2021 Kia Telluride Problems and Top Complaints – Is Your Car A Lemon?

Cracking windshields, exploding sunroofs, and varied electrical system 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.

Hailed as an American icon by the automaker, the 2021 Kia Telluride was named The Car Connection’s Best Family Car to Buy in 2021. But that was before consumers started complaining about windshields spontaneously cracking, sunroofs exploding, a myriad of electrical problems, and various issues that affect multiple other components.  

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

Most Common Problems Analysis

Launched in the U.S. as a 2020 model in the spring of 2019, the Kia Telluride has had window glass issues since day one. Lemberg Law has class action investigations about both faulty windshields and sunroofs.

But there are many other issues that have led owners to complain about the 2021 Kia Telluride on various platforms. Complaints to Lemberg Law are varied, but include top issues — cracking windshields, electrical system faults, and vibrations caused by the powertrain.

Issues relating to cracking and exploding glass top the list of complaints to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) about the 2021 Kia Telluride. and other reliable sources highlight issues with faulty brakes, forward collision-avoidance, and airbags that don’t deploy. Cracking windshields are listed mostly as visibility/wiper or visibility issues, but are also categorized as unknown or other, structure, and electrical system. Sunroof problems, including cracking and exploding, are listed in similar categories.

There are also issues with airbags that don’t deploy, powertrains that vibrate, and brakes that fail. Other components and systems that feature include electronic stability control, engine and engine cooling, exterior lighting, forward collision avoidance, fuel/propulsion system, lane departure, seat belts and seats, steering, suspension, tires, vehicle speed control, and wheels.

2021 Telluride Recalls

Additionally, there are two recalls, one of which relates to an airbag problem. The recall notification warns that if the front passenger airbag deploys with a child in the seat of certain Kia vehicles, there is a risk the child will be injured.

The second, an urgent safety recall, warns of an issue with tow hitch harnesses that are a fire risk. Owners of 36,417 Telluride vehicles (MY 2020-2022) have been advised to park outside and away from structures until the recall repair is complete. Dealers have been instructed to install a new wiring harness extension and fuse. However, while NHTSA Campaign Number 22V626000 is dated August 15, 2022, owner notification letters were only mailed on April 12, 2023.

2021 Kia Telluride Complaint Summary

Complaint CategoryNumber of Complaints
Unknown Or Other
Electrical System
Forward Collision Avoidance: Warnings
Exterior Lighting
Power Train
Service Brakes

Windshield and Window Problems

Probably the most talked about issue has to do with the auto glass, which continues to cause the same problems as the first 2020 model year.

Most of the NHTSA complaints (more than 46%) are listed as visibility or visibility/wiper problems. Almost all of them were motivated by windshield cracking. But there are also reports of windows and sunroof glass cracking. About 43% of the unknown or other complaints are about the same problems, including a window that exploded. Similarly, several complaints listed as structure problems are focused on faulty windshields and sunroofs.

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Windshield Cracking Problems

In November 2019, Kia launched a Customer Satisfaction Initiative for Telluride customers. This was a result of the many complaints of windshield chipping that was very quickly followed by extensive cracking, preventing repair of the chip. Dealers were asked to replace affected windshields free of charge. But second model year (2021) owners have not been afforded the same resolution. There is no campaign number for this initiative and repairs are not limited to specific VINs.

A typical complaint was lodged by the owner of a 2021 model from Kansas. “The windshield began to crack on the edge of the glass and spread across the entire windshield for no apparent reason. Nothing impacted the windshield like a rock or debris during driving. This happened overnight and then continued to spread, again, for no apparent reason. I have had windshield repair technicians look to see if I am missing something and they also agreed there were no chips or anything obvious that would start the crack on the windshield.”

Another, from an owner in Washington, reports a six-inch crack on the windshield. It states that the vehicle had been “sitting in the parking lot. There are no signs of an impact like a rock chip or anything. The vehicle is three months old and has 4,000 miles on it.”

There isn’t any explanation from Kia America for the extensive windshield cracking issue. But an owner in New Jersey discovered in March 2021 that it may be due to a design “frame stress-related issue.” The complaint states that the “dealership engineers came to the same conclusion. Since the same defect applies to 2020 models, it “looks like Kia has not fixed this defect and (is) refusing to accept that there are serious design issues with the Kia Telluride.”

Reports that Windows Crack

An owner from Pennsylvania was driving at about 35 mph when the window in the rear door behind the driver’s seat suddenly exploded, “crumbling into countless pieces and shards.” The owner of a local dealership “said he could do nothing to replace the window. He also tried to refute my statement that the glass pieces had left about a dozen scratches in the paint. He had no idea what kind of glass Kia uses in these windows.” The complaint continues, “Tempered glass should not shatter unless defects develop during manufacturing and/or installation.” The owner was forced to wrap the window in plastic until the glass could be replaced.

Another owner states that while driving, “I heard a noise on the passenger side window. The next day I noticed a chip spidering. This should not be.”

Exploding Sunroofs

While driving at about 45-50 mph on a straight, smooth road, an owner from Pennsylvania heard “a loud pop or thud and then glass fell in on the driver and front passenger.” There was also glass on the second row where her two-year-old daughter was sitting. “The front sunroof panel had exploded or shattered somehow. We were on a section of road with nothing overhead.” The vehicle had only 190 miles on the clock when this happened.

An owner from Colorado states that the sunroof exploded while driving down a highway. The sunroof was closed but the shade was open, “so glass fell down on us when driving. There was a loud pop when this happened, but we didn’t see any objects flying towards our car before this happened… Glass hit me in the face while driving at highway speeds, luckily I remained in control of the car.”

Problems with the Electrical System

With a modern SUV, owners want a seamless electrical system that operates all the bells and whistles with ease. They don’t want the dashboard to light up like a “Xmas tree of death” while driving at about 35-40 mph on a city street. But this is what happened to an owner of a 2021 Telluride with 17,7862 miles. All the indicators “went crazy” and there was a slight loss of power with the engine and transmission.

He replaced the battery with a new one, which “fixed the problem for a few hours.” But later that same day, the same thing happened again. “At this point I know there is something more happening electronically that is not right. Hence the problem: The UB module assembly behind the dashboard needs to be replaced because it is defective.”

An owner from Illinois had problems while driving down the highway in the rain. The “check engine light came on and I was unable to accelerate my vehicle over 30mph and the speedometer stopped working.” The dealership couldn’t find any problems. But that wasn’t the only issue. The mirror function where the side mirrors fold and unfold doesn’t always work. And the windows don’t always roll and unroll.

Another owner describes how after his wife had placed their two children in their car seats, in the car, the Telluride wouldn’t start. The dome lights and other electrical items were on, but when she tried to start the car “it instantly went dead.” It was as if the battery had suddenly been removed. While moving the children to their other vehicle, the Telluride turned on. The radio was on, but the HVAC, which had been on, was now off. The fuel performance indicator had reset to zero. She tried to reproduce the issue but couldn’t.

Problems with Powertrain

A smooth-shifting experience is what customers want, but it’s not what many get. Excessive vibration at speeds from 55-80 mph has resulted in some major complaints.

One of the first complaints was lodged in November 2020 by an owner in New Jersey. It states that “the steering wheel and seats vibrate while driving between 60-80 mph. This is a known issue on Tellurides and Palisades that is fixed by replacing it with a properly balanced driveshaft. However the dealer refuses to proceed and Kia consumer affairs has been difficult to work with.”

An owner from Texas lodged a similar complaint. “There is a known issue with Tellurides and Hyundai Palisade vehicles right now with excessive vibration when speeds reach 55 mph–70 mph. Kia Consumer Assistance and dealers are not being helpful. They road force balanced my wheels and sent me home… I told them it’s not fixed and now they want me to take it back. There are multiple people on forum/messaging board with the same problem. Kia replaces driveshafts/AWD couplers on some, which resolves the issues but ignores others. They need a TSB to fix this universally.” That was in December 2020. Eventually, a TSB was issued, but more than a year later, in January 2022. There have been no complaints to the NHTSA or Lemberg Law about vibrations since then.

What Should You Do If You Have a Lemon?

Recurring problems that affect your use or the value of a vehicle may indicate that it’s a lemon. But the best approach is to ask an experienced lemon law firm to evaluate the problem. The law makes Kia pay lemon law legal fees, so Lemberg Law will assess your problems free of charge. All you have to do is call our Helpline or fill out a contact form and we’ll get back to 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
  • Mary H

    2021 Telluride, 2nd owner. 23k mikes. Loud “clunk” noise (in rear, or at least it seems) when rolling at a low speed from Park to Drive. LOUD noise. Started the same week i purchased the vehicle. Had the “boot” or “dust cover” (can’t recall exact name) put over the shocks per Kia corporate…didn’t fix it. Dropped it off again, they had it for over a week and told me they don’t hear the noise and can’t fix anything they can’t hear themselves. I went to drive away, LOUD noise 2x while pulling out of my parking spot. Had to throw a HUGE tantrum to convince the dealer to keep it there so they can continue searching for the issue. The service manger drive with me and it made the noise 6 times. They kept it and replaced the rear differential. Didn’t fix it. My vehicle has now been in the shop this time around for 4 weeks, and the dealer said they have no clue what’s wrong with it. I’ve also had an issue with my backup camera going completely blank and my transmission had hesitated to shift at low speeds 2x previously. They have really backed me into a corner here. I had to beg for a loaner vehicle, they put me in a tiny kia Neuro that’s the bare minimum package which doesn’t even have remote start. Got ride of my Ford Expedition for this Kia, HUGE mistake!!

  • Mark B

    I got my Kia Telluride in March of this year and the battery light popped on. I’ve called several times to schedule an appointment to have it looked at and they tell me they’re booked until the end of November! What the heck am I supposed to do until then?! The car is only a year old, why are lights popping in already? I was told it sounds like it’s the alternator what I had the battery charged at AutoZone. But I’m not happy about this at all.

  • Monica

    I bought a SX Telluride and 3 days after I drove it home I went to the grocery store and it felt like it won’t accelerate then it would pop into gear. I was driving an S before this and never had any problems. Loved how it drove. I don’t know what is going on and now I have to take my 3 day old car to the dealership to figure out what the heck is going on. This is so frustrating. I am concerned this is a safety issue.

  • Rick

    My 2022 Kia Telluride is less than 1 month old and has been in the dealer for over 2 weeks for an electrical issue that they can’t seem to fix. This car only has 400 miles on it and I haven’t even made my first car payment. I have never had any issues with any other new car I’ve purchased in my life…ever. This is ridiculous and I am interested in joining a class action lawsuit.

  • D'Anestine

    I have a 2021 Telluride. I brought it in April 2021. Since I’ve had the vehicle to which I love, I had my windshield replaced 1x and the gel applied 1x. AC went out in March of 2022. Took it to a Kia dealership, the car needed a new Low End hose-7 days for part, all day to put it on. April 24 no AC again. I took it back to same dealership. Mechanic said that a pebble or object kicked back into the grill and damaged the condensor–10 days until part comes in and 4700 to do the job. I want part of any and all class actions. This is crazy!!

  • Arthur V

    2021 telluride purchased new in 2020 early on I noticed the smell of coolant in vehicle after keeping a eye on reservoir between oil changes I noticed it was low . Dealership said cylinders 1 and 3 were wet and I need new head gaskets( car has 23000 miles ) head gaskets are not available in USA it’s been over 3 weeks , do I have any recourse.

  • Ronald C

    I bought my 2021 Telluride SX in October 2020. I have a heavy foot so it hasn’t been babied. My only complaint is that in heavy rain the back up camera gets moisture in it and shows on the screen. It’s still effective so it’s ok.
    I have the Nightfall edition with brown Nappa leather. I added a 2” lift, luggage rack, aggressive snow tires and I get a lot of admiring comments.
    It’s a wonderful car and I expect to keep it the rest of my life.

  • Erick K

    Have a 2021 Telluride sx. And around 70 mph to 80 I have a vibration. Been to the dealership several times. And they tell me there is nothing wrong. So I had the valet mode on and noticed they never drove it. Then the other dealer rotated the tires and said they solved the problem. And off course that was wrong.

  • Tracy

    I bought my Kia in August of 2020 but it was brand new 2021 with only 13 miles on it. About 4 months in I brought my 2021 Kia Soul for its 1st oil change I had also told them about a noise coming for the heater but it seemed that they wanted to brush me off until I became a big pain in their ass then they fixed it. After the first oil change I noticed that the mileage to drive under until the next oil change was different then what the manual stated they said you could go 7500 but the dealership I took my car to because the first oil change is free used synthetic blend oil and not full synthetic when it came for the factory. So my next oil change I asked for full synthetic. I have under 20,000 miles on my car and I’ve had to add 6 quarts of oil since I purchased it. I’ve taken back to the dealership they stated we need to have you drive the car 1000 miles and then we can measure how much oil it’s using. So on Thursday 2,2021 half way into the 1000 miles go to start the vehicle the check engine light came on and was shaking brought it back parked it at home before it blew up. Called the dealership where I bought it they gave me road side assistance number to get it towed but I couldn’t to them because I live about 50 miles away. So I had it towed to another Kia dealership and for the past 3 days I’ve called left messages and all I know is we are waiting to see if if it’s covered under warranty. Which is very confusing to me because why would I be told to call roadside assistance if it wasn’t. It’s been 3 days and they don’t return any calls I feel like going sitting in the lounge area and not leaving until I get some answers but instead I’m paying $75 a day for a rental car because they don’t have any loaners to give me. So, I’m paying for a car a can’t drive and car I need to have for work. Some one needs to make this right. I feel Kia new of this issue and still let hard work Americans that are trying to survive a pandemic buy theses cars. They need to make it right it so unfair that they can take our money for a defective product.

  • Brenda

    My 2020 Telluride has been in the shop for two monts at Crain Kia in Sherwood Ar waiting for an alternator i keep getting the run around when I call to chevk on it. I was not offered a loaner or rental

  • Chris

    Mine was having at 35k vibrations at 60mph. They had the tires balance and it worked, however when braking the vibration still the same when going over 45mph, other than that i feel like there is a sound when turning left but not sure if im imagining these.

  • Sharena

    My 2 month old Telluride with 3,700 miles has been in the shop for over 3 weeks with no update. The collision sensors went crazy one day while I was driving causing the car to brake excessively for no reason. Ultimately it stopped and wouldn’t start back up. I had to have it towed to the dealership. They did not have any loaners so I am out of over $2,000 on a rental car and they only plan to reimburse 1/3 of the amount. Another week and I am contacting a lawyer!

  • Sharena

    My 2 month old Telluride with 3,700 miles has been in the shop for over 3 weeks with no update. The collision sensors went crazy one day while I was driving causing the car to brake excessively for no reason. Ultimately it stopped and wouldn’t start back up. I had to have it towed to the dealership. They did not have any loaners so I am out of over $2,000 on a rental car and they only plan to reimburse 1/3 of the amount. Another week and I am contacting a lawyer!

  • Sharena

    My 2 month old Telluride with 3,700 miles has been in the shop for over 3 weeks with no update. The collision sensors went crazy one day while I was driving causing the car to brake excessively for no reason. Ultimately it stopped and wouldn’t start back up. I had to have it towed to the dealership. They did not have any loaners so I am out of over $2,000 on a rental car and they only plan to reimburse 1/3 of the amount. Another week and I am contacting a lawyer!

  • Drema

    2021 telluride my cellphone won’t work through the car and the display screen don’t come on like it should and then all of a sudden it comes on have it tontje dealership several times about this issue and they tell me it’s my cellphone and they can’t find nothing wrong any help or advice

  • Drema

    My cellphone won’t work through the car and tje display screen don’t come on like it should and then all of a sudden it comes on have it tontje dealership several times about this issue and they tell me it’s my cellphone and they can’t find nothing wrong any help or advice

  • William B

    Have a 2021 Telluride and has a bad vibration at 65mph or above. Had it dealer twice and after being there over 3 hours KIA Headquarters finally admitted it’s a driveshaft problem and authorized a new one. There are many other people with the same problem. BEWARE

  • mike

    2nd day with a brand new telluride and the blind spot monitor on one side of my vehicle is not working. not sure what is going on with it i have to take it back to dealership tomorrow, only 900 mile’s on it. drove 300 miles to pick it up considering there is not many out there right now.

  • Lynn B

    The next day after purchasing our Telluride all the electrical lights came on the display. It was in and out of the shop multiple times. After 6 months of haggling we finally got a full refund under the lemon law.

  • Larry B

    Shocking / some reports including car and driver say most satisfied by drivers , after reading this , not so sure … just like politics no 100% happy on anything … what do you believe ?

  • Nelms G

    My daughter has a new(less than 3000 miles) that has serious electrical issues, the most prominent issue being a repeating failure of the electric door lock/unlock system to respond to commands to operate. I believe that in light of todays lawlessness conditions, especially for young women, that this is a safety issue.

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