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  • The Kia Soul is a reliable and cheap-to-own subcompact SUV. RepairPal gave this model a 4.5 out of 5.0 rating.
  • Just like any other vehicle model, the Kia Soul still has some common issues such as engine failure, engine knocking, and ticking noises from the engine.
  • With its stellar reliability scores and user-friendly features, the Kia Soul is a great choice. However, you should still do your own research about the model year you want to purchase to avoid major potential issues down the line.

Perfect for beginning and teen drivers, the Kia Soul is known for its reliability, user-friendly features, and fuel efficiency. It also has an excellent depreciation rate of just 21% after five years and a five-year resale value of $13,614 (assuming a selling price of $21,521), according to

Are Kia Souls Reliable?

The Kia Soul is a very reliable subcompact SUV. In fact, gives this model a 4.5 out of 5.0 rating, placing it 3rd out of 7 other vehicles in its segment. Meanwhile, UK-based marketing research firm J.D Power has given the 2021 model year a reliability score of 81 over 100. Cars U.S. News also recognized the 2019 Kia Soul as the Best New Car for Teens.

kia soul
The Kia Soul is known for its reliability, user-friendly features, and fuel efficiency.

Aside from the high reliability scores and awards, the Kia Soul is also known for its low ownership cost. The average annual ownership cost of the Kia Soul is $437, which is lower than the ownership costs of other subcompact SUVs ($466) and other vehicles in general ($652). The Kia Soul has a repair frequency of 0.2 times per year, which is about the same for other subcompact SUVs (0.2) and lower than other vehicle models (0.4). The probability of bringing this model to a shop for major repairs is at 9%, which is around the same for subcompact SUVs (9%) and less than other vehicle models (12%).

See also  295,000 Kia Vehicles Recalled for Engine Fire Risk

You can expect the Kia Soul to last for about 200,000 miles with regular maintenance and repairs.

Top Kia Soul Problems

While the Kia Soul is a dependable subcompact SUV, some of its model years can develop problems over time. If you’re looking to buy a used Soul, here are some commonly reported issues you may have to watch out for.

Cruise Control Surge

According to a report on, the cruise control on certain Kia Souls (particularly the 2018 model year) has a tendency to surge. The affected owner said that his vehicle suddenly surged in speed and then slowed down to three miles per hour. He added in his report that if the cruise control was engaged, the vehicle seemed to act normally. The owner had assumed that his Soul’s cruise control was trying to take control of the vehicle or that there was a vacuum leak somewhere. As of writing, Kia has not yet issued any technical service bulletins (TSBs) or recalls regarding this problem.

kia soul steering wheel
Several owners have reported that the cruise control on certain Kia Souls (particularly the 2018 model year) has a tendency to surge.

Engine Not Starting

Two of the most serious 2016 Kia Soul problems involve the engine. The first of these two major issues is a no-start condition. According to the reports made by affected owners, the issue seemed to turn up at around 10,000 miles. One owner even said that she encountered the issue less than a month after buying her SUV. According to another owner, they managed to solve the issue by replacing the vehicle’s battery.

There are no TSBs specifically addressing this issue, but Kia did release a TSB for the Soul EV about the AVN (audio-video navigation) displaying an “unable to start vehicle” warning message. TSB #PS425 was released in October 2015 and covers the 2015-16MY Soul EV (PS EV).

Engine Failure

As mentioned above, there are a couple of major 2016 Kia Soul problems. The second one is worse than the no-start condition and is probably the worst issue on this list because it involves engine failure. Also, this issue isn’t limited to the 2016 model year. In fact, this problem also affects the 2012-2015 model years. According to the reports on, the vehicle owners were driving when their vehicles lost power and stopped altogether. The affected owners experienced the issue at around 70,000-80,000 miles and have shelled out at least $3,800 for repairs.

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Upon investigating the issue, Kia found out that some 2012-2016 Kia Soul vehicles had their catalytic converters damaged by high exhaust gas temperatures. This resulted in abnormal engine combustion and damage to one or more of the engine’s pistons and connecting rods. Because of the nature of this problem, Kia recalled the affected vehicles under recall #SC176 on February 22, 2019. More than 350,000 vehicles were affected by this recall. You can find out more about this recall from

Engine Knocking

A knocking engine is another major issue with the Kia Soul, specifically the 2014 model year. According to affected owners, they heard a knocking noise from their vehicle before it lost acceleration and stopped altogether. One owner has reported that she and her significant other heard the knocking noise while on a road trip. They pulled over to see what was going on and were surprised to find out that a small fire had started under the hood. The vehicle then burst into flames. According to this owner, she only had the SUV for less than 90 days when the incident happened.

Kia has issued recall #SC200 in December 2020 to address the issue. This knocking issue not only affected 2014-2015 Kia Soul models, it also affected certain Sorento, Forte, Forte Koup, Optima Hybrid, and Sportage vehicles.

Ticking Noise

The most common 2013 Kia Soul problem is audible ticking sounds from the engine. This symptom is related to the engine failure issue mentioned above. According to the affected owners, they were on their usual daily drives when they suddenly heard loud knocking and tapping noises from the engine. Their vehicle then started to move more slowly. An affected owner had to replace their engine as a result of this issue. On average, it took the affected owners at least $4,000 to fix the issue. Many of the affected owners were relieved to find out that they were covered by the extended warranty that came with the #SC176 recall.

See also  295,000 Kia Vehicles Recalled for Engine Fire Risk

Clicking When Turning

A common 2012 Kia Soul problem involves the SUV’s steering system. According to some owners, they would suddenly hear and feel a clunking sound in the steering column. While others have reported hearing the sounds when making turns, some noticed that the issue was more noticeable when they were driving at certain speeds. According to the owners, they started noticing the problem at around 70,000 miles. It also cost them approximately $800 to fix.

Kia has released several TSBs regarding this issue. In fact, the latest was issued in March 2021. TSB #084, which was released in November 2018 and revised in November 2020, details the repair procedures to fix the steering components in Kia vehicles equipped with C-MDPS. The 2021 version of this TSB (#TSB_CHA084_R7) is still unavailable online. However, you can call your local Kia dealer to request a copy of the document.

With its stellar reliability scores and user-friendly features, the Kia Soul may be a great vehicle choice for you, especially if you’re a new driver. As always, make sure to do your own research about the model year you want to purchase to avoid major potential issues down the line. Also, remember to clear everything up with the seller before you seal the deal.

About The Authors
Lisa Conant, Automotive Features Reviewer at
Reviewed By Lisa Conant

Automotive Features Reviewer at

Lisa Conant grew up in Canada around a solid contingency of gear heads and DIY motor enthusiasts. She is an eclectic writer with a varied repertoire in the automotive industry, including research pieces with a focus on daily drivers and recreational vehicles. Lisa has written for Car Bibles and The Drive.

CarParts Research Team
Written By Research Team

Automotive and Tech Writers

The Research Team is composed of experienced automotive and tech writers working with (ASE)-certified automobile technicians and automotive journalists to bring up-to-date, helpful information to car owners in the US. Guided by's thorough editorial process, our team strives to produce guides and resources DIYers and casual car owners can trust.

Any information provided on this Website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace consultation with a professional mechanic. The accuracy and timeliness of the information may change from the time of publication.

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Teresa Taylor

My 2012 Kia soul I purchased three months ago in 2022 makes a really bad raddle sound when I start it it only raddles for a second upon the starting of the engine and then it stops what is it? Please someone tell has been doing it since day one of purchase.

Amy Dunne

I have a Kia soul gt 2020 and I have gotten in my car, slid in the seat and the car started. Today I went out to my garage and the car was running. I didn’t have keys with me until I got up and right before leaving so I’m not sure how long it was running.
Also, I’ve experienced a lot of issues with the cruise control wanting to not kick in when I first set it and having to hit the up button to get it going because it starts to slow down right after setting then it will all of a sudden kick in and speed way up. It’s not in sync at all it seems.
I’ve had it about a year and rarely drive it because I work at home. I don’t have money to get fixed.

Gabriel Jones

I have 2018 Kia soul it has 100771 miles on it till the engine started ticking and it still in the shop waiting on the claim adjuster to see if I can get it covered it went out on me last weekend and I still don’t have my car

Eva Green

I have a 2018 Soul. The Uvo System came on with an engine failure notice and a few seconds after the engine light turned on. When I stopped the car and check the oil, the car was missing almost three quarts. The engine rubber in the top of the oil was changed. Now is running better.

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