really awful
Crashes / Fires:
1 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
1 / 0
Average Mileage:
81,796 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.

2008 Kia Spectra engine problems

engine problem

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2008 Kia Spectra Owner Comments

problem #10

Jul 292016


  • 67,000 miles


The right-side passenger brakes lights are not working. All bulbs are good. My cruise control has been working intermittently. As I'm unable to view my brake lights while driving, I'm going to assume that these two problems are occurring at the same time. I believe it is due to a defective brake switch. I tested the cruise control by trying to engage it while driving at 40 mph. It did not engage. When checking the brakes with the car parked in the driveway - they worked intermittently. All wires are in good shape and free from corrosion. I also have a problem with the passenger airbag sensor and reported this to your organization. At the time I reported it there had not been enough complaints for the Spectra, specifically, to receive any help. The problem did exist in high numbers in other Kia models of the same year -2008. Recently, I received notice that the air bag sensor defect has now been recognized and I can have this repair made at the dealership at Kia's expense. I think it is prudent to report this apparent brake switch defect as I notice recalls on other Kia models of the same year as mine - 2008 for brake switch defect.

- Shelter Island Heights, NY, USA

problem #9

Mar 132016


  • 117,000 miles
La caja de velocidades a veces golpea en autopista cuando cambia hacÍa primera no lo hace siempre pero golpea fuerte

- Orlando, FL, USA

problem #8

Jul 012015


  • 97,000 miles
Intermittingly, after starting the vehicle, engine begins revving. Intermittingly, while slowing & stopping at a traffic light, engine begins revving and attempts to lurch forward. I have to press the break very hard to keep vehicle from moving forward. Fred anderson Kia, raleigh, nc investigated this problem on 7/10/15 but was unable to recreate the problem. They re-cleaned the throttle body. The issue has continued on and off since then. On 8/20/15, after approximately 45 minutes of highway driving, I pulled into the parking lot at work. I put the car into reverse to back into a parking spot & the engine started revving dramatically & the car jerked noticeably as it went into gear. I backed into the spot & put the car in park, again jerking. I let the car idle for a few minutes & moved it in & out of gear. The revving worsened, the car attempted to lurch forward even with both the break & emergency break & continued jerking with every gear change. I have an appt. On 8/21/15 with fred anderson Kia to investigate. My concern is the safety of the vehicle, as I have seen an indication of the same problem with other Kia vehicles on this site & other sites. It seems as if Kia is not resolving the issue and I don't want to have an accident because of it.

- Garner, NC, USA

problem #7

Apr 252015

Spectra 4-cyl

  • 110,000 miles


I was driving my car, March 2013 and the car died while pulling into the driveway. I was at a red light in May 2014 and the car died at the stop light. For those two incidents the Kia dealership indicated an issue with the charcoal canister. Now, I have a third incident that occurred April 25, 2015, I was driving approximately 40 miles per hour and the wheels locked up and the car died while driving on a main street. My vehicle has been at the dealership for 3 business days and they are not able to determine why the car is stopping. This is a safety issue for me. These incidents could have happened on the freeway and could have caused a fatality. The Kia dealership has been diligently trying to diagnose the issue however; they have been unable to determine the root cause. I am sharing this information just in case other drivers are experiencing this issue.

- Southfield, MI, USA

problem #6

Feb 192015

Spectra 4-cyl

  • 160,920 miles
I was driving normally going 45 mph on a rural street using my cruise control. When I was coming up to the stop, I hit the brakes to slow down, and the engine immediately accelerated. I slammed on the brakes and the engine ran faster. I put the car in neutral (the engine rpms red-lined), and turned the key off and the vehicle slowed under normal braking. I started the vehicle back up, and tested the problem. The cruise control was not disengaging with the brake pedal. When I got home, I checked the brake lights, and they were not working. I bought a replacement switch and the brake lights work with the replacement switch. If I had not applied the brakes far enough in advance, I am certain that I would have gone through the busy intersection and caused a major accident.

- Summerville, SC, USA

problem #5

Oct 012014


  • 88,000 miles
I drive a 2008 Kia Spectra. I've owned the car for roughly 4 yrs. Within the last month my car continues to stall. This occurs generally when I'm coming to a stop and turning. The dash lights will all come on and my wheel locks up in the direction I was turning. When I turn my car off and turn it back on, the lights will turn off, but my RPM's rev up to a minimum of 3. I have taken the vehicle to two auto mechanics. They have changed a fuel temp. Sensor and switched out all my spark plugs. Both mechanics have plugged the vehicle up to the machine and it reads clear. They cannot find an issue with the vehicle. Since the vehicle acts up randomly, they are unable to identify the problem when it's in their possession.

- Sesser, IL, USA

problem #4

Nov 112011

Spectra 4-cyl

  • 35,844 miles


Vehicle surges while driving and/or while stopped in traffic.

- Wilkes Barre, PA, USA

problem #3

Apr 192014


  • 90,000 miles
The contact owns a 2008 Kia Spectra. The contact stated the vehicle failed to stop after the brake pedal was applied and instead the vehicle suddendly accelerated crashing into a building. The air bags failed to deploy and the air bag light illuminated on the instrument panel. A police report was not filed. The driver sustained a neck injury. The vehicle was not taken to the dealer nor was it diagnosed. The manufacturer was not contacted. The failure mileage was 90,000 and the current mileage 95,000.

- Napoleonville, LA, USA

problem #2

Aug 232012


  • 4,200 miles
The contact owns a 2008 Kia Spectra. The contact stated that after having the oil changed, the vehicle stalled without any warning. The vehicle was able to be restarted and was taken back to the dealer who was unable to diagnose the failure. Immediately after leaving the dealership for the second time the failure recurred while driving approximately 35 mph. The driver was able to merge to the side of the highway and restart the vehicle. The vehicle was taken back to the dealer, who diagnose that the mass air sensor flow filter and spark plugs needed to be replaced. In addition, the contact has experienced surging in the vehicle when coming to a complete stop. After the surging, the RPM's would race to high numbers. The manufacturer was contacted and they offered no assistance. The failure mileage was approximately 4,200. The current mileage was approximately 7,700.

- Marino, OH, USA

problem #1

Jul 082011


  • 48,000 miles
The contact owns a 2008 Kia Spectra. The contact stated that the vehicle would lung forward and accelerate, accompanied by an abnormal increase in engine rpms. The dealer was unable to diagnose the failure. The manufacturer was contacted via email, but the contact received no response. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure mileage was 48,000 and the current mileage was 51,000.

- Buckeye, AZ, USA

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