Kia Soul Problems

Kia Soul Problems – Will It Break Your Soul In Two?

As far as the more budget category of cars goes, the Kia Soul is certainly among the most popular ones on sale. This is largely thanks to the Soul’s distinct styling, which has plenty of, well, ‘soul’. But since it went on sale internationally in the 2010s, it didn’t take long for Kia Soul problems to start appearing. As cute as it may be, the Soul didn’t always have the most robust of hearts.

Kia has certainly proven that affordable cars don’t have to be bland, or cookie-cutter, with the Soul’s adorably angry looks. Its inspiration apparently comes from a boar – an important spiritual figure within Korean culture.

Indeed, this writer here certainly agrees that there’s an added coolness to the Soul. Originally, this charming little machine was only a Korean affair, and it remained rather modest at the time.

At the very least, people have complained that the interior was a bit plasticky, and bits fell out. At the very worst, the Kia Soul’s problems extend all the way down to complete engine failure.

So, you might ask, is this funky little slice of Korean automotive pop culture worth the trouble? Well, read along with our Kia Soul problems guide to learn more about which model years are best, and worst for your soul.

Are Kia Souls Good Cars

Kia Soul Problems

Before we can dive deep into knowing the extent of the Kia Soul problems, we should probably take some time to learn more about what it is. The Kia Soul had its origins back in 2005 as an early sketch, by its design team based in California.

Kia’s intent was on creating a car to appeal to the more youthful customers, with the target being unique and colorful. It has since won praise for its quirky and retro-futuristic design.

The covers were lifted off the Soul in the 2008 Paris Motor Show and were manufactured at its home in South Korea. It went on sale in other markets, such as the US and Europe, in 2010.

Since then, the Kia Soul spawned across 3 different generations. The ‘AM’ generation launched in 2008, followed by the ‘PS’ generation in 2013, and then the current ‘SK3’ generation in 2019.

As Kia is part of the same company as its sister brand, Hyundai, the Soul’s platform has been shared with other models. This includes the Hyundai i20 and the Kona. Since the 2nd generation Soul, Kia launched a separate electric version in 2014.

It was marketed as the Kia Soul EV or the e-Soul in some markets. It shares its electrified platform with the Hyundai Kona, and Kia Niro electric vehicles.

Best Kia Soul Year

Kia has in recent years been nominated as among the best car brands in regard to maintenance, and reliability. This recognition extends also to its sister brands, Hyundai and Genesis.

However, its models, including the Kia Soul, have not always been indestructible. In its early years, the most common complaint made against the Kia Soul was regarding the build quality.

This includes issues such as interior trim pieces falling off, or wearing out faster than usual. However, Kia has addressed this in later generations. That said, poor build quality and overly plasticky trim is hardly the worst issue in the wider scope of Kia Soul problems.

In fact, it can very quickly escalate into hugely expensive repair bills. The model years between 2012 and 2016 had the most complaints overall. We’re using data compiled by to curate this Kia Soul problems guide as best as we can.

Users send feedback and complaints directly to their database. While others were taken from the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). This includes a wide range of carmakers and models sold in the US, one of them being Kia.

The Soul does not have as many complaints as some other Kia models, with just 265 cars noted to have issues, at the time of writing. The 2014 model year Soul had the most number of complaints, standing at 60 owners filing for problems with their cars.

However, has instead named the 2015 Soul as the worst offender, with 15 out of 45 problems caused by engine failure.

Kia Soul Reliability

So far, we’ve understood what the Kia soul is, and the general overview of some of the issues that it faced. Now, it would be a good time to compile a more comprehensive list of the common faults found in Kia Souls.

We’ll be running along across all model years sold in the US from 2010 to the most recent 2022. In due time, we’ll continue to update this list, as well. Note, that we’ll be taking a look at the internal combustion engine-powered Soul, not its EV sibling.

As we’ve mentioned earlier, the Kia Soul model years with the most issues according to are between 2012 and 2016. These model years cover both the 1st and 2nd generation Kia Souls.

Much of the issues have been remedied after the 2017 facelift of the 2nd generation Kia Soul, with a slight redesign, changes in trim, and a new powertrain. The new 1.6-liter turbocharged engine seems to have fixed much of the engine failures caused in the 2016 and earlier models.

It’s worth mentioning, however, that a number of Kia cars caught fire in 2018. The Center For Auto Safety later asked that Kia recalled all Souls between the 2010 and 2015 model years. Although Kia had initiated a voluntary recall in 2019, the Kia Soul was never included.

For our Kia Soul problems review, we’ll be guiding you along the most common issues found through its model years. So, if you’re thinking of buying a Soul, or have one and are in need of help to know whether or not it’ll burst into flames, read along to find out more.

Reliability Metrics, According To Data From
Model Year (Kia Soul) Complaints ( & NHTSA) Number Of Recalls TSBs (Technical Service Bulletins)
2010 180 3 92
2011 206 2 83
2012 507 2 180
2013 508 2 178
2014 981 4 236
2015 850 4 217
2016 536 2 161
2017 174 1 107
2018 106 89
2019 41 74
2020 237 1 131
2021 29 1 64
2022 1

2010 Kia Soul Problems

The 2010 model was the first Kia Soul to have been launched internationally and sold in the US. has recorded 9 different complaints filed on its website, with a total of 114 counting for those problems filed with the NHTSA.

The 2010 Kia Soul has had 3 recalls thus far. The most serious being on April 1st, 2013, with more than 980,377 vehicles being affected across the whole Kia range. This main issue was regarding a malfunctioning stop lamp switch.

This will cause the brake lights to not illuminate under braking, and it may also prevent you from disengaging the cruise control. Moreover, the faulty stop lamp switch can also have an effect on the push-button ignition. It can cause the transmission to switch out of ‘Park’ without first applying the brake.

Here are some of the most common Kia Soul problems for the 2010 model year that you should keep an eye out for:

1. Electrical Problems

This is the most severe problem for the 2010 Kia Soul, with more than 19 complaints filed with the NHTSA. The symptoms of this are a distinct popping sound through the radio.

Sometimes, it might even cause certain lights within the car to illuminate randomly while driving. It could also cause the electrical systems inside the Soul to stop completely, such as the air conditioning unit, power windows, sunroof, and wipers.

The main fault was linked back to the electrical harness used by Kia at the time, which can fail prematurely. This is also linked to the temperature sensors embedded into the wiring, and the soldering coming loose.

These problems can also cause short-circuiting, and thus smoke is visible within the interior. The recommended way to fix this is a replacement of the entire wiring system. On average, this happens with a mileage of 60,000 miles or before.

2. Faulty Suspension

Another major issue with the Kia Soul, as noted in many reviews at the time, was the Soul’s harsh ride. This can cause the entire suspension system to wear out prematurely.

The suspension is noted to start making unpleasant noises after a mileage of around 25,000 miles. On average, it can cost about $800 to fix. But the suspension faults also extend to the shock absorbers, suspension, joints, and bearings.

After around 68,000 miles of ownership, it can fail and cause intense vibrations, or even the tires rubbing against the wheel well. This is even with moderate, and careful driving.

The average cost for a replacement of these components is around $1,800. However, one owner had to replace the shock absorbers and struts 3 times, with a repair bill upwards of $8,000.

3. Engine Failures

The early Kia Souls also suffered from engine problems. The most notable cause is the leaking of the car’s coolant. This can happen even without a warning light pops up, or the temperature gauge rising.

The engine can start ticking, before eventually dying. In some instances, the engine required a full replacement. The average mileage for this issue is around 144,000 miles, with a repair cost of about $1,700.

2011 Kia Soul Problems

The 2011 Kia Soul saw an increase in the number of issues, with 12 complaints filed on, with a total of 195. It has had 2 recalls in its lifecycle, with the most serious recall being the aforementioned stop lamp switch.

This recall covered around 980,377 vehicles across all of Kia’s product range. The other recall is a minor one, concerning 95,314 Kia Souls that had a loose headliner plate on their sunroof.

These are some of the major Kia Soul problems for the 2011 model year that you need to know about:

Kia Soul Problems

1. Engine Problems

The 2011 Kia Soul suffered from a variety of different engine problems. The most common one reported is the engine seizing up, and causing a loss of power. This is attributed to a broken oil pump or a leaking oil pan.

Owners had also reported broken head gaskets, and failing thermostats. One such owner had to replace their head gaskets twice, and their thermostat 4 times while the car had only driven a total of 109,000 miles.

Some owners had also complained about a loud knocking noise from the engine, and causing a loss of acceleration while driving. Another owner also reported that the engine on their 2011 Kia Soul exploded and caught fire. This happened after a mileage of just around 12,000 on moderate use.

2. Electrical Issues

Just like the 2010 model year, the 2011 Kia Soul also suffered from a variety of electrical issues. The most common among them is a faulty alternator, which could fail even at fairly low mileage.

Similar to the previous year, the wiring harness in the Kia Soul could also fail, which will result in some functions of the car not working. For some owners, the horn may not work when pressed or would honk randomly.

Another major electrical fault is regarding the Soul’s electronic stability control (ESC). The ESC can sometimes come on without warning and will result in a sudden loss of power while driving.

This happened to one owner, despite driving on a dry surface, and with adequate traction without going at speed. The car might also not shift gears with a malfunctioning ESC, causing it to enter ‘limp home’ mode.

3. Airbags Failing To Deploy

Faults with the 2011 Kia Soul’s airbags hold the largest share of complaints, with 27 filed with and the NHTSA. This can happen with an average mileage of just 50,000 miles or so.

Reportedly, the Kia Soul’s airbags would fail to deploy, even with a high-speed front-end collision. Some owners even reported that the seat belt tensioners would not activate, while some other seat belts would unlatch automatically.

4. Drivetrain (Mostly Transmission) Problems

There was a myriad of different complaints surrounding the 2011 Soul’s drivetrain. The most expensive, and commonly reported problem are issues with the transmission. One owner reported that they had to replace their clutch twice within mileage of just 72,000 miles.

It had cost the owner $1,400 to replace it each time on average. The cause of the issue is a faulty valve on the transmission’s slave cylinder that would cause slipping. Meanwhile, another owner reported that their clutch and flywheel had failed after just 22,000 miles.

The Soul’s transmission would also react sporadically, causing sudden up-, or downshifts. One other major problem was the failure of the transaxle, causing leakage. It often requires a full replacement, and an owner claimed that a dealer had quoted a bill of $650.

2012 Kia Soul Problems

The 2012 model year is when the Kia Soul saw a significant uptick in the number of complaints. Overall, the 2012 Kia Soul saw 408 total complaints lodged between both and the NTHSA.

It had 2 recall notices, with the most serious one announced on February 22nd, 2019. This is the start of the consistent engine problems that we’ll see for a few more years. The recall notice applies to 378,967 Kia Souls sold between 2012 and 2016, those equipped with the 1.6-liter gas engines.

The primary cause is high exhaust temperatures, which can damage the catalytic converter. This, in turn, would result in the engine running abnormally, and causing damage. The connecting rod could also break, and puncture the engine block. This can cause engine oil to leak, and start a fire.

Apart from that, here are some of the most common Kia Soul problems for the 2012 model year:

1. Steering Problems

Among the most common complaints about the 2012 Kia Soul are issues related to the steering. Many owners report hearing and feeling a clunking, clicking, or knocking sound while turning the steering wheel.

Oftentimes, the steering wheel could also have a lot of play (or looseness) while turning. According to owners, the key failure point is the flex coupling. Sometimes, it may require the entire steering rack to be replaced.

This can happen at fairly low mileage, averaging at just around 76,000 of use according to The average repair bill for steering problems on the 2012 Kia Soul is around $830. One owner had to spend nearly $2,300 for a total repair, but thankfully was later reimbursed by Kia, and given an extended warranty.

2. Engine Problems

Once again, the 2012 Kia Soul is plagued with more engine and powertrain issues, with over 100 complaints filed. As mentioned earlier, this was part of the major recall that Kia had announced in 2019.

The main problem with the engine is catalytic converter failure owing to excess heat, which may also cause intensive damage to the engine. This could happen even without prompting a check engine light, or temperature warnings.

The heat can cause the engine’s combustion process to run abnormally. One consequence of this is a faulty connecting rod. It can then puncture straight to the engine block or oil pan, and cause leaking.

This might even cause a fire, as the engine oil would leak onto other, hot moving parts of the car. Other problems noted by owners are misfiring, engine knocking, or smoke from the engine bay and exhaust.

Kia Soul Problems

3. Difficulty Or Hard Shifting

Owners of the 2012 Kia Soul have reported numerous instances where their transmission would have difficulty shifting. This is evident by hesitation while upshifting, or ‘hard’ shifts that cause lurching while driving.

This can happen at around 60,000 miles. The main cause for this is a faulty heat sensor on the transmission. Alternatively, it might also require replacing the gasket on the gearbox, and a full flush of the transmission fluid.

4. Hood Unlatching While Driving

Another odd complaint with dangerous consequences on the 2012 Kia Soul is a problem with the hood latch. Some owners had reported this defect to happen at just under 40,000 miles.

The hood can unlatch itself while driving, causing damage to the hood and smashing the windshield. The average repair bill for this is $1,700; mostly covering the expense of a new windshield.

2013 Kia Soul Problems

The 2013 Kia Soul saw another increase in the number of complaints, with a total of 438 logged on and the NHTSA. It is part of the same recall batch as the 2012 Soul, concerning the catalytic converter potentially failing.

The high exhaust temperatures can cause damage to the rest of the engine as well. Similarly, most of the issues on the 2013 Soul (129 complaints overall) are pertaining to the engine.

Notably, most of the problems with the 2013 model year were carried over from the 2012 Soul. Some of the 2013 Soul’s issues had also carried over from the earlier cars, such as faulty wiring harnesses. Here is a deeper look at some of the Kia Soul problems that you might need to know about with the 2013 model year:

1. Knocking/Ticking Noise From The Engine

This is once again related to the recall notice as mentioned above, and as in the 2012 Kia Soul. Most commonly with 2013 Kia Soul owners, engine failure can be noticed by a loud knocking or ticking noise.

One cause for this is the connecting rod puncturing into the engine block, and causing a mass leakage of engine oil. While most were covered under the recall, some owners had to replace the entire engine, to a tune of $4,000 to $5,000.

2. Steering Problems

Just like the 2012 Kia Soul, the 2013 model year also suffered from steering issues. Most noticeably, this can come in the form of a clunking, clicking, or knocking sound. Many owners reported that the problems are fixed with a replacement of the steering coupler.

This is a part that has been known to fail in some Kia models. For the Soul, it can cost upwards of $560, while other owners necessitated replacing the entire steering rack.

2014 Kia Soul Problems

The 2014 Kia Soul saw the introduction of the 2nd generation car to the market. While it marked many improvements over the first generation, it also came with a lot more issues.

On, there are 780 complaints overall about the 2014 Kia Soul. There were 4 major recalls of the car. The first was on March 2nd, 2015, that concerned the possibility of the accelerator pedal fracturing in 208,858 Kia Souls.

On September 29th, 2017, a second recall was announced by Kia for 342,381 Kia Souls. This time, they noted that the steering pinion gear might separate, thus potentially causing you to lose any steering input.

The next one was in 2019, regarding the aforementioned catalytic converters melting that affected 378,967 Kia Souls. The 4th recall was on December 2nd, 2020, concerning a possible engine fire with 294,756 Kia Souls.

Here are some of the most persistent Kia Soul problems that kept owners of the 2014 model year awake at night:

1. Engine Problems

In following the theme with Kia Souls so far, the common issue with the 2014 Kia Soul remains to be the engine. The total tally of complaints from and the NHTSA stands at 284, all for faults with the engine. The issues are similar to the one described per the recall notice for the catalytic converter damage since the 2012 Kia Soul.

Most owners have reported complete engine failures, sometimes requiring to change the entire engine. The connecting road can puncture through the engine block, causing the engine oil to leak.

Owners have reported knocking noises, sudden loss of power, or sometimes having their Souls catch fire. This should be covered under recall, but some owners had to pay for their own repairs, costing upwards of $6,000.

2. Electrical Problems

Despite a complete overhaul of the Soul for the 2nd generation, the electrical problems from the earlier cars still remained. Although this time, the electrical problems for the 2013 Soul concern more the exterior lighting. The connection between the wiring harness with the exterior lights can sometimes come loose.

Another fault is the subpar bulb connector that can burn out. This can cause the headlights, brake lights, and turn signals to not turn on or off. Alternatively, it could also blink frequently while driving, or flicker. Although not a relatively expensive fix, some Kia dealers have been caught charging owners of 2014 Kia Souls more than $400 for a repair.

3. Steering Problems

The 2014 Kia Soul still caries over the steering issues from the earlier, 1st generation cars. This can be noticed with a loud clunking or clicking sensation and sound while turning the steering wheel.

This is once more owing to the steering coupler, which can fail prematurely. It is made from substandard materials and can break apart, causing you to lose steering completely.

2015 Kia Soul Problems

We won’t need to elaborate much on the problems of the 2015 Kia Soul. Most of the common concerns are echoed from the earlier 2014 Souls, and some even earlier. The 2015 model year cars suffered from the same 4 recalls as mentioned in the previous year.

This is regarding the potential fracturing of the accelerator pedal, separation of the steering pinion gear, catalytic converter damage (since 2012), and engine fires. As we’ve mentioned much earlier, the 2015 Kia Soul was nominated by as the worst when it comes to reliability.

Despite having fewer complaints compared to the 2014 model – 578 vs. 780 – the 2015 Kia Soul’s problems are more catastrophic and expensive. Moreover, some of the issues happened at lower mileage on average with the 2015 Souls.

Once again, the most common faults we’ve highlighted previously have been reoccurring on the 2015 Kia Soul. This includes the steering coupler failing prematurely, and catastrophic engine failure. The fixes should be similar. However, the costs have increased, as the engine problems on the 2015 Soul happens mostly on the larger and more complex 2.0-liter engine.

There are, however, some unique Kia Soul problems with the 2015 model year. Here is a couple of them:

1. Faulty Air Conditioning Unit And Heater

The A/C unit and heater on the 2015 Kia Soul can break over time. One cause is that the A/C unit’s drain hose underneath the car can get clogged. One owner reported that they had moisture blowing, and water dripping from the vents. Some other owners noted that their heaters won’t work fully, thus causing the windows to fog up, and sometimes freeze.

2. Car Not Starting

The 2015 Kia Soul can as suffer from some electrical problems, mostly concerning the alternator. Owners can sometimes have their batteries die while in use. Others have noted that the battery can short out, potentially pointing out to a wider design fault with the electrical systems.

2016 Kia Soul Problems

Compared to the 2014 and 2015 Kia Souls, the 2016 model year saw a decline in the number of complaints. It had 2 recalls, both of them related to problems with the previous model years.

The 2016 Kia Soul saw the year of the recall notice regarding the failing catalytic converter. This is an issue that had been happening since the 2012 soul. It covered 378,967 Kia Souls equipped with a 1.6-liter gas engine.

The other recall, as noted earlier, was over the steering pinion gear potentially coming apart. Overall the 2016 Kia Soul has seen 304 complaints in total. Most of the problems are similar to the ones we’ve mentioned since the 2014 Kia Soul. Therefore, we won’t be covering them in great detail with the 2016 model year.

Engine failure is the number one problem suffered by owners of the 2016 Kia Soul, although this is covered under a recall. The electrical problems from the 2015 Soul remain, causing the car to not start.

A/C and heater issues still remained from the 2015 car. This also goes for the clunking noise felt while steering the car, which has been happening since the 2012 model year.

2017 Kia Soul Problems

The 2017 Kia Soul saw large improvements in terms of reliability and maintenance. There aren’t as many major concerns over these cars as of yet. Currently, there are 90 complaints logged on, along with data from the NHTSA. The most common problem with the 2017 model year is engine failure, courtesy of knocking.

Some owners reported that their engines made loud knocking noises, loss of power, engine dying, or smoke. It can happen at around 80,000 miles. Although this is not a common issue, it can be expensive to fix. Often, it would require a brand new engine to be installed, costing upwards of $6,000.

2018 Kia Soul Problems

In following the gradual reliability improvements, the 2018 Kia Soul also saw minimal problems, with just 76 complaints. The lion’s share of the major complaints can be divided into the engine and electrical problems.

As we’ve mentioned much earlier when looking at the Soul’s history, a number of Kia models caught fire around 2018. Similarly, some owners had reported that their Soul’s engine caught fire.

However, no recall was issued for the 2018 Kia Soul, and this remains limited to a small number of owners. No cause has yet to be determined, but the symptoms can be described as hearing abnormal noises while the engine is running.

The electrical systems can also be problematic, such as the car not turning on, or a slight burning smell. Once again, this is not a widespread issue.

2019 Kia Soul Problems

Being a much newer car, there is a very small sample size to work with. Most owners would not have been able to put enough mileage for problems to appear. At the time of writing, the 2019 Kia Soul has only logged 31 complaints overall. The biggest concern with the 2019 model year is problems regarding the brake pedal.

Some owners have reported that their Soul’s brake pedals would get stuck, or pinned to the floor. But despite being pressed down, the brakes themselves would not deploy, or sometimes only activate partially.

Owners have tried to remedy this by pumping the brake pedals, but this has not worked. This has caused several incidents of Kia Souls rear-ending other cars, as their drivers were not able to brake.

2020 Kia Soul Problems

The 2020 Kia Soul saw the introduction of the 3rd generation car to the market. Interestingly, the 2020 Kia Soul saw an uptick in the number of complaints, standing at 120 while writing this.

This can happen with brand new, or to the ‘first batch’ of a new generation of cars. The two biggest problems with the 2020 Kia Soul are concerning the engine and the transmission.

Owners have noticed while driving that the engine’s revs would very suddenly rise upwards for no reason, then cause the car to shut down entirely. There has yet to be a thorough diagnosis of the problem, but it might be related to the transmission. Owners have been told by dealers that some of their transmissions have metal fragments inside of them, causing premature failure.

Since it’s a brand new model, these problems should thankfully be covered under warranty. However, owners have reportedly been waiting nearly 2 months before getting their car again. So far, there has yet to be a recall issued by Kia over this problem.

2021 Kia Soul Problems

Due to how new the 2021 Kia Souls are, it’s not likely that they’ll exhibit significant reliability concerns and problems as of writing. Although, a few issues here and there have already materialized. Granted, these issues seem to be fairly isolated.

Some owners noted the steering wheel on their 2021 Souls locking up. This was apparently due to a failure within the steering column. Meanwhile, others noted their engines seizing up and emitting smoke.

It was later blamed on a design defect, as the piston rings had poor heat-treating to them, and could cause damage to the engine. Besides those, some have also mentioned the automatic brake sensors going haywire. These could cause the Soul to slow down or go hard on the brakes erratically.

2022 Kia Soul Problems

As we’ve discussed earlier with the 2021 model year Kia Souls, these cars are way too new for serious issues to start appearing. It would take at least a couple more years of running in before problems start showing up in the 2022 model year. So far, we’re once again seeing mostly isolated issues.

But, at the time of writing this (and we’ll surely keep updating this list in due time), a couple of complaints have cropped up. For example, one owner complained about how using the start-stop feature can sometimes cause the car to lunge. This occurs when you’re letting go of the brakes and hitting the gas at the same time.

More seriously, another owner noted that during a collision, the seat belts failed to retract and keep the passengers in place. Moreover, the airbag didn’t even deploy.  On top of that, a different owner documented how there were metal shavings in the transmission fluid, causing their Soul’s gearbox to fail twice in under 6,000 miles.

Kia Soul: Facts to Know Before Buying Used

  • The Kia Soul is a subcompact crossover SUV that has been on the market for over a decade and is one of Kia’s best-selling models.
  • While the Kia Soul is a solid compact SUV, several model years have had issues, complaints, and recalls, making some years to avoid when buying used.
  • The worst Kia Soul years to avoid due to reliability issues are 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016.
  • The 2012 Kia Soul had body integrity issues, faulty safety features, clunking noises while turning, and the unlatched hood while driving, which is a safety hazard.
  • The 2013 Kia Soul had engine failure issues, a ticking sound from the engine, and required costly repairs of up to $5,000.
  • The 2014 Kia Soul had engine failure issues, consumed excessive oil, and had ticking/knocking noises coming from the engine.
  • The 2015 Kia Soul had engine failure issues, excessive oil consumption, and four recalls.
  • The 2016 Kia Soul had blown engine issues, and engine replacement would cost approximately $7,000.
  • The most common issues that affect several year models of the Kia Soul are engine failure, cruise control surge, ticking noises, and clicking while turning.
  • The 2011 Kia Soul is considered one of the most reliable Soul years, while the 2018 and 2019 models have excellent reliability ratings and are safe to buy used.
  • The 2018 and 2019 Kia Soul models have received high ratings for their cavernous cargo hold, spacious cabin, and decent fuel economy.

Final Conclusion

We can now conclude our Kia Soul problems guide so far. You might be reading this, and asking yourself whether you should be worried. Overall, we can see that the Kia Soul is generally more reliable than some other cars.

Granted, it can very easily break your soul in half with its more pressing issues, such as complete engine failure. If you have a Kia Soul, do consider having it checked out when you can.

Always keep in touch with your local Kia dealer to stay on top of problems, or recall notices. If you’re eligible, maybe even consider getting an extended warranty for the later models.

Or, if you’re thinking of buying a Kia Soul second-hand, then be sure to have a pre-purchase inspection done. This is to make sure that the previous owner has already complied with all the recalls, and had the major issues looked after.

Due diligence is always important, and we hope that our Kia Soul problems review has been able to better inform you. This funky little Korean box of wonders is surely as much a joy to drive and own, as it is to stare at it. But do be cautious, or you might find your soul ends up in tatters.

Frequently Asked Questions

If you still have some lingering questions concerning the Kia Soul problem, our FAQs here might help answer them…

Kia Soul Transmission Problems

The Kia Soul suffered a bout of transmission-related problems, especially concerning those Souls made for the 2011, 2012, and 2020 model years. Owners have suffered issues ranging from requiring a clutch and/or flywheel replacement at unusually low mileage. Or worse, having to replace the entire transmission, owing to a complete gearbox failure. Some of the symptoms noted by owners include slipping gears, hesitation while changing gears, rough shifts, lurching, or odd shifting. Transmission fluid leakage is something to be worried about, too. Some of the later Kia Souls (2020 model year) were found to have metal shavings and fragments circulating inside the transmission fluid, which could cause premature gearbox failure.

Kia Soul Engine Problems

One of the worst Kia Soul problems concerns its engine, which it’s been known to suffer outright engine failure. In the earlier model years, this was caused by leaking coolant. Eventually, emptying out the cooling system altogether, causing the engine to skyrocket in temperature. The latter may also be caused due to a faulty thermostat. Besides that, the oiling system in the earlier Souls tends to fail, as well. This could cause the engine to seize up, requiring a complete engine replacement. Some of the symptoms here include hesitation while accelerating, a loss of power, as well a knocking noise heard from the engine. Some Kia Souls were then fitted with compromised connecting rods. It could break off and puncture the engine block, causing a mass oil leak. In addition, the turbo engines could get so hot, that they would melt and damage the catalytic converters.

Are Kias Good Cars

In its early days upon entering the US market, Kias were well-known for their poor-built, economical, practical, and super-cheap economy cars. But in recent years, Kia’s grown to become the maker of some of the hottest cars on the market today. They’re also well-regarded for their reliability and dependability, with Kia (and its sister brand, Hyundai) regularly competing strongly against the Japanese for bulletproof longevity. Plus, Kia’s cars have become attractive, are techy, and appeal to much of the younger generation. In addition, Kia also offers lengthy and very competitive warranties for their cars. In short, Kias are some of the best cars that you can get for the money today.

Which Is Better Kia Or Hyundai

It’s worth noting that Kia and Hyundai are both sister companies. Therefore, most of their cars are identical to one another, with the two brands collaborating and working very closely when developing new cars. However, it’s a disservice to both Kia and Hyundai to simply say that their cars are re-badged from one another. Kia’s cars are differentiated by their bold, sporty, and athletic design language. Meanwhile, Hyundai focuses more on creating more luxurious and elegantly-styled cars. There are plenty of other nuances for you to consider, as well. There are often minute variations in trim level, features, tech, design, sportiness, performance, and more between Kia and Hyundai cars.

How Long Do Kias Last

While Kia used to make cheap cars that fell apart as soon as their warranties ended, it’s no longer the same brand that it’s become today. Nowadays, Kia makes some of the most reliable and dependable cars on the market, sometimes outpacing even the Japanese. With that in mind, Kias also tend to last for quite a while, with an average lifespan in the range of 200,000 miles. Given that most Americans drive about 15,000 miles each year, this equates to around 13 years of ownership. Although, with diligent servicing and good care, you could easily extend the lifespan of your Kia to at least 250,000 miles. Or, even as high as 300,000 miles, before a rebuild and restoration would be needed.

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  • Davidkumar Says

    Thanks for giving good information about engines. This is very useful for us.

    • Zack Norman Says

      Thanks for the comment, Davidkumar!

      Cheers, glad to hear they’ve been of some assistance.

  • Theresa Fontenot Says

    I just had a recall on my 2016 Kia Soul done, for an computer update
    Now my engine light is on

    • Christopher Thompson Says

      Had that same recall work done on my 2016 Soul in February of this year. 4 months later, my engine died on me at about 79,000 miles. Thank god the new engine was under warranty. Looking towards a Telluride by the end of the year.

    • Zack Norman Says

      Thanks for the comment, Theresa Fontenot!

      Sorry to hear that you’ve been having these problems. If your check engine light came right after a dealer-mandated software update, something must’ve gone wrong there. It’s quite likely that the reprogrammed and updated ECU (i.e. your car’s computer, or any associated module) had a botched update.

      It’s best that you head back to the dealer that applied the update and get it checked once more. Verify that there haven’t been any problems when applying the update, before then resetting the check engine light. If that light comes back, have the rest of your Soul thoroughly checked out to make sure that there aren’t any other issues that it’s trying to highlight.

  • Mike Says

    My 2020 soul ex just had its engine recalled… getting a new engine at only 7500 miles…🙄

    • Zack Norman Says

      Thanks for the comment, Mike!

      Sorry to hear that. Shocking to hear that you’re needing a brand new engine replaced with such low mileage. Hopefully, you’ve had it done under warranty.

  • Shelley Holczer Says

    Just bought a 2020 Soul S in Sept 2021. Let me say, that I do love this car, but Just bearly into Janyary 2022, my engine started making grinding noises. I took it in for a lookover 3 weeks ago and now they tell my they have to rebuild the engine from ground up because they are not making that engine any more. time frame as of today, 3 more weeks!!! At least they gave me a loaner car. All of this is not costing me a penny, Must be costing corporate a bundle though.

    • Zack Norman Says

      Thanks for the comment, Shelley Holczer!

      Sorry to hear that’s been happening to you, sounds like a bad ordeal overall. Grinding noises are among the worst that an engine could make, and it could point toward some serious issues underneath. A thorough rebuild is usually a good all-around solution (especially when that engine isn’t being built anymore), despite the high cost and complexity.

      You have a loaner car at least, so that’s good to hear! And, I’m glad that this is being done under warranty, as engine rebuilds are pretty expensive. So yeah, I imagine Kia and/or the dealerships are taking a huge loss on that one.

  • Melissa iodice Says

    Just took my 2014 kia soul in for flashing check engine light and engine shaking,not able to accelerate. Was told catalyst converter and 3 recalls maybe a new engine. Well turns out I only need a new catalyst converter. After already replacing it less than a year ago already. 2 updates for knock sensor and some engine controll thing. Plus air bags. Oh my. Still waiting for them to get the new parts so I can have my car back. Hopefully soon.cant keep putting miles on my bimmer.aka bmw.

    • Zack Norman Says

      Thanks for the comment, Melissa iodice!

      Sorry to hear about that… Sounds like a lot of trouble. The catalytic converter shouldn’t have a lifespan that short – you might want to check out the engine to see if it’s causing too much wear on the catalyst. Perhaps, if it’s running too rich of an air-to-fuel mixture, or something like that?

  • Dusty Says

    I have a 2019 KIA Soul turbo with about 23,000 miles. So far it has been very reliable and fun to drive. Lately, after the car has been sitting over night, I can back up with no issue, but when I put it in gear and accelerate to drive forward, the car lurches and it sounds like the transmission isn’t engaging. This is very brief. If I let the car move forward first with only idling, there is no issue.

    • Zack Norman Says

      Thanks for the comment, Dusty!

      Yeah, this sounds like a transmission hard-shifting issue, likely between the engagement of the reverse gear and 1st gear. It’s a good idea to get that checked out before it does any more serious internal damage to the gearbox.

  • annetta watkins Says

    I purchased a 2016 kia soul in December of 2021. oh how I wished i had read this information before purchasing. Problem is: I purchased from a Dave Gill Chevy. Now I need to find a Kia Repair near the Bexley area (43209). I am experiencing a knocking noise and a hesitation when accelerating. Are you able to provide the location info for me? Thank you for your reviews they were very informative; however, very scary and I’m sure will be very expensive!!!

    • Zack Norman Says

      Thanks for the comment, annetta watkins!

      Sorry to hear about your problems. I’m not entirely familiar with the Bexley area, but I’d recommend heading over to Google to find a certified Kia service center near you. While you’re there, do consider checking the reviews to make sure they’re trustworthy, and make comparisons with other Kia service centers as well as third party workshops (the latter tend to be cheaper).

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