really awful
Typical Repair Cost:
Average Mileage:
104,200 miles
Total Complaints:
8 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. replace engine (8 reports)
2012 Kia Forte engine problems

engine problem

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2012 Kia Forte Owner Comments

problem #8

Jul 012019


  • Automatic transmission
  • 170,000 miles


I had several occasions where the car would stall and the restart after sitting a few hours. I had contacted my local Kia service department as to see if they may know what the problem could have been only to be told they would need to see the car and inspect which included a hefty hourly fee. And not long after the last stall I was driving when the engine light came on and the car almost instantly died, I was able to get car to shoulder of road, then car would attempt to start and run for about 2 minutes with great knocking noise then die again. I had to tow it home and then have the mechanic shop tow it to them to do a thorough check up to only determine that the engine had blown due to bad rods.

As to which, the mechanic informed me of the problems Kia had with the Theta motor. I had to have a new motor installed. I had contacted Kia (main office) with my issue and to inquire about previous and present recalls with that engine, as I was told my car was NOT on the list and they could NOT help me and then refused any further communications with me. I don't know how to bring this issue to their attention or to get help with placing this make and model on the recall list as I see there's a ton of other owners that have had the same problem as I have!! If anyone has better insight please help bring it to the proper attention so we that have incurred expenses can be helped.

- Tammy S., Palmyra, US

problem #7

Apr 142020

Forte EX 2.,0

  • Automatic transmission
  • 88,000 miles

its a known problem hyonda had same problems in theirs motors they recalled theirs and made things right forte from 2010 to 2013 have this issue shutting down while driving down highway no warnings motor just seizes up thousands of kia fortes out there doing this sure theirs been a few crashes over it please help make kia take care of this problem before someone gets killed

- Becky H., Dunbar, PA, US

problem #6

Aug 112019

Forte SX 2.4L I4

  • Automatic transmission
  • 93,000 miles

Second owner of 2012 Kia Forte Hatchback with 2.4 engine. Purchased with 66k miles from Sunset KIA of Auburn Washington. Regular maintenance and oil changes done since I took possession of the car. Now at 93k miles.

Engine gave out on the freeway at 65 mph. Had to get to the side of the highway with no power steering or brake assist. Very scary in heavy traffic--could have caused a major accident.

How does a car with 93k miles have the engine seize? Shop said I need a new engine, crank shaft damaged. But doesn't appear to be "oil" related. Issue is with engine bearings which caused engine to seize.

Trying to determine if it's worth fixing. Looking online it seems like these early failures are common for KIAs with the 2.4 engine. I guess I'm lucky it didn't catch on fire or burn.

- M G., Everett, WA, US

problem #5

Aug 112019

Forte SX 2.4L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 93,000 miles


KIA,HYUNDAI THETA 2.4 Engine Failure, Under 100k miles. I have a 2012 Kia Forte Hatch SX with the 2.4 engine. I purchased it from a Kia dealership in Washington State with 66,000 miles not quite 3 years ago. In that time I've put about 30K miles on the car. I've had the oil changed regularly (every 5k miles), and it has never been low. Last week, on August 11, 2019, while driving to work the engine seized on the highway. I lost power steering and brake assist. I was able to pull off the road without causing an accident, but only because of the time of day. Had it happened during heavier traffic a significant accident could have occurred. From online research it appears that this is a common problem for this car and others that that use the same Theta II engine. Kia and Hyundai have only recalled the "turbo charged" version of these engines to date--but if my experience is anything to go by the non-turbo engines are also affected.

- Cheryl G., Marysville, US

problem #4

Jul 012018

Forte 2.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 115,000 miles

Got the 2012 kia forte with my son so he would have a dependable vehicle but as others have mentioned the 2.0 liter engine has issues.. really bad ones..it literally shattered .. driving down the road..and no not on a side road but cars flying by at 60mph. Luckily nobody was hit.. the engine is in pieces! And the news about kia knowing this is everywhere. The 2012 kia forte needs to be added to the lawsuit . I will be contacting Levin Sedran and Berman as well. This is a bunch of crap.. it's the same engine. And if you check the oil it always seems fine.. You won't get any indication that your engine is fixing to shatter! Definitely would never recommend kia to anyone! Don't waste your efforts because they take so long on getting anything done for you!

- Marsha D., Yellville, AR, US

problem #3

Mar 192018

Forte Hatchback 4 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 101,000 miles

My 2012 KIA Forte Hatchback has been awesome until this past Monday. I mean, WHO gives a 10 yr/100K mile warranty? That's the main reason I got it. I've traveled just a little over 101,000 miles in 6 years without ANY problems, maintained service, and enjoyed it. That all changed Monday.

I was on my way to work, when I noticed the oil light come on; thinking that it was the sensor again, I decided to keep an eye on it anyway. Just a bit further down the road as I was entering the turning lane to get on Interstate, my car just died. No power, no brakes, no nothing. I managed to pull off onto the side of the road without getting hit. I noticed that every warning light had come on, too. Confused as to why it suddenly died, yet still had electrical power, I started trying different options while waiting on my husband. Nothing. No click. Nada. Once he arrived, he immediately checked the oil--good. Checked the battery connection--good. Tried jumping it--nothing. Opted to go buy a new battery just in case--nope, that wasn't it.

We were lost. Had no clue. If it was a sensor then it had to be dealt with at the dealership. So, we decided to tow it to the closest one, though it wasn't a KIA. I told them what had happened. TWO days later, they told me that there were metal shavings in my engine and it would have to be replaced. Say what?! I'm not a mechanic, but I do know that in order to have metal shavings in the engine meant that there had to be ZERO lubrication in the parts and metal was scraping metal. And, they weren't there at Thanksgiving when I got my oil changed last.

I call the local KIA dealership and ask if they've heard of any problems like this. She advised that they had with the Optima, but not the Forte. She then said if I could bring it in, they'd talk to the warranty people and see if they could get it fixed. In the meantime, I just happened to stumble across an engine mechanic who informed me that there had been problems with EVERY 2012 KIA model vehicles! He started ticking off specific examples for me. By the time we finished our conversation, he advised to go ahead and take it to the KIA dealership and see what happened. I hung up then Googled problems with the 2012 KIAs.

To my amazement, I discovered that there were SEVERAL complaints! Several have been mentioned here on this site. So, I will be following his advice and will update as soon as possible. Maybe by now, the warranty people will be forced to fix this OR the dealership will do the right thing and I can resolve the issue without losing my temper.

- Amy W., Blue Springs, MS, US

problem #2

Jan 172018

Forte EX 2.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 87,000 miles

My 2012 Forte has been babied since new - all maintenance performed at the dealer, and always on time or early (I like to stay ahead of certain things!). Planned on owning the car for a very long time, so I've always invested in high quality items when things like tires or the battery needed replacing (both done in the last 11 months). No maintenance problems ever.

I'm 11 months out of warranty, took it in for a slight engine knock, and was told the bottom end of the engine is going and could go at any time, leaving me stranded wherever it happens. Believed to be a wrist pin, but that was only speculation.

Further research shows a LOT of engine failures on this engine model in Kia Forte's. It's actually the exact same engine that Kia and Hyundai recalled on several other vehicles due to, guess what, knocking and bottom end failure! For some reason Kia is NOT acknowledging those of us who bought the "cheaper" priced Forte that uses this engine and have only recalled it in all their more expensive models.

See: https://www.carcomplaints.com/news/2016/hyundai-theta-ii-engine.shtml

Dealer wants thousands and thousands of dollars to replace it with a used engine, which I'm sure will eventually develop the problem too, if it hasn't already. I'm not at a stage in life where I can afford a new car, let alone repairing this one, and specifically bought a Kia because they were supposed to be very long lasting like Hyundai and Toyota. I'm devastated at this and wish that Kia would acknowledge us Forte users, given that a few hours of research seems to show our engine failure in the Theta II is JUST as common as all the "more expensive" models they're catering to in their recall.

I've done nothing but preach how awesome Kia is to all my friends and family over the last 5 years, and am now making an honest effort to tell every single person I know, friend, family, co-worker, random people on the street, how awful my experience has been with this Kia and how I never recommend anyone ever buy a Kia EVER. Learn how to treat your customers Kia - we make large investments with you, second largest investment other than my house, and I'm left out to pasture only a few months after my warranty ended!

- mindabsence, Kitchener, ON, Canada

problem #1

Jan 122017

Forte SX 2.4L

  • CVT transmission
  • 86,247 miles

click to see larger images

blown engine

Bought new from stealership with 40km December 3rd 2012. Always highway driven in Southern Interior of British Columbia, Canada by my wife, a Community Health Worker. Being in a remote area, she spends a lot of time on the road and so we do our own oil changes. Filters always bought from dealership (invoices in hand). First 5000 km we used Mobil 1 5w-20 Engine Oil (non-synthetic). From that point on we did changes at intervals ranging from 5000 km to 6000 km using the same Brand and grade only the Full Synthetic blend. I'm a strong believer that oil and filters are much cheaper then engines and it should be taken very seriously. I even have our own Oil Change Stickers for the windshield! Draining the oil in any of our vehicles, I always flush out the remaining oil from the bottom of the pan by adding fresh oil until it runs clear out the drain plug. Doesn't take much really.

Yesterday (Jan 12 2017), during a routine travel down the highway at its rated speed (90km/h), a faint knock started when the engine would be above 2000 rpm. We needed to turn the ventilation and radio off to hear it. No CEL or Oil Indicator Lights, sweet nothing. Idling nothing could be heard. Checked the Oil Temp Display and it was just under the Normal Operating Temp (I mean 1 pixel down from the center line...). We stopped, turned off the engine. I checked the oil, was at the upper mark. No burnt smell, no strange color. It's next oil change was due in 2000 km (notice how I said WAS). Started the car back up, very slowly revved the engine. No knock. Proceeded to our destination. Once it got under load (just by accelerating) it came back. This time turned off the engine and called the dealership we usually go to for service. Car just had the rear exhaust portion replaced, as well as tranny fluid flush withing the last 3000 km. Talked to the Service Manager, Mike Nikolic. I explained to him what happened and what I had checked already. He asked if we had extended warranty, which we don't (we expected the car to last at least until it was paid!) His recommendation was to make sure the Engine Coolant was topped off since it was really cold and, take it easy. These engines will knock when cold and not enough coolant he said... What kind of service manager would recommend that when a customer mentions that an engine is knocking. Pardon my language but wtf. So heeded the advice and checked the fluids. They were all good, of course since I check them regularily. So we started the car back up, same thing. No knock, not a sound, just the usual injectors clicking. Once back on the road again, at 60 km/h (as we were taking it easy), the knock came back with a vengeance. Within 10 km of it starting back up, a connecting rod blew a hole in the block (pictured). The cabin filled with burnt oil smoke, shrapnel flew everywhere on the road, not to mention the oil. Luckily no other car were directly behind us as we were taking it easy, as recommended. Put the car in neutral and was lucky enough we got it in a double lane section of the highway so traffic could still kinda safely pass beside us. I should mention at this point that the local Outside temp at the time was -17F, this area has been touched by a mighty cold snap this winter, its been horrible. So needless to say being stranded on a section of highway with NO cell coverage at these temperature is simply damn nasty. It was 5PM when the towing showed up, 1h30m after the phone call, which we had to find Cell Service to make.

Final KM Count on the Forte odometer : 138801, 4 years and 40 days after purchase. I personally drive a Honda CRV 2001 as a beater, 437284km...16 years later and counting. I guess what should one expect from a car company who uses rodents as their mascots...

When we got home, we started Googling Kia Forte 2.4L Knock. Found very interesting information, this issue is not isolated! And Kia knows about it but denies it from what I can understand. Reading on the internet about the class action lawsuits against Kia/Hyundai, the wording Sudden Connecting Rod Bearing Catastrophic Failure is pretty much the exact sum of what happened here. At this point its needless to say how pissed off and infuriated we are. The wife never had a car fail on her in this manner, she is quite shook up by it, none the less by the treacherous temperatures we were subdued to because of this sudden unexpected failure.

When we contacted Mike today (the service manager from Penticton, BC stealership)(13/01/2017), he again asked about the extended warranty. When given no as an answer, he pretty much said well its gonna cost a lot to fix and your 40000 out of warranty. When told she needed a car to work, he answered his neighbor is selling a Ford Taurus for 800$... Pardon my language but who the f*ck is this clown and how is he a service manager at a car stealership? (I think I answered my own question there...) He then simply said its a corporate thing and he can't do anything about it.

One more thing which is worth mentioning. I maintain the family's vehicles, three gas cars and one diesel truck. Well now two gas cars. Since I use an oil burner to heat our shop, I recycle the used engine oil by filtering it and using it in the waste oil burner. That said, I've NEVER seen any metal shavings, filings or pieces of any kind in any of my filters. Had I seen some, I can guarantee I would of hauled the car to the dealership before the warranty expired because of the mileage she puts on it for work. We have been doing more then the recommended maintenance on the car with quality parts and fluids, always following or exceeding the manufacturer specs. No warning indicator lights have ever come on, else then the normal when putting the key in before starting the engine.

My mother is semi-retired now, so she is able to lend her Echo to my wife so she can go and see her patients for work! Having a reliable car in this area is of great importance even more when community people's health is at play. The main reason she bought it new in the first place. Now she is stuck with 1 more year of payments and a 8000$ balloon payment to go towards a hunk of junk now littering our nice country property. Fixing it is pointless as the cost is more then its blue book value! Thanks Kia.

Kia and Hyundai need to answer for what they are putting customers with the Theta engines thru. Why are we always at their mercy? This car paid them 29000$, they should be answering to us.

http://bc.ctvnews.ca/class-action-lawsuit-alleges-defect-exists-in-some-kia-engines-1.2977650 Same failure keeps being described. Bearing Oil Defects. Not alleges...They Do Exist!

- martinbc01, Rock Creek, BC, Canada

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