2020 Kia Rio Problems and Top Complaints – Is Your Car A Lemon?

Engine & brake issues among the top complaints received by the NHTSA from vehicle owners

By Brian Jones | Updated on

By Brian Jones | Updated on

The subcompact 2020 Kia Rio is meant to be a budget-friendly form of transportation that won’t disappoint. Newer models claim to offer “get up and go,” but customers are currently dealing with a faulty engine, defective powertrain and malfunctioning service brakes.

Click on other model year to view more problems: 2019   2021

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Problems with the Engine?

Even though drivers are saving a lot of money with the 2020 Kia Rio, no one expects the engine to be lagging, but that’s precisely what is found.

One NHTSA review says, “My Kia Rio 2020 had the check engine light come on today. The engine coolant temperature gauge went all the way to the hot mark. The car is one year old and has 60093 miles on it. The dealership refused to repair it under warranty. I called Kia corporate and was told the same thing. This is unacceptable. My expectation is that they will repair this issue for no cost. As all maintenance has been done at the dealership. I have not noticed any fluid leaks nor have I been told when at the dealership about any fluid loss.”

Sadly, there are a lot of engine problems with the little Rio. TSB_ENG222_R5 states that the Nu/Gamma/Theta/Kappa engines used by the company can all go through an excessive amount of oil. Additionally, there have been class action lawsuits because of engine fires. It appears that high exhaust gas temperatures have damaged the catalytic converter, causing improper engine combustion and permanent damage to the pistons. If the piston rod breaks, oil can leak out and a car fire can occur. It doesn’t matter how little is spent on a vehicle, no one wants to lose it in a spontaneous fire, but that’s what current customers face.

Problems with the Powertrain?

The powertrain doesn’t seem to provide much more reliability, clearly part of the Kia lineup filled with defects.

Another NHTSA complaint reads, “The contact owns a 2020 Kia Rio. The contact stated that he was a former service technician and that while driving and stopping at a stoplight, the traffic light turned green and the contact depressed the accelerator pedal however, the vehicle idled and stalled for a few seconds before inadvertently accelerating and crashing into the vehicle in front. The contact stated that the failure recurred intermittently on several occasions. The contact attempted to take the vehicle to the local dealer to be inspected however, the dealer was unable to inspect the vehicle for a month. The vehicle was not diagnosed nor repaired. The manufacturer was not made aware of the failure. The failure mileage was 41,714.”

Kia isn’t fooling anyone with this shoddy transmission. Even TSB_TRA097 states that the logic of the CVT needs to be updated because there are multiple codes being thrown due to the defects. Do the updates fix the problems or stop the codes from occurring so easily? One many never know the answer to that question, but it’s unlikely that Kia is investing a lot of money into the cheap Rio. By now, Kia is probably just hoping the Rio would disappear.

Problems with the Brakes?

Stopping the vehicle also seems to be causing problems because of defective brakes.

One NHTSA complaint says, “I called the dealership about my brake problem five days ago about the brakes going down to the floor almost. I was told by the service manager that was a safety issue so he gave me their roadside assistance number. Yobe picked up, they did on Friday morning 9/25/20. The car was delivered and the service manage said he would call me that day about the problem but I have not heard from him. I could only get a recording about making an appointment. I talked to the finance manager about the brakes causing a fire on other brand vehicles. He told me to wait for the service report. The car was moving. A friend also commented on the brakes also after the car went to a dealership. She checked on it and came up with the news report in Houston about the safety issue.”

It turns out that there’s a recall on the Kia Rio that affects the brake. NHTSA Campaign Number 21V936000 states that the brake master cylinder may have sharp edges on the inner oil seal, leading to damage. It can also create reduced braking performance and long brake pedal travel, which is exactly what the customer above was discussing. If the vehicle can’t stop in time, an accident is inevitable, leading people in a lot of danger. Maybe it’s time for Kia customers to make a stand. If they all started to “get up and go,” the automaker would surely take notice and change might finally occur.

Is your 2020 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.

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Lemberg Law is a consumer law firm helping victims of bad manufacturing and run-arounds from auto companies. We are ranked A+ by the BBB. Call our Helpline today!  There is no charge unless we win.


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Brian Jones

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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