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.


really awful
Typical Repair Cost:
Average Mileage:
84,400 miles
Total Complaints:
32 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. replace engine (20 reports)
  2. not sure (12 reports)
2012 Kia Sorento engine problems

engine problem

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2012 Kia Sorento Owner Comments (Page 1 of 2)

problem #32

Jul 292016

Sorento SX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 69,865 miles


Engine overheated. Kia Dealer found radiator cap "melted" and replaced radiator (I paid dealer $1,118.52) Two weeks later, engine overheated again (now smoldering - police called Fire Dept), car died completely. Towed to same dealership who again replaced radiator and "found metal in radiator and found coolant reservoir melted. Advised customer of engine damage and recommend engine replacement. Replaced engine with used engine." (I paid $10,970.34). Car again lost power and overheated 5/4/19. Replaced water pump. 7/19/19 Car again lost power and overheated. Replaced radiator AGAIN.

I recently learned that Kia recalled 500,000+ vehicles, including 2012 Sorento's for manufacturing defects where metal was left in the engines causing engines to catch fire, lose power and fail completely. I went back to the dealer to inquire about this; dealer informed that only the 4 cylinder Sorentos were recalled, not the 6 cylinder vehicles, like mine. Dealer said they never heard of metal in engines and this would never occur from vehicle use or improper maintenance (dealer acknowledged I have impeccable maintenance records). Dealer said this was likely the same manufacturing problem but they would not help me because the recall did not include my vehicle. When I asked if they would help me contact Kia, they said no, this was "my problem" and good luck because it was "me against a big automobile manufacturer".

It is no coincidence that my "unrecalled" car (same make, model and model year) has the exact same catastrophic problems of overheating, catching fire, engine failure and presence of metal debris in the engine as the Sorento's which have been recalled. My problem initially occurred at 69,966 miles; the recalled vehicles reported problems around the 70,000 mile point, as well. And further, since the Kia dealer replaced my engine with a used 2013 Sorento engine (which now has ~80,000 miles on it), the problems with overheating, loss of power and radiator 'melting' are also recurring and I believe the replacement engine may be defective. There are other posted complaints with similar v6 models, notwithstanding that Kia has had their hands full with 4 cylinder recalls and has been unwilling to look into the same problem with defective V6 engines, of which I have TWO .

Neither Kia nor the dealership are willing to consider this problem as a defect. The dealer in particular, has used intimidation to get me to back down. I am not intimidated by any "big automobile manufacturer". Not when the issues are this glaringly obvious.

- Joyce L., Savage, MN, US

problem #31

Sep 172022

Sorento LX 2.4L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 127,000 miles

These engines have been an issue all over the net, even on this site there is many recorded failures of this engine, but it seems like Kia has no desire to fix it. It also seems like the local Kia finds every way to get out of this engine repair - with or without the campaign, it's the customer fault somehow. Is this supposed to be a disposable car? Seems like it. When the timing chain, or the bearings go too early, just decide to give up a lot of money to get back on the road, it's hard to get a used or rebuilt one - very costly.

- Erich E., Quincy, US

problem #30

Jun 012019


  • Automatic transmission
  • 103,000 miles

click to see larger images

catastrophic engine failure

Our 2012 Kia Sorento with the V6 engine experienced a major engine bearing failure at 103,000 miles. This car had been running full synthetic and had routine oil changes every 6000 miles. The car failed without warning. The oil level was correct and had just been changed shortly before the failure. Engine oil blew out onto the exhaust from the hole in the block. Fortunately it was a cool day and the oil did not ignite.

I contacted Kia about the issue and received absolutely no help or support when we saw that this exact occurrence had happened to other Kia owners. Buyer definitely BEWARE of these vehicles!

- Jay S., Underwood, MN, US

problem #29

Jul 102020

Sorento LX 2.4L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 148,000 miles


Over two years of serious issues that couldn’t seem to be diagnosed. Stalled several times a week and using a ton of oil. I’ve had the electrical module replaced, crankshaft sensor 2x, alternator, throttle body, cam sensor, map sensor, pcv valve and the engine scoped. Now the engine light started flashing, the vehicle got sluggish and the engine expired. Kia has known about these issues for years and yet I couldn’t get the issues rectified. I still have to pay this lemon off and buy something else. A huge burden on my family. I’ll never buy another Kia product.

- Thomas B., Clinton, US

problem #28

May 172020

Sorento LX 2.4L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 150,000 miles

Engine failure on my 2012 kia sorento paid $5400 for used replacement few months later kia sent recall notice and refunded the cost of engine replacement. to day the replacement engine failed which came out of a recalled kia , when I contacted kia dealer they told me there are no unpaid recalls with the vin# the recall is for the engines 2012 - 2014 kia sorento's . Why is the engine that was put in as replacement covered under recall when it came out of 2012 kia sorento that was under recall.

- Don F., Arvin, CA, US

problem #27

Apr 182019

Sorento 4L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 98,000 miles

Driving to work on a same route bumpy road yesterday, thought something flew into a fan or something due to a rattle noise starting after hitting a bump. Within a few seconds knocking and noise getting louder. No warning lights came on. Car completely seized and failed within a few more seconds as I pulled over to a turning lane. Opened hood and smoke began pouring out. Checked dipstick and smoke poured out of the dipstick hole as well. Oil looked fried. Coolant was ok. Tow truck and repair shop said complete engine failure. Had to embarrassingly call boss and miss a bit of work trying to get another vehicle to get back to work. Car has always had synthetic oil changes and everything done all as scheduled. Had it in for the recall in 2017 and all listed as ok. Engines are backordered (looked at previous complaints and it looks like this backorder has been an issue since at least early 2018) so no telling when my car will be fixed. Honestly, this could have been deadly had I been on the highway.

- Lynn F., Franksville, US

problem #26

Mar 102019

Sorento LX 2.4L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 73,000 miles


We were driving down the highway on a normal Sunday afternoon, when suddenly the power steering went out and the engine completely seized. (Making loud cracking noises). We called Kia consumers affairs, and of course they found a way to skirt the issue, saying "our model" was not covered under their recall. This put us in a unbelievably terrible spot, as we had to get it towed from Texas to Louisiana, continue paying car notes on a vehicle that is worthless, and rent a car until we can find a solution to the horrible problem. What I don't understand is how Kia can conveniently weed out the models that aren't covered under the recall. If a company recalls a 2012 Kia Sorrento that should 100% unequivocally cover all fricking 2012 models. As I read all these complaints it becomes very clear to me that this auto-manufacture is a complete fraud. Why would the engine stop working at less than 75,000 miles?? And totally eliminate "our model/vin" from the recall. It makes absolutely no sense!!!! Kia has put my family in a terrible position by not offering to help with zero- ZILICH!!! We will do everything in our power to fight this supposed car manufacture and absolutely, NEVER buy a DAM KIA AGAIN!!!

- kjstoute80, Broussard, US

problem #25

Mar 022019

Sorento LX Gdi

  • Automatic transmission
  • 104,000 miles

Catastrophic engine failure. Recall on GDi engine, took into Kia 2017 and they said it was fine. First failure 6 months prior to engine seize on freeway, could have died, but coasted to side of road. Didn't know the cause but after the car sat for some hours and cooled down, it started. Fast forward four months and a knocking sound started, very light, more upon acceleration. Thought it was coming from under the car, not the engine. Didn't think much of it, thought it was cheap gas. This weekend, in the rain, car stopped running again at 40 miles per hour on the freeway. Just like the first time, all systems shut down, brakes wouldn't work, nothing. Again could have died and this time one of my children was in the car with me. Do not buy a Kia with a GDi engine. Upon research, Kia knew of this problem when the cars rolled off the factory line and let them go out into service. Dangerous vehicle.

- June B., Woodland Hills, CA, US

problem #24

Nov 282018

Sorento 2.4L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 143,000 miles

Engine needs replacement, due to lack of compression in cylinders 3 and 4, possibly due to metal shrapnel in engine from manufacturing.

- dolphman, Benton Harbor, US

problem #23

Mar 122018


  • Automatic transmission
  • 60,000 miles

There is a class action against Kia for these engine failures. Contact the lawyer at

- Sue K., spring valley, NY, US

problem #22

May 182018

Sorento 3.2L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 78,000 miles


click to see larger images

catastrophic engine failure

I purchased a 2012 Kia Sorento back in November of 2017 at Town Square Motors in Lawrenceville. After seeing the vehicle had been well maintained on the Carfax and it had mileage of around 75,000, I felt confident the vehicle would be a reliable long term purchase for me and my family. Now just months later in June 2018 the vehicle spontaneously shut down while driving last week. Fortunately I was on road with a near by parking lot I could safely roll into and stop. I had it towed to my mechanic’s home and was informed that this maybe a recalled engine.

After having it towed to the local Kia dealership I am being told it needs an entire new engine. After a little research, I noticed a Kia Sorento engine failure recall for 2012-2014 due to poor engine manufacturing assembly from leaving debris in engine. After contacting Kia consumer affairs I was told my VIN was not included in this recall. However, they settled on covering half of the $4,000+ repair.

If they know they are at fault, why not pay repair in entirety? Kia Consumer Affairs claims it is not covered under a warranty and I am ‘fortunate’ they covered as much as they as they did.

I purchased this vehicle because I need it for my business as well as for my family. I paid out of pocket for a rental car for a few weeks thinking that it would be repaired by that time. They now have given me a loaner vehicle for the time being. However, it is negatively affecting my business because I am unable to use it for my furniture business as it is too small to transport my inventory. They are telling me the part they need to repair my engine is on back order and they will not give me an ETA on when my vehicle will be repaired or when I will have my car back.

I am really hoping your knowledge and experience can help me get my vehicle back to me repaired and get the reimbursed all the expenses I have paid for this out of pocket from Kia. I have attached the repair quote from Kia for you to take a look at. It has now been over five months and I have been without my vehicle and still paying my insurance and car payment monthly for vehicle I don't even see. Kia has now given me an ETA on the part for my engine as October 27 saying the part has been on 'back order' and continuously pushing back the date of completion for my repair.

- Caroline S., Norcross, GA, US

problem #21

Mar 102018

Sorento LX 3.5L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 138,000 miles

click to see larger images

catastrophic engine failure


- Ivis Q., stoughton, MA, US

problem #20

Sep 052014

Sorento LX 2.4L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 36,000 miles

Suddenly failed in the middle lane of the freeway. Lucky nobody was hurt. Seized at 36000 miles! Short block replaced under warranty - told it was a one off. Later came the recall and the excuse with a claim it was rectified.

- Cat W., Petaluma, CA, US

problem #19

Oct 212017

Sorento LX 2.4L Gdi

  • Automatic transmission
  • 86,432 miles

I'm the original owner of my Sorrento. I have scheduled maintenance performed regularly. On my way back to Dallas from ARK and my Kia stalled on the freeway. This was one week after I had an oil change and new brakes put on. I had it towed to McAlester OK for $165. A mechanic there determined that the knocking I had been hearing was a common issue with this engine and that the engine would need to be replaced or rebuilt. I'm having the vehicle towed to my local Kia dealership for a second opinion but I'm not optimistic. Not only was I left stranded, the amount I'm going to have to spend just to get it officially diagnosed is ridiculous.

- jackie don, Farmers Branch, US

problem #18

Mar 092017

Sorento EX 2.4L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 89,235 miles

at around 50k miles, began hearing "chatter" from the engine, thought it was something loose/vibrating. Nothing was ever found. While driving home from work, w/ 89k miles on it, a very loud knocking noise began, I pulled over, and parked it, before it completely failed. I did not have my cell phone! A lady finally let me use her phone to call for help. I then had make arrangements to get to work again, and home, and have the car transported to the Kia Dealership for evaluation (and repairs), The Kia dealership downplayed the symptoms, and drove it around the lot, before parking it, the Oil light had come on, along w/ a louder knocking and squealing. I believe the engine was seizing at that moment. Upon review I found that the engine in it, the 2.4 GDI is part of a class action law suit against Kia. The 2.0 and 2.4 GDi's in 2011-2013 Sorento's, Optima's and Sportage's are all listed as having faulty rods, breaking, and spreading metal throughout the engine and causing it to seize. Hyundai also the same engines, and had a class action law suit, however Hyundai has settled their law suit. Kia has submitted documentation indicating they knew the engines/rods were faulty, however has not yet settled the lawsuit to recall or repair the engines. Kia and Hyundai are owned/operated by the same manufacturer. Though this is under warranty, I've read that Kia is not honoring the warranty on this issue. My car is currently at the dealership, awaiting an estimate and to determine if Kia will uphold it's warranty, if not, we will be suing.

- Kellie E., Charleston, US

problem #17

Feb 242017

Sorento LX 2.4L GDI

  • Automatic transmission
  • 94,000 miles

While driving along on a narrow two lane road I attempted to pass a large slow moving truck. At about midpoint in the pass I noticed all of the dash lights that come on when the engine is not running were on. Luckily momentum got me beyond the truck and when I attempted to return to my travel lane the vehicle had no power steering. Fortunately I knew the road and new of a pull off area ahead. I was able to get to that point and get off the road safely.

After having the car towed to my neighborhood garage a couple of preliminary tests were done, one being looking at the oil in the oil filter, which showed evidence of metallic dust and particles, the other being an attempt to turn the crankshaft with a large socket wrench. The crankshaft would not turn.

I calIed the dealership I bought the car from and described the problem in a voicemail left with the Service Manager. After repeated attempts I still am not getting a response from the dealer. I am not surprised since this seems to be a common issue that Kia does not want to own up to.

- bmatteo104, Fredericksburg, Virginia, US

problem #16

Feb 222017

Sorento LX V4

  • Automatic transmission
  • 79,700 miles

The dealer is citing this is due to inappropriate maintenance of the vehicle and that causes the engine oil to run low. I have the oil changed twice in 7,000 miles. The dealer cites that the oil must have not been added properly. This is the second time this occurred. Once at 72,000 and once at 79,000.

- Janet O., Poughkeepsie, NY, US

problem #15

Dec 082016


  • Automatic transmission
  • 104,000 miles

Took my car in to have the sway bar and ball joint replaced as there was play in them. Dropped the car off at 11:30 am, and it was running fine. At 3pm I received a call that the key wouldn't start the car. I took them my other set of keys still nothing. The engine was completely seized up. They can't turn the crankshaft manually or anything. Drained the oil to find metal shaving in it. There were no oil lights on, no engine lights on, nothing wrong with the car except the vibration due to the sway bar and ball joint. Now it's dead. We purchased it 10 months ago!!! It was driven by one owner prior to us, had the oil changed regularly. IT's 15 days before Christmas, and it's over. We have no car, no money to put towards Christmas because we have to solve the car issue as we have 7 kids!! Sigh, Merrry frickin Christmas, Thanks KIA!!

- Samantha M., Waupaca, WI, US

problem #14

Jan 202017

Sorento 2.4L Cdi

  • Automatic transmission
  • 85,000 miles

I bought a new Kia 2012 Sorrento in December of 2011, so the 60 month or 100,000 mile warranty ran out last month. On the evening of January 20, 2017, my wife and I noticed a subtle mechanical clicking sound when trying to accelerate and within literally a few minutes, the engine completely shut down. At that time, we were on a busy highway in traffic, at night and approaching bridge that sits about 150 feet above a river. A tractor-trailer swerved into the other lane to avoid hitting us from behind and after he passed, I immediately diverted into the median and was able to stop the car there, despite no power steering, no power to the brakes. I re-started the engine but the sound was an incredibly loud, deep sounding metal on metal rolling noise so I shut it off and called a tow truck. The next morning, a local mechanic (not a Kia certified mechanic, but a man with 45 years experience as a master mechanic) explained that the engine was blown and would need to be replaced. I am planning to have the car towed to the Kia dealership where I purchased the vehicle tomorrow (1/23/17) to get their assessment and estimated cost to repair/replace the engine. I have about 13 payments left on the vehicle and am now in a serious bind as I am without a vehicle for work until I can get this one repaired or replaced. I have never had an issue or complaint with any other manufacturer of any product that has ever led me to consider legal action, but it can not be anything but fraud to sell a car knowing it was defective and knowing that after a certain length of time, the level of stress on certain parts has repeatedly result in a catastrophic mechanical failures.

In June of 2016, apparently a class action suit was filed in California against Kia. The lawsuit alleges the defect causes stalling and complete engine failure at any time, including while driving, making the problem a serious safety hazard. In addition, the plaintiffs say the defect rears its head during or shortly after the limited warranty has expired. According to the lawsuit, not only did Kia conceal that the engines are prone to failure, but the automaker concealed the defect from consumers to keep selling the vehicles. The plaintiffs say Kia has long known about the Theta (CDI) engine problems yet refuses to freely repair the engines or order a recall. Even when a vehicle clearly shows symptoms of the alleged defect, Kia ignores the symptoms until enough mechanical problems have occurred to run up a big repair bill. The plaintiffs say many owners have continued to complain to Kia about the Theta engine problems but even while under warranty, the automaker fails to cover the cost for repairs. It is clearly a design flaw and to take the position that it is not the responsibility of the manufacturer in spite of demonstrative evidence to the contrary, is the equivalent to Kia playing Russian Roulette with the lives of its thousands of customers who are currently driving what amounts to a time bomb with a short fuse. To my knowledge Kia has not yet issued a recall and, if this is the case, it is a matter of time before deaths and injuries result from this catastrophic engine failure. As these defective mechanical instruments continue to age, the number of defective Kia's are about to exponentially increase. This is clearly not an isolated event and I am absolutely terrified for other Kia owners who are unknowingly driving a vehicle that will, with minimal to no warning, suddenly undergo catastrophic mechanical engine failure. In the wrong setting and with the wrong conditions, this can and will prove life threatening. The odds of fatalities and serious injuries from such a defect are almost a certainty. Maybe an overwhelming number of these engine failures can get the attention of the NHTSA to force Kia’s hand on the issue if they truly refuse to admit and address the flaw. I guess it is possible that the company is not in a position to withstand the financial loss it would suffer from such a massive recall. I guess money staying in their pockets matters more than the lives of their customers, and if that is the case, I think their will be a day in the near future when Kia is an extinct automobile. This defect is functionally very similar to the Chevy Cobalt GM ignition malfunction. In the Chevy Cobalt, an ignition flaw resulted in the vehicle suddenly shutting off at speed, deactivating safety systems like airbags and anti-lock breaks. GM recalled 2.6 million vehicles in 2013 due to this defect. The investigation later revealed that GM knew about the defective part as early as 2004 and the faulty ignition has been blamed in 90 total deaths so far. Until literally about an hour ago, I had never seen this sight or heard any other issues with Kia motors. I was simply doing a google search to see roughly what it would cost to replace the engine and it led to this very frustrating discovery that this is not only not isolated, but apparently pretty well vetted out and yet Kia can tolerate a death from their mistake as opposed to admitting they have a poorly designed and engineered engine. I am imagining the recall of literally millions of vehicles that carry the faulty engine would not necessarily be survivable for Kia. Maybe they should know what it feels like to lose their job because their Kia broke down!! I know I do not have the $6000 it will likely cost to repair this vehicle...and I also know that there is not a snowball's chance in hell that I or ANYONE I KNOW WILL BE ALLOWED TO BUY A KIA. IN FACT, I CAN NOT WAIT TO TELL EVERYONE ON THE LOT AS I HAVE MY SORRENTO TOWED TO THE PEOPLE WHO SOLD BE THIS PIECE OF GARBAGE. OK, I AM DONE.. HOPE THIS HELPS SOMEONE.. PAUL

- drpr0710, Dora, AL, US

problem #13

Dec 012016

Sorento LX 2.4L Gdi

  • Automatic transmission
  • 112,000 miles

I just got my 2012 Kia Sorento back from the dealer with a remanufactured engine. It has 111,000 on the clock.

Coincidentally I was traveling to the local Kia dealership, accelerated out of my community to about 40mph, engine light on, engine died, no power steering etc. Called them up and they sent a tow truck out. They called a couple of hours later to let me know engine had seized solid and requires a new engine. Fortunately they have done work on it before and know that i have serviced it, zero sludge. I do all the servicing myself – Mobil1 full synthetic every 5-7000 miles, obviously a waste of good oil in hindsight.

For all those people who say that the dealer needs proof of service for warranty - fight back - turn it around to "prove that i didn't service it" If you are confident you serviced it, pay for an independent tear down of the engine. The tear down will simply involve dropping the oil pan. Now you have proof that there is no sludge, therefore it did not cause the problem. I can't believe they are playing on this 'prove service' rubbish - its a known defect.

Now, the reman engine is only warranted for 12 months or 12,000 miles, then I am on my own, This will have 12,000 miles in 6 months. Do i risk it or ditch it? Kia should warrant this specific failure for the life of the car, it is categorically a build problem with failures from 5000 miles to mine at 111,000 miles. It is so easy to diagnose that the shoddy build caused the destruction of an engine. It is a simple, less than 2 hours labor to drop the oil pan, and undo the bearing caps. They need to take responsibility.

So far so good, 600 miles and no engine failure!!

- Mark M., Coral Springs, FL, US

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