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The Kia Sportage is a fun, affordable SUV option for many families. Kia has a reliable reputation now, so those venturing into ownership usually do so with peace of mind. However, as with any model vehicle with more than 20 years of production, there are bound to be a few common problems that come to light.

We took a deeper dive to learn what some past Kia Sportage owners have encountered over the years. And, a few of these issues are serious enough that you should definitely know about them before you buy a Sportage.

The most common Kia Sportage problems

According to RepairPal, a site that calculates actual vehicle owner problems and associated costs, a defective A/C compressor is a major concern. Over 100 people reported the A/C compressor clutch assembly starts making noise, or in some cases vibrations, when the air conditioning is on.

The fix is usually a complete replacement of the clutch assembly, but not necessarily the A/C compressor itself. Unfortunately, the average cost is anywhere from $680-$972, which can hurt the bank account. Over eight model years are represented in these complaints, and the failures are reported to have occurred within 15,000 to 260,000 miles.

The Kia Sportage’s dreaded check engine light

The check engine light can be a sign of a minor electrical problem, or it can be an indication that a major malfunction is about to occur. For many Kia Sportage models between 1995 and 2000, the check engine light can represent a throttle position switch (TPS) problem.

For many owners, the light illuminated along with a stumble upon acceleration. The good news is Kia did release an improved part for replacement. Those 104 reports collected by RepairPal averaged between $88 and $111 in out of pocket repair costs.

Transmission reprogramming reports

Any transmission repairs might be considered significant or overly expensive. Reprogramming the transmission control module is not one of those ‘deal-breaking’ concerns, but it is certainly a commonly reported fix.

For more than 60 Kia Sportage owners of models 2000 to present, getting the software updates seemed to keep their check engine lights off. For models older than 2000 and with higher mileage, this software update may not do the trick. RepairPal recommends that software upgrades should accompany any transmission maintenance or repairs.

The leaky fuel tank problem

Consumers who live in wintery regions of the country know how detrimental salted roads are to vehicles. For many Kia Sportage owners, accelerated corrosion of the gas tanks for models between 1996-2002, is common.

If you own one of these model years and think you’re experiencing a slow gas leak, visit your local Kia dealership. Kia did extend the fuel tank warranty on these Sportage vehicles, with a bulletin number 059. On average, the 60 plus owners spent around $80-$120 for repairs.

Did you hear that?

For more than 30 Kia Sportage owners, the navigation units stopped playing audio from the suite of vehicle speakers. The cabins fall eerily quiet as no sound comes from the radio, phone connectivity, navigation, or CD players.

The fix isn’t a ‘part’ problem, rather a software glitch that requires a hard reset. A hard reset can be a do-it-yourself fix at home, so usually, no costly trips to the dealership or mechanic’s shop. Instead, disconnecting and reconnecting the battery for a period of 15 minutes or so should do the trick.

If you are thinking about shopping for or buying a pre-owned Kia Sportage, just knowing some of the common pitfalls of current owners can be a big help. Asking the previous owner about these problems can help you save in the long run.


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