hardly worth mentioning
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 1
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
59,686 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 engine problems

engine problem

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2003 Kia Sorento Owner Comments (Page 2 of 3)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #25

Mar 222009


  • 83,000 miles


Kia informed me of a "crank shaft bolt" recall for my 2003 Sorento LX. 3 days after having this repair performed, my car began to just "die" at high speeds on the freeway, but it was intermittent and the Kia dealership told me they probably wouldn't be able to find the problem if they couldn't recreate it. An internet search on the issue reveals many consumers having this same problem which ultimately turns out to be a defective "crank shaft sensor" -- but Kia service jerks people around and keeps their cars for days/weeks saying that they "cannot recreate the problem". this is a huge safety issue when your vehicle just suddenly dies on the freeway with absolutely no warning... not even sputtering. I printed out several consumer accounts describing my exact problem--revealing it's ultimately the crank shaft sensor, and Kia is refusing to acknowledge the relationship between their repair work and the likelihood that it's the crank shaft sensor -- admittedly holding my vehicle without even reviewing the basic diagnostics.

- Pleasanton, CA, USA

problem #24

Jan 302009


  • 78,000 miles
My engine blew on the car it only has about 78,000 miles on it gets regular oil changes and no major problems. I have never had a warning light come on as to indicate I had some oil or engine problems. The car had just been involved in an auto accident and been sitting since 12/15 I just got it back on 01/23 and the engine blows on 01/30 and they want to charge me $5,000 to replace......I have heard things about Kia engines but my SUV was in fine condition and all of a sudden my engines blows....sounds like a defect to me.

- Cincinnati, OH, USA

problem #23

Jan 152009


  • 105,000 miles
The check engine light keeps coming on and it has been checked by a dealership and they don't know the problem, the front headlamps keep burning out.

- Wahoo, NE, USA

problem #22

Jan 282009


  • 50,000 miles


Check engine light will not shut off. Vehicle has been to the dealer several times. Dealership has at times been rude and the problem still exists. They do not know how to fix it. Also have problems with headlights burning out very regularly and the back hatch will no longer open.

- Deer Park, WA, USA

problem #21

Sep 102008


  • 100,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Kia Sorento. While driving between 35-40 mph, the motor in the cooling fan failed. The motor was attempting to turn over; however, it could not because the fuse in the fuse box did not blow out as it should. The wire from the terminal blocker melted into the fuse box. This caused the wires to burn and the passenger compartment became engulfed in smoke. The vehicle was driven home and did not catch on fire. The vehicle has two safety features, one in the terminal block and the other in the fuse box, but they did not work. The contact called Kia and was informed that the warranty ended at 60,000 miles. The VIN was unknown. The failure mileage was 100,000.

- Panama Beach , FL, USA

problem #20

Feb 012008


  • 41,000 miles
Engine light came on back in February and had it to two different mechanic shops which replaced spark plugs and one coil pack. Engine light still on so I took to Kia dealer and they replaced spark plugs with platnium ones and replaced other 2 coil packs. Vehicle has been back to dealer several times for the past several months for check engine light replacing intake manifold due to recall but light came back on and they have had my vehicle most recently for the past 4 weeks. I went to pick it up yesterday as they said they had to replace the cylinder heads with reconditioned ones and all gaskets and seals. As I started to leave the dealership light came back on and vehicle is there again. Obviously mechanics at dealers don't know what's causing these problems and cannot fix them. I feel that Kia should buy everyone out of their Sorentos plus give them the value of the vehicle (without deducting for problems) plus a 15% compensation for putting the customers through this or maybe put a brand new engine in vehicle. A new engine or remanufactured engine was replaced in this vehicle back in August, 2006. I originally put my date down as March, but looking back, this has been going on since February!! this is the second complaint I am filing.

- Morrisville, PA, USA

problem #19

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 #18

Jan 282008

Sorento 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 66,400 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Kia Sorento. While driving 60 mph, the vehicle failed without warning. The vehicle was towed to the dealer and they stated that they would have to disassemble the engine at the cost of $861. The dealer replaced the head gaskets, water pump assembly, and the coolant tank reservoir. The total repair cost was $1,691. After returning home, the contact had to take the vehicle to his local dealer two weeks later and they stated that they would have to disassemble the engine in order to locate the failure. The dealer identified warped cylinders as being the failure component, and the head gaskets, pump assembly, and the coolant tank reservoir were replaced again. The vehicle is currently at the dealer being repaired. The failure mileage was 66,400 and current mileage is 66,800. The coolant reservoir leaked which caused the vehicle to overheat. Updated 05/13/08.

- Summerville, SC, USA

problem #17

Mar 012007


  • miles
Like many 2003 Kia Sorento owners the overflow tank in mine developed a crack in the bottom that is only visible when it is pressurized. Although Kia knows there is a problem with the overflow tank in most if not all 2003 Kia Sorento's and has sent out a tsb to their mechanics over how to replace it. As soon as my car had overheated due to the leak, I had to pay around $100 to buy a new tank from the nearest dealership but alas after over heating my car developed more problems and engine having to be thrown out. This has cost me over $4300 in repairs so far, and have not been able to drive the car I am still making monthly payments on in nine months. None of which are covered to the warranty due to their "10 year 100,000 mile" powertrain warranty not being transferable to those who buy the car used.

- Houston, TX, USA

problem #16

Aug 312007

Sorento 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 86,000 miles
Coolant spilling from the reservoir (which was replaced in December 2006, the part was on national back order. I waited 5 weeks for the part to arrive). The car stalled several times and steam came from the right side of the hood. Today is 8/31/07, similar incident happened with the car. The dealer said that the hose from the coolant reservoir was cracked. I asked since the part was related to the reservoir why did I have to pay additional for the hose repair ($193.30). The dealer said the hose was a separate part. I don't understand why Kia doesn't recall the reservoir and any associated parts.

- Stone Mountain, GA, USA

problem #15

Jul 202007


  • Automatic transmission
  • 68,000 miles


On July 20, 2007 driving home from work in the rain, on the highway my car made a loud noise and I lost steering and did everything I could to not hit cars beside of me and the poor guy behind me from crashing in to me. Called my husband who came and picked up the harmonic balance off the highway, lifted the hood to find a large bolt (now I know crankshaft bolt) broken. Which I have. I searched and found where there were several complaints and that Kia was going to recall. I called Kia on the 1st of Aug. (car has been sitting in my driveway because it has 68000 miles and I am the second owner), who had my car towed to the rusty wallace Kia in louisville, tn. (checked the mail when I came home and there was a recall on crankshaft bolts) imagine that. It is still sitting there at the dealership. They keep telling me the district manager is trying to decide whether or not to fix it. I had spoken to a couple of tech's. and they told me my motor was gone. The bolt broke off inside the motor. Kia is now jerking me around. I have had to put off vacation and my husband and I are sharing a vehicle which is costing me a fortune in gas because we work in opposite directions and I work about 30 miles from my home. Can not get any help. I have researched and found huge complaints about this. Kia has known about this.

- Strawberry Plains, TN, USA

problem #14

Jun 252007

Sorento 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 63,000 miles
I was dropping off someone at work when the car made a thump and all the dash warning lights came on. I drove it home about two miles away, and took it to a automobile service center the next day. They told me that the crankshaft pulley was ready to fall off. The next day I had it towed from the service center to the dealer. The dealer said the same thing as the service center, and that it was under warranty. Also, it a needed a 60000 mile service for which I paid extra. When I went to pick the car 5 days later the car was making a belt noise, it was slow in starting, the dash light wouldn't come on, and the airbag light was on. When I took it back to the dealer, they tightened the belts and checked the other problems at a cost of $150, and that these other problems were not under warranty, and would cost $1400 to fix them. I have never had a problem with this car until the crankshaft pulley failed, and could not see why if a warranty failure caused something else to fail, why wasn't it fixed under warranty? also, the person who worked on the ca rcomplained about the oil pan with the sealer that was used to seal the engine.

- Northville, MI, USA

problem #13

May 232007

Sorento 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 61,000 miles
No warning of failure. Happened at 61000 miles 1000 over warranty. Crankshaft bolt broke, and the mechanic sad he never saw something like this. So I think Kia should be responsible..he got the parts from Kia, and on 7/15/07 the bolt came off again while car was in parking lot of wife's work place. Kia should fix it. I was planning on getting a mini van, and it won't be a Kia, depending on what they do about my serento.

- Oak Grove , MO, USA

problem #12

May 182007

Sorento 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 33,000 miles
Crankshsft pulley bolt broke on 2003 Kia Sorento V6 model. This caused loss of power steering in vehicle.

- Warren, PA, USA

problem #11

Apr 302007

Sorento 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 64,000 miles
As I was driving down the freeway, the engine stalled and all lights on the dash came on. I was able to pull to safety (just by sheer luck) and called Kia 1-800 for towing service. The vehicle was towed to an authorized dealership. I was initially told that the timing belt was malfunctioning. Supposedly the analyzer showed that there were "multiple misfires. I was asked if the car was missing prior to the stall. I told them it ran as smooth as silk. I authorized them to replace the timing belt despite the fact that it had been replaced as part of scheduled maintenance two months earlier. The dealership then called and told me they had "good news and bad news". the timing belt was repaired but it appeared the head was blown and that Kia refused to pay for repairs because the overflow bottle was cracked. They stated that the head blew because the engine overheated and was caused by my negligence. The gauges never indicated that the car overheated. They are unable to tell me how much the repairs will cost because there may be further damage once they tear it down. The estimate is between $2500 and "wore case scenario" $4700 I am furious. The car is not yet four years old and still has 36,000 miles left on the warranty.

- Mission, TX, USA

problem #10

Feb 102007

Sorento 4WD

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
I have now had the crank shaft pulley break 3 times, the engine and other parts have had to be replaced due to this. It makes the vehicle suddenly inoperable and unsafe.

- El Granada, CA, USA

problem #9

Dec 172006

Sorento 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 67,290 miles
A screw that hold the crank shaft & the tamper get broken while I was driving to my house. The dealer in puerto rico said that I have to pay$2,521 to fix it. But I heard from an insurance agent that Kia was told by some government Agency, I think that Agency is NHTSA; to modify the screw involved in my incident, causing the lost control of my Sorento. The steering get hard to move.

- San Juan, PR, USA

problem #8

Dec 132006

Sorento 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 45,000 miles
: the contact stated while attempting to turn on the defogger/defrost system, the heater failed to operate, and no heat was present. The vehicle was inspected by a dealer, who determined antifreeze fluid leaked out of the reservoir tank because it was fractured and needed to be replaced. The replacement parts were not available at the dealer, and the manufacturer was alerted, who confirmed the parts were not available. The dealer instructed the contact to monitor the level of antifreeze fluid daily and add more antifreeze if needed.

- Chicago, IL, USA

problem #7

Nov 062006

Sorento 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 71,000 miles
First incident - car stalled and fluid steamed from the hood. It had to be towed after several restarts to drive to the dealer. The coolant reservoir was cracked. This part is on national backorder and I have so far been waiting approx. Four weeks for the part. The dealer said Kia has halted manufacturing/distributing the part just for new cars and requested that the parts be shipped to the dealers for repair installations. The dealer customer service is great and I have no complaint about the dealer.

- Stone Mountain, GA, USA

problem #6

Oct 312006

Sorento 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 40,000 miles
Where do I start"....well not long after we got the piece of junk we had to take it to the Kia dealer because the engine light kept coming on, they said it was because the gas cap wasn't being twisted enough and air got in. Well for about 2 weeks the engine light stayed off, we took it back numerous times but it kept coming back on. Then on one occasion I was stranded about 40 miles from home...the car was dead, we had it towed to the dealer, all the belts had come off, they tried to make excuses why Kia wouldn't fix it under the warranty, thank god we won that battle...keep in mind, the engine light is still on at this point. Now this year the heater won't stay hot after about 30 seconds it turns cold, as cold as the air. Then with no warning the car over heats and dies on me. We have it towed to the dealer they say it is my fault because when I seen the light come on I should have pulled over, "the light never goes off" Kia won't fix it unless we pay for it, and the cost is $10,000. We have one year left and it would be paid off...less than $7,000 and now this. I am so angry, this is not right. I think the Kia company needs to be investigated. Something needs to be done they are ripping everyone off. Taking money from working people and scamming them. They are no better than thieves and liars. They are selling a product along with a promise to service it should something go wrong but not honoring that promise. Oh and did I mention the head lights are always going out"

- Vandalia, IL, USA

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