2021 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

Updated on Author: Brian Jones

Introduced to the U.S. market in 2000, the Kia Rio was heralded as a low-cost vehicle that offered great reliability. The 2021 Rio is a fourth-generation vehicle.

There have been rumors that Kia plans to discontinue the Rio after the 2022 model. Some reports say this is due to falling sales. But who knows? After all, U.S. sales, at 31,362 units for the 2021 model, are higher than they’ve been since 2015. That model only sold 23,742 units, while the figures hit an all-time low in 2017, at 16,760.

Also, in general, the Kia Rio has had a fairly good reputation for reliability. However, as we have pointed out in previous articles about the 2019 and 2020 models, it has had its problems. In the past two years, these have manifested in malfunctioning brakes, faulty airbags, a defective steering system, and problematic engine, and powertrain.

Brakes, it seems, have been a problem since day 1. The very first complaint about the Kia Rio to the United States Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) about the Kia Rio was in May 2001. It states:

“Airbag light comes on (the) dashboard. Also, a warning light. Brake pedal goes all the way to the floor, and there are noises.”

Click on other model year to view more problems: 2019   2020

Most Common Problems

Once again, brakes head the list of complaints about the Kia Rio. There are also complaints about the engine and the fuel/propulsion system.

Additionally, there is a recall on this, and the 2020 model, for brake master cylinders of 87 vehicles to be replaced. The warning is that the brake master cylinder may have sharp edges that could damage the inner oil seal. If this happens, it will result in reduced braking performance which would increase the risk of a crash.

2021 Kia Rio Complaint Summary

Complaint CategoryNumber of Complaints
Unknown Or Other
Service Brakes
Power Train
Back Over Prevention: Sensing System: Camera
Electrical System
Fuel/propulsion System
Lane Departure: Assist
Lane Departure: Warning

Brake Problems

The first complaint about the 2021 Kia Rio is listed under the Service Brakes category.

It states that on July 23, 2021, “On the way to work, I had the brake pedal pressed waiting for a traffic signal to change. After it changed to green, I released the brake pedal and depressed the gas pedal, only for the vehicle not to move forward – as if the brake was still being applied. I took my foot off the gas pedal, waited a second or two, then tried the gas pedal again and it still did not move. I was at the traffic signal for nearly 10 seconds with nothing touching the brake pedal and unable to drive forward.

“The vehicle did not turn off, display any warning lights or any signs of other trouble. The parking brake was not applied and the vehicle was in Drive. After putting the vehicle in reverse and back into drive while still stopped at the traffic signal, the car resumed normal operation. The vehicle has less than 200 miles, bought brand new from the dealership a few days prior, and has only gone for a car wash at the dealership aside from normal daily commute. The problem has not been reported to the dealership or manufacturer at the time of this report.”

The second complaint describes how defective brakes caused a crash.

The “vehicle failed to reduce speed effectively while (I was) trying to avoid a collision with another vehicle during a left turn.” This “then caused the vehicle to turn widely and collide with the curb.”

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Problems with the Engine and Fuel System

One of the engine complaints states: “I was driving 60-70 miles an hour for 45 minutes then (the) car lost all acceleration and (the) engine light came on. I pulled over immediately and turned the car off. Turned it back on, drove 1/4 of a mile, and (the) same thing happened. I pulled over, turned (the) car off, and had it towed to the dealership.”

The other indicates a combined engine and fuel/propulsion system issue. “Vehicle has less than 4000 miles and (the) throttle body had to be replaced.”

What to do if your 2021 Kia Rio is a lemon? Your Lemon Rights

If there is something seriously wrong with your Kia Rio and the issue keeps recurring or the dealer cannot fix it, you might have a lemon on your hands. If you think this might be the case, don’t delay. Contact the Lemberg Law Helpline so that we can assess your problem and advise you.

We have been helping clients with lemon law car claims for years. Sometimes we can negotiate a cash settlement. Other times, we may be able to settle on a replacement car or a trade-in. It depends on the circumstances.

But, ultimately, it won’t cost you anything because the law makes Kia pay the legal fees for lemon law cases.

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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