hardly worth mentioning
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
65,268 miles

About These NHTSA Complaints:

This data is from the NHTSA — the US gov't agency tasked with vehicle safety. Complaints are spread across multiple & redundant categories, & are not organized by problem.

So how do you find out what problems are occurring? For this NHTSA complaint data, the only way is to read through the comments below. Any duplicates or errors? It's not us.

2003 Kia Sorento electrical problems

electrical problem

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2003 Kia Sorento Owner Comments

problem #19

Jun 172016


  • 147,000 miles


The driver door cannot be opened from inside or outside. I understand this is a common problem with Kia Sorentos.

- Schenectady, NY, USA

problem #18

Sep 052015


  • miles
I was driving back from orlando, Florida after picking up my daughter who travelled down from uf in gainesville - 1st weekend in September, 2015. We were travelling South I95 in the middle lane, when the car completely shut off all the red lights on the dash board came on. Luckily I was able to steer the car over to the hard shoulder, this was extremely hard, & press hard on the brakes to stop. After 5mins or so I tried starting the car again, which to my surprised it started and we continued on our journey, this time I stayed in the right hand lane, next to the hard shoulder, after a few miles, the same thing happened exactly again. The engine shut off, and came to a halt. Now we were both upset as it was after 10pm at night, we called home to let someone know to be alert, and in the mean time started the car again, this off and on again issue occurred in total four times before we managed to get home safely. Due to driving very slowly along the highway!!! the next day the car started first time, drove to auto zone as it was a public holiday, after putting their machine on it. The test came back saying maybe it needed water, and a few other codes. They advise to take it to a car mechanic asap, started the car made it 1/2 way home, and the car stopped dead in the middle of a two lane road, nearly causing an accident. After pushing the car to a side road, left it for 4hrs came back & manage to get home. The next day along with my son driving the Kia, and myself behind him we attempted to get to the car mechanic we never made it, the van shut down, again. Push it to another side road, and had to have it towed to the mechanic. Been there ever since, car mechanic is having trouble locating the problem, called the dealer they have offered no help. Noticed there have been reported problems occurring with the new 2016 models of the same issue!!

- Palm Bay, FL, USA

problem #17

Jul 082015


  • 178,000 miles
Engine light is on, airbag light is on, clock can't keep right time, now won't start at all, I wished I never bought this 2003 Kia Sorento, they are nothing but junk. Please anybody who reads this do not buy a Kia vehicle. I hate Kia vehicles, I will never own one again, I would not take a Kia vehicle, even if they give me one. To many problems, since I bought it, haven't been anywhere in two weeks, because Kia vehicle is junk.

- Warfield, KY, USA

problem #16

Jul 082015


  • 174,000 miles


All lights come on, horn blows, but will not start at all, this Kia Sorento is junk, its falling apart, I got a disable mother, now can't take her to her doctor appointments, every since I had it, its been nothing but junk, we live on fixed income, can't afford to get another vehicle, and this 2003 Kia Sorento should not be on the road, all Kia Sorento vehicles are junk, clock is messed up, comes off and on, airbag light is on, now won't even start at all, something needs to be done about Kia dealerships selling junk vehicles, will complain again and again, they are junk!

- Warfield, KY, USA

problem #15

Jan 092014

Sorento 6-cyl

  • 150,000 miles
I am single old lady, late Jan.2014, driving back from orlando, fl. To my home<2 hrs away> on I-95 car slows down, all lights go on dashboard. Get home at 40 miles an hour.next day go to tire plus, can not fix car, engine trouble..go to dealer bev smith Kia, ft.pierce, fl, I am a regular there, with car problemsell me can needs new lower engine, $7000 I almost faint, , car not safe, I left anyway, they would not exactly tell me what wrong with car...coworker at walmart, tells me of mechanic, can fix it...take it there, he tells me what really is wrong with car..screw that hold harmony part, had broken off, half of it was still stuck into lowere engine< by the way, this was a recall back 3 years ago, in which I had complyed with Kia and they had replaced new harmony screw>...this honest mechanic, told me leave Kia over the weekend, willput put screw softener on screw still in engine, see if it comes out...it did, they put new screw, give me all new belts, I paid $1,800 of my own money, ..I go ahead and drive to miami, fll< 2 hrs away> day latter I drive to orlando, fl.< 3 hrs away>...in I 95....next day, try to get out of my driveway, same thing happened...good mechanic comes over to my house, said same screw came off...he fixes it again, $1,500, ...he tells me, get new car, do not keep this Kia Sorento 2003, car has flaw, can not be fixed....if keep it, just for around town drive, under 50 miles an hour, do not take turnpike or interstate highways...I contacted Kia motors, bev smith Kia, told them about recall screw replacement, tell me out of warranty, neither will really answer back...no money, no new car....Kia motors is a crook, ...tell me car out of warranty, that what do I want with old car...can not find any other prior complaints I made with car, since first year I bought it...

- P.Sl., FL, USA

problem #14

Jul 062014

Sorento 4WD 6-cyl

  • 130,000 miles
As my family and I drove down 146 towards baytown, tx from dayton, tx I heard a loud "thud". immediately followed by a loss of A/C, power, and steering. I pulled onto the shoulder immediately and popped the hood. I saw the harmonic balance lying on the splash guard and a belt lying beside it, as well as another belt loss but still hanging on the other pulleys. I got a friend to tow me back to my studio. I began searching online for why the bolt that holds the balance could just break. I found numerous reports of this problem, as well as law suits filled in other states for this very issue.

- Liberty, TX, USA

problem #13

May 052004

Sorento 6-cyl

  • 1,000 miles


The car been a problem since first year, I called district manager for Kia back in 2004, told him car was skipping beat, and shaking...he told me is was my imagination...the 2nd big problem car would just start losing power in I-95 or fl.turnpike and come to stand still, no matter how much I pressed the gas pedal, no go, almost got in several accidents in I-95, Florida late at nite...spend $800 at Kia of kendall in Florida, in miami, told me was fuel problem...way back home that same day, car did same thing slowed down in rushing traffic in I-95 floirda, almost got deadly accident from car behind me, took it to Kia of ft.pierce, kept car 1 week, mechanic could not figure out problem, ...I found on line, problem was at the fueling entrance, something dissolved and particles went to fueling injectors, clogging it and causing problems, told mechanics, replaced this part, car got fixed....last incident, major one, back 3 years ago took car to Kia dealer, due to letter from Kia corporation, major recall on screw that hold harmoney blancer to lower engine case...they replaced it...1/9/2004.driving back from orlando, fl, at nite, car just slows down, shakes, battery light and brake lite come one...miracle, 1 hour I drove car slowly back home...Friday I take to shop, find out same recall, replaced screw, rusted off, sheared off, half of it still in engine, harmoney fell off, ..miracle I did not ger major fire in car, late at nite, on I95..took it fri.to ft.pierce Kia, mechanic said can not be repaired, need spend$79000on new engine...nothing was mentioned same screw, recall, they replaced back 3 years ago...car has history of my complaints to corporate Kia..nothing ever done.

- Port St.Lucie., FL, USA

problem #12

Jun 082013

Sorento 6-cyl

  • 134,000 miles
When I try to start the vehicle it will not do anything until I open the driver door then it will start.

- Mocksville, NC, USA

problem #11

Mar 142012

Sorento 6-cyl

  • 107,000 miles
Driving at night when all of a sudden interior lights started blinking off & on like strobe lights at a disco. I tried turning them off, nothing. It seemed related to the dimmer switch because if I kept pressure on it to the lowest degree, the flashing stopped. For awhile I wedged a pin in the switch & that worked. Eventually, though that stopped working & the light show would begin. It happened day & night, just more noticeable at night. I finally removed the fuse for the cabin lights & as a result, have no dash lights either while driving in the dark. I've not gone to Kia as I am sure it will cost way more than I can afford. I'm reduced to using a flashlight when on long road trips to check gas gauge & speedometer.

- Orlando, FL, USA

problem #10

Jan 052010


  • miles
I bought a 2003 Kia Sorento about 6 years ago and I've had a lot of problems. The worst and most recent problem is the gas spews out of the tank every time I try to fill it. It runs down the side of the car and on my wheel. Sometimes it gets on me. This has been going on for several months now. If you pump very slow and stop every.80 cents it lessens the amount of times it spews out, but this is so very timely. The gas gauge periodically goes out. The horn has never worked. The power steering periodically goes out. When using cruise control it will periodically go off on it's own. The paint looks horrible and has peeled off on the side mirrors. The leather seats have not held up well. The dome light will not work when you open the door, but if you press the dome light button it will come on. Periodically the dash lights have flickered and I'm wondering if they are about to go out. I've already had to replace the ac compressor and the drive shaft, both of which have really set me back financially. I really want to get the gas tank issue fixed as it is the worst issue at hand and I fear it could be dangerous.

- Lebanon, TN, USA

problem #9

Oct 282010


  • 36,000 miles


I have had my 2003 Kia Sorento since March 2010. It was purchased with 32,000 miles on it, and as of the end of October 2010, it had 36,000 miles. So far, I have had to replace the coolant reservoir, because it was cracked. I was driving, and it overheated out of nowhere. It was in the shop for four days, because they could not find the problem even after doing several pressurized systems tests. At the end of October 2010, I had to replace the oil pump, because it had a crack in it. No one anywhere I called could believe I had to replace an oil pump. All the mechanics stated that's one of the few things they never have to replace on any vehicle, and certainly not at 36,000 miles. Anyway, due to oil leaking onto the timing belt, that had to be replaced also. The timing belt was in fine condition otherwise. Consequently, I now have engine problems. I'm sure the engine will have to be replaced from overheating and then having no oil. At high rpms, you can hear a slight tick, which I'm pretty sure is a lifter issue. Headlights burn out quickly. I was driving one day, and both burnt out at the same time. I had to drive on high beams in the city. Constant electrical problems with the dash. Dash lights rarely work, and then all of a sudden all the lights will start flashing here and there - dash lights flash on/off, ceiling light flashes on/off, all back and forth while I'm driving in the dark. Very distracting, especially in traffic. The truck itself (seats, comfort, etc.) is awesome, but it was definitely manufactured poorly. Worst purchase ever. Glad I bought the 5 star warranty or I'd be paying for a truck I can't drive.

- Chicago, IL, USA

problem #8

Dec 222009


  • 45,000 miles
I purchased my 03 Kia Sorento in 2004 and have had many issues since then. I have had to replace lights from the front to the back numerous times. I've been driving down our remote country road at night and had my headlights go out. My coolant tank cracked and left me stranded on another country road in the snow last year. I later found out it was recalled for that particular defect; after I had it replaced. The lighting issue is my biggest concern right now because of where I live (remote country roads, deer at night, etc) I have to have properly functioning headlights at all times. Now, I am having problems concerning the bearings on it. It makes a horrible screeching noise that is now; almost continuous. It doesn't matter the temperature outside, driving conditions, etc. It has become harder to steer and the power steering fluid is fine. I don't feel safe in this vehicle anymore, and I cannot afford to just go out and buy something new. I just ask that if fault lies with Kia; then they should fix it at their expense....not mine! I have invested way too much time, money and patience thus far and feel it's Kia's responsibility to make sure they create a vehicle that functions properly. And when they don't...fix it!!! as for the questions below; was there a fire"...not yet!!! was there property damage?....there probably will be when my bearings go out and the wheels fall off! where there any deaths or injuries"....dear lord, I pray every time I get in my truck that nothing like that ever happens to me or my son....but; with an unreliable vehicle that has constant electrical and mechanical problem; then who knows....

- Attica, IN, USA

problem #7

Apr 052009


  • miles
2003 Kia Sorento, purchased used with 11,000 miles on it. Has been a nightmare since the day I bought it! head gaskets warped at 28,000 miles, overheated without warning, no spike in temp gauge, wham smoke from everywhere and even with proof of maintenance upkeep it took Kia 2 months to decide to honor the warranty. This was after the check engine light would come on every two seconds and have to be in the shop for months for them to say nothing wrong with it, even when it was towed in every time because it would just shut off. Then the headlight issues are insane. Every other month and that is no exaggeration I have to replace either low beams, high beams, brake lights & tail lights.

- Reisterstown, MD, USA

problem #6

Feb 012008

Sorento 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 72,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Kia sorrento. While driving 45 mph, the vehicle began to overheat. The contact inspected the vehicle and notice the coolant was low. Approximately a week later he inspected the vehicle again noticed that there was a crack in the reservoir tank. He replaced the reservoir tank. As of April 15, 2008, the dealer had not inspected the vehicle. In addition, the driver side headlights, tail lights and brake lights failed intermittently. As of April 15, 2008, the dealer had not inspected the vehicle for this failure. The contact felt that the electrical system caused the failure. The failure mileage was 72,000 and current mileage was 76,000.

- Cordova, AL, USA

problem #5

Nov 252005

Sorento 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 34,600 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Kia Sorento. The contact stated that after he gets an oil change, the vehicle's exterior and interior lights blow out. As of May 17, 2007, the dome light is currently out and has been since November 25, 2005. Kia motors stated that even though her vehicle was under warranty, she still had to pay for the repair costs. Kia also stated that in order to keep her warranty, the contact would need to pay $1,000 plus the repair costs. The dealer and the manufacturer have not provided a satisfactory explanation as to what is causing the failure. The failure has occurred approximately eight times. She stated that the battery had to be replaced even though it was also still under warranty. The engine size was unknown. The current mileage is 62,000 and failure mileage was 34,600. The dealer stated gas pedal sticks when accelerating. The consumer stated she hd to purchase 2 batteries. Updated 06/07/07

- Nt. Hope, WV, USA

problem #4

Apr 012003

Sorento 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 1,500 miles
Vehicle is a 2003 Kia Sorento with 70,000 miles, purchased new. Vehicle appears to have serious electrical issues. I have, to date, replaced light bulbs approximately 38 times. This includes head light bulbs (high and low), fog light bulbs, tail light bulbs and brake light bulbs. Also the clock only works intermittently and the power sun roof has ceased working. Dealer offers no solution. This has been ongoing since the first month of ownership.

- Midwest City, OK, USA

problem #3

Feb 012003

Sorento 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
2003 Kia Sorento, headlights since new have continued to burn out (theirs/ours any manufacture) it does not make a difference if they install or walmart (except for price$$$) parts and labor now exceeds $500 and now my wife has both to burn out at approximately the same time. Dealers (3) have stated it was the alarm which was installed when we purchased the vehicle new. The frustration has now reached the point we must get rid of it.

- Mesa, AZ, USA

problem #2

Mar 082006

Sorento 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 30,000 miles
Have had nothing but problems with the dash clock going out, headlamps-6 times now, and brake lamps 3X in 3 months! was told by service dept at Kia that the car over charges itself causing problems with the electrical system. Wrote Kia a letter trying to get them to take care of the problem or pay me back for this car and buy it back on 3/7/06.

- Napa, CA, USA

problem #1

Nov 072005

Sorento 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
Electrical failure, cooling system failure, rough running-engine misfire purchased car 2-22-2003 brand new this car has spent a lot of time on the dealers lift. Also has seen its share of tow trucks. In the past 1 1/2 years I have replaced 18 left side headlights,23 right side head light,16 fog lights,8 license plate lights and 6 tail lights the truck has been to 3 dealers and they all say its either normal or it's only because I did not buy the bulbs from Kia well some I did and they do not last either. The last time it was in they had the truck for 9 1/2 minutes and told us there is nothing wrong and for $149 they will put in a new bulb. No warranty on how long it will last..... the truck also misfires and the dealer also cannot fix it they say the computer says its good so it must be good. Well you can feel the misfire even the dealers mechanic stated it is misfiring but he cannot fix it maybe after the warranty is over we will be able to find the problem..... another problem is the cooling system in the past 3 years it has had the recovery tank replaced 2 times the radiator replaced the connecting Y behind the motor replaced... I have spent over $200 on rent a cars with no help from Kia each time my car is towed in this car is still under warranty so why cant they fix it O yeah the last thing is the fog lights are melting or shall I say its the inside chrome coating is burning and I was told its not warranty and there about $85 each why wont Kia meet with me "????????????" can anyone please help me.

- Boynton Beach, FL, USA

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