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An attention-grabbing design, intuitive features, and a budget-friendly price tag elevate the Kia Sportage above many compact sports utility vehicles (SUVs). Older model years remain great options for both new and experienced drivers alike. The Sportage has a great resale value according to CarEdge.com. An SUV in good condition, with an annual mileage of 12,000 miles, will only depreciate by 50% after five years.

Are Kia Sportages Reliable SUVs?

Few compact SUVs can match the reliability of the Kia Sportage. RepairPal gives it 4.0 out of 5.0, putting it 6th out of 26 models. It also has excellent ownership costs. It needs fewer repairs than the average for its category, and what problems it does develop are usually less severe than the ones that show up in other compact SUVs.

While the first generation (1995-2002) has some reliability problems, the next three generations benefited from improved manufacturing quality. Many Sportages from the later generations boast six-digit number mileages.

Your compact SUV can easily reach 200,000 miles if you take good care of it. Stick to Kia’s recommended maintenance schedule, fix problems immediately, change out worn parts every 60,000 miles, and drive mindfully. You’ll find out that the near-legendary Kia Sportage reliability is real.

Top Kia Sportage Problems

The Kia Sportage is one of the most dependable models in its class, but it isn’t immune to issues. CarComplaints.com identified the 2012 Kia Sportage as the model year that received the highest number of complaints and developed the most severe problems. Here are some of the most common Kia Sportage issues across model years:

Exterior Accessories Problems

2016 Kia Sportage QL MY17 Wikimedia
Several owners of 2016 Sportages have complained about a faulty key fob that failed to work except at very short ranges. Image source: Wikimedia.

While there aren’t many reports about bad Kia Sportage exterior accessories, what problems do show up can prove troublesome.

For example, several owners of 2016 Sportages have complained about a faulty key fob that failed to work except at very short ranges.

Meanwhile, a power trunk door that sometimes fails to close properly is a frequently reported issue for the 2017 Kia Sportage. The trunk lid may even open by itself. In both cases, the vehicle remains drivable, but items stored in the trunk can roll out and thieves may use it to enter the SUV.

HVAC Issues

The A/C compressors of some Sportages manufactured in 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2012, and 2013 are prone to defects. Turning on the air conditioning can produce loud noises and shake the A/C compressor clutch.

This problem can show up as early as the 15,000-mile mark. Fixing it usually requires replacing the entire clutch assembly, although the compressor itself may run fine and not need replacement.

Engine Problems

One of the issues that plague many 2012 Kia Sportage units involves its engine dying out while driving at high speeds. In some cases, the engine made loud noises before it stalled or failed. Some owners reported that their SUV also caught fire and released smoke. This problem proved especially dangerous, especially when it happened on the highway. The only way to fix the problem was to replace the engine.

Kia eventually recalled the 2012 units with the bad engines. The automaker explained that leaks in the oil pan caused the problem. Without sufficient oil to lubricate and cool engine parts, the engine could easily overheat and damage itself.

Transmission Troubles

Owners of varying Sportage model years have complained that their SUV developed transmission issues. Its transmission can drop out of gear, find it hard to switch between gears, or get stuck in parking gear.

Starting with the 2000 Kia Sportage, various model years can develop a problem that keeps their check engine light turned off. The issue was typically caused by a bug with the transmission control module (TCM). Software updates may help the TCM disable the check engine light.

Faulty Fuel Systems

The metal fuel tanks in some 1996-2002 Kia Sportage units can corrode quickly when exposed to road salt. These leaky tanks can waste fuel and reduce the vehicle’s fuel efficiency. If flakes of rust contaminate the fuel, it can negatively affect the engine’s performance. Furthermore, the 2002 Kia Sportage can develop a problem where fuel pours out of the fuel tank it’s pumped too quickly.

Some newer model years also have occasional issues with their fuel system. Several owners of 2020 Kia Sportages have reported a faulty fuel sensor that can send inaccurate data to their SUV’s computer. This causes the fuel gauge to show misleading information about the actual content of the fuel tank.

Keeping your Kia Sportage in good condition requires staying on top of its maintenance and keeping an eye out for the issues it may develop down the line. So it pays to learn about the problems associated with the model year you own or plan to buy. By taking steps to minimize these problems and replacing Kia Sportage parts when they wear out, you can keep your SUV running smoothly for many years.

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