHTSA review that states otherwise. “I was driving on a city street when I approached a green light, it turned yellow. I mash down on my brake, it engaged for a couple of seconds and it gave on me and I could not get the brake to engage again. I could not stop for the light and was involved in an accident.”

Hopefully, the air bags worked for this customer. Otherwise, there are multiple issues that needed to be addressed. However, no driver should ever have to worry about the brakes, or any other safety system working as it is designed. Unfortunately, Kia has no communications related to the service brakes. Maybe they expect customers to be like Fred Flintstone and stop the car with their feet instead.

Is your 2019 Kia Rio 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.

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
  • William E

    I live in Oklahoma. Here anything under 20MPH winds are considered a calm day. I just drove 142 miles in my 2019 Kia Rio Sport with a forward quartering head wind of about 15MPH. Eighty miles an hour and no issues with control. All Kia’s seem to have very tight steering and if the driver is not familiar they tend to over correct for minor wobbles.

  • Shawnette C

    I just purchased Kia Rio 5 2 months ago…Dince then been in and out of repair shop for slow acceleration…. Jerkiness and poor Slow acceleration….I need big help addressing this issue

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