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2012 Kia Sorento Engine Problems – This Car Model Is Known For Engine Issues! 

2012 Kia Sorento Engine Problems – This Car Model Is Known For Engine Issues! 

The Kia Sorento is a midsize crossover SUV produced by Kia since 2002. Despite the worldwide popularity, the 2012 Kia Sorento engine problems deter some car owners from purchasing this model year when shopping for a new vehicle. With a history of catastrophic engine failure, we recommend car owners stay away from this vehicle at all costs! 

Auto Repairs Are EXPENSIVE

Overview of Kia Sorento Engine

First Generation 2002-2009

The Kia Sorento first generation debuted in February of 2002. This generation was produced from 2002 to the 2009 model years, with the car on a traditional truck-based SUV frame, competing with dual side-curtain airbags, an optional four-wheel drive system, and two transmission options. 


The first generation Kia Sorentos all contain the Hyundai-produced 3.5-liter 24-valve DOHC V6 engine that produces 192 horsepower and 217 pounds per foot of torque at 3,000 RPM. in the 2007 model, the Sorento updated their engine to the 3.3-liter Sigma with 235 horsepower and 226 pounds per foot of torque, along with the new 3.8-liter Lambda, producing 263 horsepower. 

Second Generation 2011-2015

The second generation of the Sorento was produced from the 2011 to 2015 model years, with the major changes focusing on the change in body construction, low-ratio transfer case addition, less weight, and independent suspension. 


The SX trim was available with the 3.5-liter 276 horsepower V6 engine, while the Base and the LX version came with the 2.4-liter straight-4 174 horsepower engine. 

Overview of 2012 Kia Sorento engine problems

The main issue that plagues the sorento and causes the 2012 Kia Sorento engine problems is the catastrophic engine failure

  • Catastrophic engine failure results in a complete engine rebuild or replacement, causing owners to pay an extraordinarily high repair cost to fix this issue. 
    • If the problems are not remedied, the driver will have a much higher crash risk.


The engine in your car can fail for several reasons, any of which can cause the 2012 Kia Sorento engine problems. The most common causes of engine failure include a lack of maintenance, engine oil leaks, and over-revving by the driver that can put excess stress and strain on the engine. 

  • If you do not stay up to date with the maintenance and oil changes, sludge can accumulate and breakdown the internal engine components. 
  • Sludge accumulation and debris building on the interior of your engine can increase friction, causing heat to build up and raise the internal temperature. A higher temperature will damage other internal engine components, leading to further 2012 Kia Sorento engine problems. 
  • In addition, if a car is continuously pushed over the maximum and recommended RPM, dynamic engine components will break down, causing premature engine failure and causing the extensive 2012 Kia Sorento engine problems.
  • Even if you keep up to date with the maintenance of your car, most vehicles will experience significant issues with their major components at some point in their lives. 
    • These important components include the engine, transmission, or the body of the car itself, with car owners having to perform an expensive repair or  replacement oftentimes below the 200,000 mile mark. 

2012 Kia Sorento engine problems

Catastrophic engine failure

The most common and most severe one of the 2012 Kia Sorento engine problems includes the catastrophic engine failure. Owners report this issue occurs at an average of 83,000 miles,with car owners reporting this as a 9.4 out of 10 on the severity rating scale. The typical repair cost for this hefty fix is around $5,240 to replace the entire engine in your Sorento.

  • Owner #1 reported the car stalls several times per week while driving, even after replacing the electric module, crankshaft sensor, alternator, throttle body, CA< sensor, and the MAP sensor. 
  • Owner #2 stated that the car completely seized and failed within a few months of purchasing. Smoke came out of the dipstick hole and the oil looked filled with sludge, too hot, and debris-filled. 
  • Owner #3 reported the car suddenly lost power and the power steering suddenly stopped working while they were driving at highway speeds. Along with the loud cracking noises, the car had to pull over to the side of the road. The owner complained the Kia sorento was not involved with the aforementioned recall. 

Excessive oil consumption

The second most severe when looking at the 2012 Kia Sorento engine problems is the excessive oil consumption in the 2012 Sorento. The most common solution is usually to replace the short block at around 109,000 miles. Owners state this problem is an 8.3 out of 10 on the severity scale.

  • The most common causes of the excessive oil consumption in the car involves the oil mobility, piston ring failure, cylinder wall oil evaporation, blow-by from cylinder bores, too much oil in the crankcase, and high oil pressure. 
  • Owners of the sorento may have to replace their piston rings, costing around $1,500 minimum for this task. The reason this fix is so costly is due to the complete disassembly of the engine to replace the piston rings and recondition the cylinders.
  • If this does not fix the issue, owners will have to fix the relief valve in order to remedy the high oil pressure.  

Check Engine Light On

The third most common issue when discussing the 2012 Kia Sorento engine problems involves the check engine light turning on the dashboard, with the owner stating this issue occurs at around 77,000 miles. This problem is rated as an 8,3 out of 10 on the severity rating scale. 

  • Owner #1 stated the check engine light goes on and turns off a few days later. When the sensor is reset and the light turns off, the problem is only fixed for a short while – the check engine light turns back on again, indicating an issue with the air vac.
  • Owner #2 stated the car lost power while going 60 miles per hour. The solution was to use a factory reconditioned motor in the car and install the part for free.

Engine stalling

Owners complain of hte engine stalling at around 65,000 miles, with the severity rating of this issue coming to 8.0 out of 10 when comparing the 2012 Kia Sorento engine problems. 

  • The most common causes of engine stalling include dirty fuel injectors, water in the fuel, a faulty intake air temperature sensor, problems with the crankshaft position sensor, fouled spark plugs, a faulty ignition coil, or an overheating fuel pump.
    • Replacing fuel injectors costs between $800 and $1450 for a full replacement.
    • Replacing the intake air temperature sensor cost is between $95 and $106, with the labro between $40 and $51.
    • Replacing spark plugs is between $16 and $100, wth the labor between $40 and $150.
    • Replacing the ignition coil is between $264 and $376, with the labor between $99 and $126 for between 1 hour and 1.25 hours of work. 
  • Owner #1 stated the car dies during heavy traffic, with the dashboard lights flashing and flickering while driving. 
  • Owner #2 stated the car completely shut off while driving, forcing the driver to put the car in neutral and pull over to the side of the road. The culprit was an engine rod that almost pushed through the entire engine block. 

Are newer Kia sorento models safe to drive?

Fortunately for `kia sorento owners and those looking for newer-year models, Kia Sorento models have not experienced the same 2012 Kia Sorento engine problems in the newer years. The Institute for HIghway Safety named the 2020 Kia Sorento a Top Safety Pick, along with the NHTSA giving this car a 4 out of 5 star rating. 


The 2021 Kia Sorento model also shows no signs of the 2012 Kia Sorento engine problems recurring in this model year. The base model comes with various safety features that can inspire confidence and reliability in the driver. 

  • The safety features that can prevent the 2012 Kia Sorento engine problems from happening again in the 2021 model include forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, speed limit adaptation, lane assistance, and rear-seat occupant alert.
  • Other advanced features can be added on higher trim levels to enhance user confidence.
    • These advanced features include blind spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, and cross-traffic alert. 

Along with these safety features, the base model of the 2021 Sorento comes with a eight-speed automatic transmission and a 2.5-inline four engine.

  • The 2.5-liter inline four engine produces 191 horsepower and can produce 182 pounds per foot of torque for added performance. 
  • The most expensive Sorento trim contains a 2.5-liter inline-four engine that can produce 281 horsepower and 311 pounds of torque, reducing the prevalence of the 2012 Kia Sorento engine problems in this model year. 

2012 Kia Sorento Engine replacement cost

With the average replacement cost coming to between $3,000 and $7,000 for your Kia sorento, the total price may not be worth the debt you will be in for the repair. Instead of an engine replacement, many car owners look towards other solutions – like an engine rebuild or selling their car to a used junk car dealer.

2012 Kia Sorento Engine Rebuild Cost

  • A typical engine rebuild will typically run between $2,500 and $4,000 in parts and labor costs, with the type of engine repair depending on which parts need to be removed and replaced. In some cases, the bearings and seals may need to be removed, while in other cases, the entire engine may need to be taken apart. 
    • In an engine rebuild, the most common parts that have to be replaced due to friction damage and wear-and-tear include the O rings, bearings, gaskets, timing belt, timing chain, valve springs, oil pump, and seals. If the 2012 Kia Sorento engine problems have caused extensive damage, then the mechanic may also have to replace the crankshaft and pistons.
    • The advantages of rebuilding your Sorento engine is recycling engine parts and reducing the stress and environmental harm. Furthermore, the best benefit of choosing a rebuild is the compatibility with the electrical system. Since the ECU is programmed to work with the original engine, keeping the original parts enhances the electrical connectivity and prevents further 2012 Kia Sorento engine problems. 

2012 Kia Sorento Engine Replacement Cost

  • To fix the 2012 Kia sorento engine problems, you can expect to spend over $3,000 for a replacement. In some cases, engine replacement’s total cost will cost the driver around $7,500 for parts and labor.
    • Most V8 vehicles will run between $5,000 and $10,000 for the parts’ cost, since the V8 engines are more performance-oriented and contain edition horsepower compared to 4-cylinder or V6 engines. If you have a high-level trim in the 2012 Sorento, you can expect your replacement costs to reach at least $5,000. 
  • The average labor will be between 10-15 hours of billed time. For more modern cars, drivers should expect between 15 and 20 hours of labor for a typical replacement. Most of the time required for the replacement comes down to how much labor and work the mechanic has to do to fix the 2012 Kia Sorento engine problems. 

Is the Kia Sorento Reliable?

The 2021 version of the Kia sorento is considered a reliable car when compared to the previous 2012 Kia Sorento engine problems. This model year earned favorable rankings in various categories, such as;

  • #1 in Midsize SUVs category
  • #3 in Crossover SUVs category
  • #1 in SUVs with 3 Rows category
  • Winner in the 2021 Best 3-Row SUV for the Money

Along with the favorable rankings in three categories, the Kia Sorento also has various positive features. The pros of this model year include the favorable gas mileage and fuel economy, comfortable and spacious first two rows of seats, upscale and luxurious interior, and the very high predicted reliability rating. 


The only negatives of the 2021 Sorento is the lack of cargo space behind the third row and the uncomfortable third row seats. The new Sorento does not have any performance or engine concerns similar to the previously-mentioned 2012 Kia Sorento engine problems. 


The Car US News scorecard gives the Kia sorento an 8.5 of 10 on their scorecard. The Sorento earned an 8.3 for critics rating, 7.1 for performance, 7.6 for interior, and 5 out of 5 of the reliability rating from JD Power. 

2012 Kia Sorento Engine Problems Recalls

Recall #1

In 2017, Kia Motor Company recalled certain 2011-2014 Optima, 2012-2014 Sorento and 2011-2013 Kia sportage vehicles. The problems with these cars include matching errors during the production process that can cause an engine bearing to break down prematurely within the engine component

  • If this occurs in your car, it can cause a host of 2012 Kia Sorento engine problems, such as the engine seizing. If your engine seizes, it will highly increase the risk of a crash. 
  • This recall affected 618,160 vehicles that contained the 2012 Kia Sorento engine problems. 

Recall #2

The second recall occured in December of 2020, with Kia announcing that an engine compartment fire can increase the risk of injury in Kia Sorento occupants.

  • Kia recalled certain 2012-2013 Sorento, 2012-2013 Forte and Forte Koup, 201-2013 Optima Hybrid, and 2014-2015 Soul vehicles that could burst into flame while driving.
  • There were 294,756 affected vehicles, including the Sorentos that featured the 2012 Kia Sorento engine problems.