The 2021 Kia Seltos Still Struggles With Engine Problems

We’ve got our detective hats on, meaning it’s time to follow rabbit holes and forums until we have answers. Today’s case involves the Kia Seltos because we’re wondering if the engine is reliable. The 2021 Kia Seltos has a recall due to potential trouble, but did that correct the issue? 

Does the 2021 Kia Seltos have engine problems? 

A yellow 2022 Kia Seltos parked in sand
2022 Kia Seltos | Kia

First of all, for a little background information, the 2021 Kia Seltos has two engine options. The base engine is a 2.0-liter four-cylinder unit with 146 hp and 132 lb-ft of torque. You can upgrade to the 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine for 175 hp and 195 lb-ft of torque. So, definitely go with the second option. The first is a little underpowered.

Also, the 2.0-liter engine was a part of a recent recall. According to Consumer Reports, 147,249 2020-2021 Kia Seltos and Soul models with the 2.0-liter engine were recalled. An inconsistent heat-treating process for the piston oil rings could damage the engine. 

As a result, the SUVs could experience a sudden loss of power and increased fire risk. But dealers corrected the issue by inspecting the engines and adding software to provide alerts for detected problems. Some engines were also replaced. But was this the end of the story? 

Does the Seltos have different types of engine problems? 

Through our research, we found a law office that warns clients about the 2021 Kia Seltos being a potential lemon due to electrical system, engine, and suspension problems. They reference these complaints as being the most common issues reported by owners to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. 

But we aren’t on the hook just yet. The claim that an Edmunds review shared that the worst part about this SUV is the upgraded engine and transmission. The turbo in the S Turbo and SX trims whistles, driving drivers and passengers crazy. 

The dual-clutch is clunky and jerks at slow speeds. Then the SUV acts even weirder in reverse. But the link to this complaint takes you to the NHTSA site instead of Edmunds. Also, it’s for the 1.6-liter engine instead of the 2.0-liter option. 

Possible engine issues with the Kia Seltos 

A white 2021 Kia Seltos on a white background
2021 Kia Seltos | Kia

So we switched gears and went to take a look at specific engine complaints listed by owners. There are currently 13 reports of engine trouble. One driver shared that their Seltos suddenly stalled without notice. The brake pedal became unresponsive, and they had to pull the emergency brake to stop. Their local dealership mentioned that their vehicle was simply out of oil. 

Another driver was informed that her Kia Seltos was out of oil. She mentioned that it was leaking oil, and the engine made a strange knocking sound. But she was told this wasn’t related to the recent recall, and nothing was replaced or repaired. 

One driver accrued about 3,000 miles on their Seltos when they noticed that it surged while accelerating but then wouldn’t move while exiting the interstate while in drive. They had their Seltos towed, and the transmission was replaced. 

It seems like the 2021 Kia Seltos is experiencing more issues than the problems addressed by the recall earlier in the summer. But the amount of problems currently reported is low, so there seems to be a low risk of engine or transmission problems.

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