Notes: As long as catastrophic engine failure at under 60,000 miles is the top owner complaint, it'll be pretty hard to recommend the 2012 Sorento.


definitely annoying
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 1
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
33,997 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.

2012 Kia Sorento electrical problems

electrical problem

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2012 Kia Sorento Owner Comments (Page 1 of 2)

problem #36

Sep 132016


  • 85,000 miles


I purchased a new 2012 Kia Sorento and was very excited about the 10 yr / 100,000 miles warranty ( a big part in the decision ) to purchase this vehicle. In September 2016 the car was unable to start, the mechanic stated the starter was the problem. I called Kia and was told I should have taken the car to a Kia dealer for evaluation, and further more the starter was not covered, even. Though there is a list of items not covered and the starter is not one of them.

- Lithonia, GA, USA

problem #35

Sep 212016


  • 56,500 miles
The contact owns a 2012 Kia Sorento. While driving approximately 60 mph, the passenger side low beam headlight failed. The contact had to switch to the high beams in order to get home. The same failure occurred three other times on the same side of the vehicle. The contact drove the vehicle to the dealer where it was determined that the manufacturer utilized the wrong size wire. The vehicle has been at the dealer three times for the same failure this month and the harness had to be replaced. The manufacturer was not notified of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 56,500.

- Kempner, TX, USA

problem #34

Mar 092013


  • 6,000 miles
The vehicle grossly lost power and came to a near stop which almost caused collision with vehicles traveling at speed limit behind me. While traveling normally at the posted 55 mph speed the vehicle slowed immediately to nearly moving. This happened multiple times which I reported to the Kia dealer each time. The dealer did not correctly diagnose the problem until after the third report.

- Phoenixville, PA, USA

problem #33

Jul 012016


  • 40,000 miles


The gauges on the dashboard randomly change to include the mpg going up and down like a roller coaster. This has occurred multiple times. I've informed the dealer about it multiple times. They state they do not see any problem.

- Phoenixville, PA, USA

problem #32

Jul 072016


  • 59,000 miles
I was driving my son to school on a city street and stopped at a stop sign then tried to accelerate and all of the lights on the dash began flashing and the car just shut-off. I put my car in park and restarted it. This type of incident has happened twice before and the dealership just tells me to keep bringing it in. They can never find what the problem is.

- Downey, CA, USA

problem #31

May 222016


  • 43,000 miles
Kia occasionally fails to start using the electronic ignition button.

- Vilas, NC, USA

problem #30

Apr 262016


  • 73,500 miles


While driving at 45mph my car shut off in the middle of the road (city.) no warning whatsoever, no check engine light, no check oil light...nothing. I could not steer it nor restart it. My lights all dimmed. Had it towed to a garage and they said they've had 3 of the same cars with the same issue in their shop. They told me there was no oil in it, but no leak. They put oil in it and jumped it, then took it for a test run and the vehicle stalled. The oil became thick and dirty, with metal in it as well. I was lucky that I was on my way home from work at midnight and there wasn't much traffic. I'm scared to drive it now, especially since I have a 150 mile drive in a few weeks. Called Kia and they told me I need documentation of all oil changes...fine, I can get that. From what I've been reading though I don't feel Kia will provide a solution to this problem that has, from what I've read, plagued many owners. I bought my car new in 2011. It hasn't even hit the 5 year mark yet, this is unacceptable and very dangerous. What if I had been on the highway with a tractor-trailer behind me" too scary. Considering all the people with the same issue...why hasn't there been a recall"

- Turtle Creek, PA, USA

problem #29

Oct 212015


  • 83,704 miles
After sitting for two days, the unit wouldn't respond to smart key. Initially thought smart key battery was dead. I replaced battery in smart key, but the vehicle still wouldn't respond. I had to use mechanical key to unlock and enter unit when I noticed that neither the interior lights were working nor would the 'start' button activate engine or any auxiliary functions. Boosted unit and took to a nearby shop. Shut off engine and waited a few seconds, and it did restart; but left with shop to see if battery had a bad cell (the reason it wouldn't start). The shop indicated that both the alternator and battery needing replacing. The shop supervisor stated that the alternator wasn't properly charging the battery. I mentioned that the alternator/charge light never came on with me; but he stated that it will not always come on unless the alternator has really gotten bad. Replacement alternator cost $500 (excluding labor) for a unit that is only just over 4.25 years old, and with only 83,700 miles.

- Atlanta, GA, USA

problem #28

Sep 182015


  • 43,000 miles
Friday 9/18/15 10:40 am, backing out of parking spot slowly into a road. Engine suddenly failed, engine light came on, and the brakes completely failed. Was able to restart the car and park it again, but brakes still failed and had to use the emergency brake and the curb and tree at curb to stop vehicle. Towed to ed voyles Kia on peachtree industrial blvd in atlanta who found no record of the incident in computer and that all diagnostics were normal and they couldn't reproduce the problem, so there was nothing they could do. I sent them this link with others experiencing similar issues and told rep about others' then had it towed to cobb county Kia in kennessaw, ga. They maintained neglect on our part B/C oil level was at 0 (previous dealership saw no problem here), engine had major sludge and particles of metal in it, needed full engine replacement for $6500 didn't make sense with our regular oil changes and didn't explain the brake failure, though rep said it did. Had it towed to aaa car care plus in marietta. Could not reproduce the issue and said the car, including the engine, was in great shape, was full of all fluids. Mechanic also said that there were 0 records on computer and that one of dealerships likely wiped it completely clean. Have rented a car in meantime because my, my husband's, my two kids' and other drivers and pedestrians safety would be compromised. Other comments online mention problem more than once, some on the highway. Also remembered that my husband had had trouble starting the car a couple of months back, with no lights coming on at all. He got the battery checked out, and he was told it was fine. We relayed this to the mechanics too, but they seemed not to acknowledge the info. We cannnot and will not drive the car until it's resolved.

- Atlanta, GA, USA

problem #27

Aug 312015


  • 23,900 miles
Camera malfunctioning. Originally took vehicle in with camera problems in 09/2013. Service check could not duplicate problem. Said everything was fine. Have had same issues with camera working and not working off and on. Took in for service again for same issue with camera. Told at first by service tech. Our warranty was expired on item. Mileage on vehicle is 60,550. Informed them we purchased extended warranty. Had to go home and bring in proof of warranty to service dept. Which I did then was told I had to take it to dealer where I purchased it. For replacement part. Matt castrussi in dayton, Ohio (dealership closest to where I live) would not replace part. Had to take it to Kia of dayton, Ohio for replacement part.

- Waynesville, OH, USA

problem #26

Jul 162015


  • 48,000 miles


Upon arrival at my destination the car would not turn off. I had to press the ignition off button several time before the car would shut off. There were times would have to sit in the car about 5-7 minutes trying to get the car to turn off.

- Powder Springs, GA, USA

problem #25

Mar 042014

Sorento 4-cyl

  • 90,000 miles
Have to replace the bulb in my headlight. Used to be every 4-5 months. Now, it's 3 times in the last two weeks. After taking it to shop, wiring is shorting out, melting plastic around bulb and connection to car. Can not just replace little socket, like in most cars, Kia wants you to replace the entire wiring harness, to the tune of over $500 for the part alone, not counting labor. After searching online, found thousands of complaints about the same issue for the last 9-10 years.

- Crawfordville, FL, USA

problem #24

Jan 162015

Sorento 6-cyl

  • miles
The first incident occurred at a traffic light. I went to accelerate and realized that the car had shut itself off. I put it in park, and restarted it without incident. When I brought it into the dealership, they said there was nothing they could do and that I should bring it in as soon as it happens next time. The second time, March 28, 2015, I was trying to pull into a parking spot when I was unable to turn the wheel. Again, I realized that the car had stalled, so I put it into park, and restarted it. While there was no harm done, my main concern is that something like this will happen while driving at a higher speed, and cause an accident. I have seen this same occurrence in other reviews and wonder why this is not more of a concern for the manufacturers. What will it take for a recall?

- Sarasota, FL, USA

problem #23

Mar 252015

Sorento 6-cyl

  • 60,000 miles
On Monday, March 23 at 8 pm, I arrived home and parked my car in our driveway close to our house. I loved up and went inside. At 4:30 am Wednesday morning, my son came into our bedroom saying be thought sunshine was trying to break into my car because the car alarm was going off. I went to the window to look out, and immediately see that the car was on fire. The flames appeared to be coming from the left driver's side tail light. We called 911. By the time the fire department arrived the whole back half of the car was on fire. The fire was roaring. The car was totaled. An arson investigator rolled out arson. It was the craziest thing I have ever witnessed and it was terrifyingly close to our house. The fire was already in our yard when the fire department arrived. I shutter to think what would have happened if my son had not woolen up when he had. The fire was so close to the gas tank, we are lucky there want a full on explosion. The weather was mild and dry when it happened and there was no deferred maintenance on the car. I simply can't imagine what could have caused the fire. My best guess is that something set of the car alarm which on turn shorted and sparked the fire in the flashing rear lights. It was a certified used vehicle and in perfect condition that I purchased in September 2014.

- Louisville, KY, USA

problem #22

Jan 102015

Sorento 6-cyl

  • 36,120 miles
I was driving at 55 mph when my battery light came on. Within several minutes every warning symbol light began to light up. My radio eventually shut down and the front dash lighting went out. I got off the highway and was able to drive for another couple of miles, but the engine power was dwindling. I eventually lost acceleration and power brakes and steering. My car has a push button start and I was unable to shut it off. The engine was running very roughly. I was unable to shift the car into park- only drive or neutral and could not get my flashers to come on. After 5-7 minutes, the car finally died and I could shift it into park and the hazard lights came on. I had my car towed to a Kia dealership and was told the following business day that my battery was completely dead and would have to be replaced before anything else could be checked. After the battery was replaced I was told the alternator was working fine. I am concerned about this incident as it created a very dangerous situation.

- Delmar, NY, USA

problem #21

Nov 282014


  • 36,000 miles
At dealership to possibly purchase used 2012 Kia Sorento. Vehicle would not start. Dealer had to jump start. Everything seemed ok and drove to nearby parking lot to look over the car. Left the car running in park and after 5 minutes various dash lights began to light up, engine would not accelerate, and the stop button would not shutdown the car. Eventually the engine labored and then stopped. Called dealer and we jump started the engine. On the way back to dealership (less than a mile) the engine labored, throttle would not respond, power steering got very heavy, and then the engine quit. This happened twice requiring jump starts. It died again entering the dealership. Battery had been replaced by dealership but troubleshooting determined the alternator was not charging. Sent to Kia dealership and they replaced the alternator.

- Lenoir City, TN, USA

problem #20

Oct 312014


  • 98,000 miles
I was driving to work at 55 mph and all the lights on the dash came on and my head lights shut off. My car restarted right after that and now it has done it three times since then. I am nervous when I drive because, I fear I will be stalled somewhere and it will be winter. I drive 47 miles one way to work. I am seriously thinking of trading the car off. I know I won't get anything for it but, at least I will be safe. We were told by Kia that if the car shuts off it is resetting the computer and they will be unable to diagnose if a dummy light doesn't stay on. I see there are more complaints about the same issue I am having with my Kia and I think Kia should do a recall on them. This is a serious issue and I think it needs to be resolved asap.

- Gaylord, MN, USA

problem #19

Sep 042014


  • miles
While driving at highway speeds all dashboard instrumentation, A/C and headlights were lost. It was later determined that a short in the driver's seat wiring harness had blown the fuse for control module #2 resulting in the aforementioned instrumentation and safety equipment.

- West Palm Beach, FL, USA

problem #18

Jun 102014


  • 25,000 miles
I was driving my car in a parking garage and without warning as I was making a left turn the car shut down completely, no lights, no engine, no power steering, stiff brakes. I was unable to even turn on my hazard lights. Someone was kind enough to help push my vehicle to the side and eventually I was able to restart the car. When I took it to the dealer, they found nothing and were unable to recreate the problem. This could be a real danger on the road and now my trust in the car is shaken! scary to see other people reporting the exact same problem.

- Nashville, TN, USA

problem #17

Aug 222013


  • 45,564 miles
I was driving my 2012 Kia Sorento on a flat residential road in fair weather and came to stop at a stop sign. After going forward about 20ft after the stop sign my car just died. It completely turned off, all electrical, the engine, everything and I had to put it in park to restart the engine. This has happened on 4 separate occasions, 1 time on a hill, 1 time in rush hour traffic with a tractor trailer behind me, and again on my way home in a residential area. I took the vehicle to the Kia dealership and was told that they could not re-create the problem and no error codes came up. I do not know what to do. I am scared for my life driving this car.

- Bowie, MD, USA

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