Worst Kia Soul Years to Avoid and Long Term Reliability Problems

Patrick Oziegbe
Published On:

Are you in the market for a versatile hatchback that’s both practical and unique? We recommend the subcompact crossover car – CUV Kia Soul to you!

Hey, do not rush to the next car dealership yet. But before you make a purchase, beware of the years that could leave you stranded on the side of the road.

From 2012 to 2016, the Kia Soul experienced its lowest reliability ratings due to serious recalls and costly engine problems.

Don’t get caught in a lemon – keep reading to discover the specific issues and learn how Kia has improved the Soul in more recent years to deliver better reliability and performance known as the best year for Kia Soul cars.

Worst Model Kia Soul Years to Avoid (2012-2016)

Kia Soul Years to Avoid
©Photo Credit: DepositPhotos

When looking for a used Kia Soul, it is essential to be aware of the years to avoid due to common problems and issues. Some of the worst Kia Soul model years are:

  • 2012 Kia Soul
  • 2013 Kia Soul
  • 2014 Kia Soul
  • 2015 Kia Soul
  • 2016 Kia Soul

These model years experienced a higher rate of engine failure than average for the nameplate, with the 2015 Kia Soul being the most problematic year to avoid.

Notable Issues in Specific Years

Common problems in some of the worst Kia Soul model years include engine issues, engine failures, engine banging, and cruise control surging.

  • 2012 Kia Soul: With 470 NHTSA complaints, this year has been noted as one to avoid at all costs.
  • 2013 Kia Soul: Experienced engine failures early in its life cycle, making it less reliable than other years.
  • 2014 Kia Soul: Some owners reported having transmission issues and engine failure in this year, leading to costly repairs.
  • 2015 Kia Soul: Known for its high rate of engine problems, this year is generally considered one to avoid.
  • 2016 Kia Soul: Leaky oil and engine problems make this year less desirable for potential buyers.

Common Kia Soul Problems and Repair Costs

Some common problems include engine problems, transmission issues, and electrical problems.

  • Engine Issues

Engine issues are quite prevalent in Kia Soul models between 2012 and 2016. Some of the main concerns include significant engine failure, engine banging, cruise control surging, and leaky oil in these years.

Many owners have reported encountering these issues well before reaching 100,000 miles, causing inconvenience and costly repairs.

  • Transmission Issues

Another problem some Kia Soul owners face is transmission-related. The 2014 model, in particular, is known for having transmission problems, making it one of the years to avoid.

Issues might include difficulty shifting gears or a lack of response from the transmission when accelerating.

  • Electrical Problems

Kia Soul models may also experience electrical problems, such as faulty airbags in the 2014 model year.

Electrical issues might also involve malfunctions in the lighting system or infotainment components. These issues may be frustrating for drivers and sometimes require expensive repairs.

  • Brake Problems

Some Kia Soul owners have reported brake problems, such as brake noise or reduced effectiveness. These issues may emerge over time and require maintenance or replacement of the brake components.

Repair Costs and Average Costs

When it comes to yearly maintenance costs, one of the worst years of Kia Souls, the repair expenses amount to around $429 per year, including oil changes and inspections.

This cost is considered average or even lower when compared to other economy vehicles. However, significant issues like engine or transmission failures can quickly increase the expenses.

Models between 2012 and 2016 seem to experience more engine issues, while the 2014 model is especially known for its transmission and airbag problems.

Reliability Ratings and Reviews

The Kia Soul has garnered a reputation for its reliability, with various sources attributing the vehicle’s performance and longevity to its successful design.

The Consumer Reports, a reputable source for vehicle reviews, expects the 2023 Kia Soul to have average reliability compared to other new cars on the market.

J.D. Power, another well-known authority in the automotive industry, combines quality and dependability scores to create their ratings.

The quality score is based on the initial owner response and feedback after new purchases, while the dependability score focuses on longer-term ownership experiences after three years.

The 2023 Kia Soul has been given a five-year/60,000-mile limited warranty and a 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty, showcasing confidence in the vehicle’s durability.

However do remember the models years that were reported with various reliability issues in particular, the 2012 to 2016 models were reported to be less reliable, with engine failures occurring before 100,000 miles before they were corrected in the 2017 to 2020 models.

Safety Features and Concerns

common issues with Kia Soul
©Photo Credit: DepositPhotos

The Kia Soul is known for its practicality and quirky design, yet there have been some safety concerns in certain model years.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has reportedly issued several recalls and complaints in relation to these issues.

Airbag issues: One of the primary safety features of any vehicle is its airbag system. Unfortunately, some Kia Soul models faced issues with the failure of the airbags.

These problems were particularly prominent in the 2014, 2017, 2018, and 2019 Kia Soul models. Recalls regarding airbag systems and faulty airbags raise serious safety concerns for potential buyers.

The Seat belts issues: Seat belts are another crucial safety feature, but there haven’t been any significant issues reported for Kia Soul models in this regard.

However, it’s essential to always inspect these features when purchasing pre-owned vehicles, as seat belt functionality may degrade over time or due to accidents.

Air conditioning: While AC is not a direct safety concern, but it does affect driver comfort and may impact concentration on the road. There hasn’t been any widespread issue identified with Kia Soul’s air conditioning in any specific model year.

Generally, in addition to stated issues above, there have been a number of NHTSA complaints for the 2012 Kia Soul, primarily concerning body integrity issues and faulty safety features.

The most common problem in this year’s model is clunking noises while turning, which could potentially affect the vehicle’s stability and handling.

Third Generation Kia Soul (2019)

Newer Models

The third generation of the Kia Soul was introduced in 2019, and it brought numerous improvements over previous generations.

One of the key features of these newer models is their increased reliability, as earlier models from 2012 to 2016 were considered least reliable and had significant engine issues.

The 3rd gen has improved rear seating, providing passengers with more comfort and space.

The vehicles in this generation commonly come equipped with advanced infotainment systems that include Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility.

These features allow drivers to seamlessly incorporate their smartphones into the vehicle’s interface, making it a user-friendly experience.

Additionally, these models often feature cruise control systems, enabling drivers to maintain a set speed on highways with ease.

It is important to note that the 2019 model of the third generation Kia Soul did have an airbag fault that required an official recall, but subsequent years have addressed this issue and offer a more reliable driving experience.

Kia Soul EV

The third generation lineup also saw the introduction of the Kia Soul EV, an electric version of the popular model.

This electric motor-powered vehicle offers an eco-friendly alternative while maintaining the distinctive design and features that the Soul is known for.

The Kia Soul EV boasts a competitive range, allowing drivers to travel long distances without having to constantly recharge.

It also comes equipped with innovative technology such as regenerative braking, which helps to extend the driving range by converting energy generated during braking back into electric power.

Steps to Buying a Used Kia Soul

When searching for a used Kia Soul, it’s a good idea to consider Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) options.

CPO vehicles typically come with a warranty and have undergone thorough inspections to ensure they meet high-quality standards. By choosing a CPO Kia Soul, you’ll be getting a more reliable vehicle that has a lower risk of potential issues.

To summarize, when looking to purchase a used Kia Soul, pay close attention to the model years and consider a Certified Pre-Owned option for added protection.

Comparing Kia Models

When looking at the variety of Kia models available, it’s important to take into consideration the pros and cons of each vehicle to make an informed decision.

Now let us compare some of the notable Kia models, including the 2022 and 2023 Kia Soul, with other Kia cars available in the lineup:

Kia Model Key Advantages Potential Considerations
2022 Kia Soul Unique design, affordable price, improved reliability Boxy design may not appeal to everyone
2023 Kia Soul Similar benefits as the 2022 Soul, with potential refinements Same potential design preference concern
Kia Sportage The Sportage has spacious interior, excellent safety features Slightly higher price point and few Sportage issues.
Kia Sorento Comfortable ride, ample cargo space, Sorento available hybrid option Higher price point, larger vehicle
Kia Forte Fuel-efficient, budget-friendly price Small interior compared to other models



Are Kia Souls good cars to buy?

Kia Souls are generally considered good cars to buy due to their unique design, fuel efficiency, and value for money. However, it is important to be aware of some problematic years.

Models between 2012 and 2016 experienced significant engine issues and recalls, making them less reliable compared to other years.

Why are Kia Souls so cheap?

Kia Souls are competitively priced due to Kia’s focus on affordability and value for money. The manufacturer manages to maintain relatively lower production costs while delivering a well-equipped vehicle with numerous standard features, making the pricing more attractive to various buyers.

What is Kia Soul’s long-term reliability?

Kia Soul models from 2011, 2018, and 2020 are known for their reliability. As with any vehicle, ongoing maintenance and proper care are key factors in ensuring long-term reliability. It is advised to avoid models between 2012 and 2016 due to various engine issues.

How long do Kia Souls last?

With proper care and regular maintenance, a Kia Soul can be expected to last over 200,000 miles. Ensuring timely servicing and gentle driving habits will contribute significantly to extending the vehicle’s lifespan.

Do Kia Souls hold their value?

Kia Souls are known to offer great value for money with their unique design, fuel efficiency, and standard features. However, as with most vehicles, depreciation is expected over time – especially during the first few years of ownership.

To maintain the value, buyers should opt for reliable model years and keep up with required maintenance.


SUV driving safety

The 20 Safest States For SUV Drivers, In America (Hawaii Tops the List)

Safety is a top priority for many drivers, especially those with families. Buckle up for some surprising news that’ll have SUV drivers breathing a sigh of relief – especially if you’re cruising in Hawaii and
kia telluride years to avoid

Discover The Worst Kia Telluride Years to Avoid and Best Used Telluride

Are you ready to take on the open road in a used Kia Telluride? Before you hit the gas pedal, make sure you know which model years to avoid. While the Telluride is a top-notch three-row
Ford explorer years to avoid

Discover the Ford Explorer Years to Avoid for Used Models and Common Issues

Are you a Ford Explorer fanatic? Are you on the hunt for the perfect SUV but worried about potential issues that may arise with certain model years? Fear not, as we unveil the years you


Sign up now to get the email newsletter and exclusive deals weekly.