2020 Kia Telluride Problems Summary

Our data shows that exterior lighting and visibility/wiper issues are among the top complaints received by the NHTSA from vehicle owners

Updated on Author: Brian Jones | Reviewer: Sergei Lemberg

Did your windshield crack unexpectedly? Find out if you are eligible for compensation.

The 2020 Kia Telluride was the first year for the model. It came with a lot of hype and excitement as drivers sought to find a lower-cost SUV filled with many luxury features. The company boasted that this model is “Made for Adventures.” After some time in the market, it didn’t take long to realize that the adventures Kia was referring to weren’t the ones some owners wanted to have. They are complaining that high beam malfunctions limit visibility at night, windshields crack and sunroofs are faulty or explode any time of the day, and engines fail.

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

Most Common Problems

Complaints to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) about the 2020 Kia Telluride paint a picture of a vehicle that has dangerous faults and malfunctions. By mid-2024, there were six recalls for this first model year (MY) Kia SUV, and 454 complaints to the NHTSA alone.

One of the major problems facing owners relates to windshields that crack for no reason — an issue that Lemberg Law has been investigating. Also, there are many complaints that sunroofs are defective, and they have a tendency to explode. Another major issue is that high-beam headlights tend to fail. High oil consumption that can lead to engine failure is another big problem.

About 36% of the complaints lodged with the NHTSA relate to exterior lighting — most because of malfunctioning headlights. More than 30% more are listed as visibility-related problems, many of which are due to spontaneous windshield cracks. Problems reported as being unknown or other (15% of the total), that aren’t linked to other components, relate largely to windshields and sunroofs, but also to high beam headlight problems.

Electrical system, engine, and powertrain complaints are also relatively substantial. Other components and systems that are reportedly problematic include airbags, backover prevention, brakes (including service, hydraulic, and parking brakes) forward collision avoidance, fuel/propulsion system, lane departure, latches/locks/linkages, seats and child seats, seat belts, steering, structure, suspension, trailer hitches, vehicle speed control, and wheels.

An investigation into the “complete loss of high beams,” was initiated in January 2023 and closed in April 2024. The closure appears to be primarily due to the launch of NHTSA Campaign Number 24V148000 on February 26, 2024, a recall warning that high-beam headlights may fail.

Additionally, there are six recalls that affect 2020 Telluride vehicles.


Two of the recalls are urgent, due to them being a fire risk for nearly half a million Kia Telluride vehicles. One is seat-related and the other is due to faulty trailer hitches.

Urgent Recalls Warning of Fire-Risk When Parked

The first urgent fire recall was announced by Kia Motors America on August 15, 2022. It warns that  36,417 2020-2022 Telluride vehicles equipped with genuine Kia 4-pin tow hitch harnesses installed as original equipment, or purchased as an accessory through Kia dealerships are affected. Debris and moisture accumulation on the tow hitch harness module printed circuit board can cause an electrical short, which can result in a fire.

The second, most recent recall dated June 5, 2024, warns that nearly half a million (462,869) 2020-2024 Telluride vehicles have front power-seat motors that may overheat. This is because of “a stuck power seat slide knob, which can result in a fire while parked or driving.”

Other Recalls

The very first recall imposed on the 2020 Telluride was because of 30,138 seat belt assemblies that were incorrectly installed. These were part of the child restraint system in the vehicles — and if the child seat isn’t properly secured, there is an increased risk of occupants being injured.

The second, dated July 28, 2020. warns that inoperative trailer brake lights can fail to warn other drivers that the Telluride is slowing down, increasing the risk of a crash. A total number of 86,921 2020 Telluride vehicles equipped with Smart Cruise Control (SCC) are affected. When a trailer is connected to the vehicle, the trailer brake lights won’t illuminate when the SCC applies the brakes.

The high-beam headlight recall mentioned above warns that 35,031 2020 Telluride vehicles have high-beam headlights that may fail. This also increases the risk of the SUV crashing.

A recall dated March 20, 2024 warns that as many as 427,407 2020-2024 Telluride vehicles are in danger of roll-away when the driveshaft is disengaged and in Park.

Windshields That Cracking

Complaints about windshields cracking have been building up since 2019. An owner from Oklahoma stated that about a week after buying a new 2020 Telluride, the “windshield broke from a small rock while driving 35 mph today from a passing car.” The complaint mentions knowledge of hundreds of other customers having the same issue with these inferior windshields.

In November 2019, an owner from New Mexico told how “a very small rock hit the edge of my windshield, and it cracked to be over a foot long across the next 5 minutes. The mark from the rock is tiny, and should not have led to this large of a crack so quickly. I have heard repeatedly that this is common on Telluride windshields. It is unacceptable and very unsafe.” This owner had only had the vehicle for five days.

An owner from Texas states in a complaint that “the windshield cracked on day 1 before even taking delivery of (the) car. Not a safe windshield to drive with.”

The front windshield cracked without warning in March 2021, an owner from Pennsylvania states. It was repaired, but the failure recurred three times.

“Only had our car (for) 10 days,” says an owner from Alabama. “A rock popped up and hit the windshield. I have owned many cars and (have) not had this happen. Within 10 mins of the sun, it spread across (the) entire windshield.”

An owner from New Hampshire stated that he’d had to wait for days to be able to order a new windshield after it cracked. The complaint states that not only had they not been able to provide a new windshield, but it would not be covered by the warranty as they initially promised.

High Beam Headlight

There are a huge number of complaints about high beams quitting working or causing poor visibility. Like the windshield issue, this has been an ongoing problem since 2019.

In November 2019, an owner from Florida complained that “the headlights at night are poor. They do not illuminate traffic signs such as speed limit, stop, street/highway info, yield, warning, etc. When you approach the upside of a hill, visibility is limited to 30-50 feet. Side vision when turning is non-existent. This occurs at night when in motion and stopped.”

A Californian owner describes the problem. “When the headlights are in normal mode (not high beam) on a street that does not have street lights (no ambient lights), or you are going around a turn, or you are going slightly uphill, there is very little visibility on the road. You can see a distinct cut-off of the headlight and you cannot see beyond it. This makes it very very difficult to drive in a low light environment. If I am on a highway or a well lit road, there is no issue.”

An owner from Vermont states, “It is my belief that the headlights (both high and low beam), as equipped, are dangerously deficient and do not provide nearly adequate illumination. I am hesitant to drive the vehicle at night.”

Some owners have taken steps to rectify the problem. An owner from Illinois states that in more than 30 years of driving, he has “never been so uncomfortable driving at night.” Because he found the headlights to be “seriously deficient and dangerous, especially during driving in low light areas during turns,” he bought LED bulbs. These “improved visibility ahead of me, including being, now, able to see the sides of the road. However, visibility during turns is (still) non-existent.”

Faulty Sunroofs

Most of the complaints about faulty sunroofs state that they are broken in some way, most commonly off track. For example, the owner of a 2020 Kia Telluride with 70,000 miles complains that the sunroof/moonroof is off the track and cannot close. “Kia refuses to cover under warranty despite (the) car being only three years old. Both social media and NHTSA have multiple complaints from other Kia Telluride owners.”

Another complaint states that “The wind deflector broke on one side. My sunroof won’t close. It is causing water damage and the amount to fix it is over 1k. After research, this problem has been reported numerous times but no recall yet.”

Then there are complaints from other owners telling how sunroofs have exploded.

An owner from California tells how the “sunroof exploded while driving. Nothing hit it. (We) heard a loud noise while driving, (and) thought it was a tire.” The Kia dealership inspected it but “don’t believe the fact that nothing hit it. The car has been there for 2 days with no answer.”

An owner from Illinois tells a chilling story. They were driving down a highway at approximately 60 mph, with no other vehicles around them. “There was a very loud bang. My 2 kids were in the middle two seats and started screaming and crying because of the loud noise and also because glass was falling on them. The loud bang turned out to be the panoramic moonroof exploding on its own.” The complaint also states that the moonroof “exploded outward and not inward.”

What Are You Rights?

If you think you might have bought a lemon, take comfort in the fact that every year, auto manufacturers buy back, replace, or pay cash settlements to thousands of ‘lemon’ owners. Furthermore, you can get a law firm like ours to work out your lemon law case at no cost to you. The law makes Kia pay all lemon law legal fees.

Fill out a contact form or call our Helpline and we’ll assess your case free of charge.

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

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