Notes: Kia really changed the design of the Sorento in the 2011 model year. Instead of a truck-like body-on-frame more capable of offroad adventures, the newest Sorento is a unibody construction and is much more crossover than sport utility. The changes brought a whole slew of problems, including a frustrating problem where the door that won’t open. Is it too late to go back?


really awful
Crashes / Fires:
7 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
6 / 0
Average Mileage:
37,880 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.

2011 Kia Sorento drivetrain problems

drivetrain problem

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2011 Kia Sorento Owner Comments (Page 1 of 7)

problem #125

Nov 012016


  • 79,000 miles


The contact owns a 2011 Kia Sorento. While attempting to shift the vehicle into any gear, a loud popping noise could be heard from the front passenger side of the vehicle. When the brake pedal was released, the vehicle would not move forward and rolled backwards. The contact mentioned that the vehicle had to be turned off and restarted in order to resume normal operation. There were no warning indicators illuminated. The vehicle was not diagnosed or repaired. The VIN was not included in NHTSA campaign number: 11V258000 (power train). The manufacturer was made aware of the issue. The VIN was invalid. The failure mileage was 79,000.

- Burkesville, KY, USA

problem #124

Nov 282016


  • 150,000 miles
Vehicle started grinding with no prior issues at a stop sign. Would not move at all. Towed to mechanic and was told that the intermediate shaft had broken. Found previous recalls for this exact problem on other 2011 Kia Sorento 2 wheel drive 4 cylinder models, the exact same make, model, and year as our own. Called Kia and was informed that there was indeed a recall, however it was not in effect for my VIN. The same model, year, everything. Just not my VIN. Very expensive repair that will likely require the replacement of the transmission. Kia is aware of a problem with these intermediate shafts and is not properly repairing thousands of vehicles.

- Valley Center, KS, USA

problem #123

Jul 102016


  • 131,144 miles
Vehicle suddenly lost power while turning out of church parking lot. Applying accel pedal barely powered the vehicle but made metallic grinding noise. Pulled over and put vehicle in park, but park did not stop vehicle from rolling downhill. Parking brake was applied until vehicle could be towed home. On inspection, right drive shaft and transmission output gear were both found to have worn. There was a recall and service had already been performed on the vehicle to prevent this failure (RC079-Sorento (xm) intermediate shaft repair (2wd vehicles).

- Tehachapi, CA, USA

problem #122

Aug 292016


  • 95,000 miles


Headlight low beam bulbs are burning out at the rate of one (1) to two (2) weeks. The left bulb burned out a couple of years ago. Approximately a month ago both of the low beam bulbs burned out at night when my wife was driving home from church. She almost wrecked before she turned the lights on high beam. Since then the left side bulb had burned out twice. I have replace these bulbs at a cost of approximately $15 each. I am afraid that the lights are going to go out when driving when it is not possible to change to high beam. The last bulb burned out just last night when it was dark.

- Tappahannock, VA, USA

problem #121

Jul 012015


  • 52,000 miles
2011 Sorento shift really hard, sometimes I have to force it to shift by lowering speed, sometimes it does not want to shift at all and then my engine light comes on, then shifts really hard and wants to stop on me as I am driving. Sometimes at a light it does die, but then start back up. One time it would not go even with pushing the gas all the way down.

- Kansas City, KS, USA

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problem #120

Jan 012016

Sorento 4-cyl

  • 91,000 miles
Having trouble with service dept of local dealer regarding driver's side axle as it enters the drivers side transmission case. Dealer tells me it's normal for this amount of "play" - they say it is designed this way for going over bumps - don't believe them at all as I know that the cv joint handles the bumps. I know that the shaft and the bearing are a very precise fit and there should not be any play. There is a grinding noise when slowing down and a fluttering/clicking noise when I pop the vehicle in neutral at about 50 mph (this is probably the splines on the end of the shaft not mating into the differential correctly - misaligned - because the bearing has failed). Dealer keeps telling us it's either our brakes or tires. They have checked the brakes 4 times already and found nothing but they do acknowledge the grinding noise is still there. This vehicle is dangerous to drive in this condition as the symptoms keep getting worse. It has been at the dealer's service department this time for 6 days already. The vehicle is still under the 100,000 Kia drive train warranty (vehicle has 91,000 miles on it). I have sent the video along with this same note to Would like your opinion of what the amount of movement signifies on the axle as shown in the video - pretty sure it is evidence of a failed bearing (which has led to further damage within to the differential and shaft splines). Thank you!

- Middletown, DE, USA

problem #119

Jun 102016


  • 85,000 miles


The contact owns a 2011 Kia Sorento. While driving, the contact heard an abnormal noise underneath the vehicle. When the vehicle was parked and restarted, it failed to engage in gear. The vehicle was towed to an independent mechanic to be diagnosed. The contact was informed that the transmission failed and needed to be repaired. The vehicle was not included in NHTSA campaign number: 11V258000 (power train). The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 85,000.

- Port Orange, FL, USA

problem #118

May 022016


  • 68,000 miles
At 68,000 miles the oil pressure sensor (part #94750-37100) failed and caused a sudden and immediate loss of all engine oil. In the half mile it took us to safely pull over the oil pressure light activated and the dip stick read bone dry. I have researched the issue and found it to be a common problem with Kia's, a recall should be issued to replace the part with a better engineered version. Had we not been alert / aware of what was going on the engine could have seized and all power could have been lost while in motion.

- Hudson, OH, USA

problem #117

Apr 302016


  • 27,000 miles
While driving along a rural road at 50 to 55 mph, on five separate occasions over the last 3 years, our 2011 Kia Sorento has suddenly and harshly downshifted from sixth gear to about fourth gear. When this occurs, the jar is similar to having hit a large animal in the road and the entire car shakes. The transmission will not shift up or down after this event and stays in that lower gear until the vehicle is turned off, then turned back on. After doing so, the transmission shifts properly. The vehicle has been to the dealer four times, two of which there were no codes showing from transmission operation. A transmission temperature sensor was replaced, with no further events for over a year. The latest episode delivered a code P0748 and the service technician completed a tsb038 tcm upgrade. The vehicle has only 27,000 miles.

- Pensacola, FL, USA

problem #116

Feb 102016


  • 91,000 miles
The contact owns a 2011 Kia Sorento. The contact stated that the service engine warning light randomly flashed. While the vehicle was in park or in gear, there was an abnormal noise heard near the engine. The contact stated that there was a build up of sludge near the axle and it was uncertain what type of fluid may have been releasing. The manufacturer stated that the VIN was not included in NHTSA campaign number: 11V258000 (power train). The vehicle was not diagnosed nor repaired. The VIN was included in NHTSA campaign number: 15V626000 (power train). The approximate failure mileage was 91,000. Parts distribution disconnect.

- Boynton Beach, FL, USA

problem #115

Feb 012016


  • 52,000 miles


The contact owns a 2011 Kia Sorento. When the vehicle was placed into any gear, it would not respond. When the gear was placed in reverse, the vehicle would remain in neutral or park. When placed in drive gear, the vehicle would be in neutral or reverse. The vehicle was taken to a dealer where it was determined that a recall was placed on the transmission and the contact was informed it was repaired. As soon as the contact received the vehicle, the failure recurred. The manufacturer was not made aware of the failure. The NHTSA campaign number was unknown. The failure mileage was 52,000.

- Houston, TX, USA

problem #114

Sep 252015


  • 65,000 miles
The Sorento lurches at slower speeds and engine light comes on. It appears as if the transmission is slipping. At higher speeds it does not occur. The code from the engine light analysis is P0713 (transmission fluid temperature sensor). Kia forum shows a number of people have similar complaints.

- Hawthorn Woods, IL, USA

problem #113

Nov 052015

Sorento 6-cyl

  • 72,078 miles
The contact owns a 2011 Kia Sorento. While trying to start the vehicle and going in reverse, the vehicle lunged and did not move due to the shifter not functioning properly. The vehicle made an abnormal noise. The vehicle was able to be operated by shifting the vehicle into park and going back into reverse. The ABS sensor and traction control sensor illuminated. The vehicle was not diagnosed or repaired. The manufacturer was not notified. The failure mileage was 72,078. Updated 02/12/16 the consumer stated he went to the dealer for a failed transmission and a problem with the ABS sensors on the rear wheel hubs. Updated 03/31/16.

- Melbourne, FL, USA

problem #112

Oct 082015


  • 72,316 miles
The ABS, ESC, and dbc lights stay on when I start car and drive it at all speeds.

- Strawberry Plains, TN, USA

problem #111

Oct 152015


  • 80,000 miles
Started noticing check engine light come on on occasion. Noticed chugging as I changed gears. P code P0711 was found.

- Blackfoot, ID, USA

problem #110

May 012015


  • 98,000 miles
2011 Kia Sorento airbag light came on out the blue. Took to dealership was advised either defective passanger airbag or the sensor for passenger seat. Would have to pay $$$ to put on diagnostic. Car jerks forward when switching gears. Also, car just accelerated by itself.. put the car in park and it jerks forward. Its jerks so hard I could get the car doesn't want to stop.scarriest thing ever. I am really concerned how sometimes I don't even have to press the brake to put in gear. Last, went to change headlight, rightside extremely jot and could hear boiling like something cooking.

- Union City, GA, USA

problem #109

Oct 202012


  • 30,000 miles
The contact owns a 2011 Kia Sorento. The contact stated that the gear shift unintentionally switched gears independently without warning. In addition, the contact mentioned that the vehicle jerked forward. The vehicle was not diagnosed or repaired. The manufacturer was not notified of the failure. The VIN was not included in NHTSA campaign number: 15V626000 (power train). The failure mileage was 30,000.

- Fort Smith, AR, USA

problem #108

Oct 082015


  • 69,000 miles
Vehicle falls out of gear when I'm slowly backing up in reverse gear or slowly starting to drive forward at just about 2 mph. I try to accelerate but my vehicle doesn't move. Also, on a few occasions, the vehicle clunked/jerked backward or forward very aggressively (feeling like it hit another car when nothing is nearby) which has caused me to fear hitting something or someone. The car does not seem to recognize when it is in gear.

- Northridge, CA, USA

problem #107

Oct 022015


  • 78,000 miles
We purchased a used 2011 Kia Sorento from an individual. The vehicle had roughly 19,000 miles. The car was fine until approximately 35,000 miles. While leaving from a stationary position, on the interstate or just main roads, the transmission started slipping, lurching, and at times would not engage. We took the car to our loacal Kia dealer and were told that they could not find anything wrong. At roughly 45,000 we again took it to the dealer and got the same response. At 58,000 the car would hardly drive so we took it back in. The dealer told us that the computer wasn't giving them any codes but could tell there was a problem. After going back and forth, Kia replaced the transmission. Now at 78,000 miles, we're having a O take it in for transmission issues and the car is making terrible noises. We took it out O the dealer and were told at first that there was nothing wrong. Later in the afternoon they came back and said our intermediate drive shaft needed to be replaced. Cost $598. After some research, I saw you that there was a recall on my model year cars, but my VIN number did not fall into the recall. How can they tell me that these issues have nothing to do with the recall for the intermediate shaft!"!? these failures fit the recall details exactly. Why weren't the bad shafts caught and replaced when the transmission was replaced" I asked the dealer about the recall and was told my VIN did not fit the recall. I called Kia and was told that my VIN has no open recalls. Basically again my "VIN" was not in the recall. All the exact same issues, but the problems have nothing to do with the original 2011 recall. Kia/Hyundai are the only car manufacturers that do not transfer their 100,000 mile 10 year power train warranty to a 2nd owner unless it's purchased through a dealership. It's frustrating that a large car manufacturer will not just do the right thing.

- Juliette, GA, USA

problem #106

Aug 032015


  • 31,430 miles
The contact owns a 2011 Kia Sorento. Upon switching gears from reverse to drive, there was hesitation from the driveshaft before the vehicle would move forward. The vehicle was not diagnosed or repaired. The manufacturer was not notified of the failure. The failure mileage was 31,430.

- Oakland , CA, USA

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