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Kia Reliability Guide

Learn more about Kia reliability, including which models are the most dependable and how to keep your Kia running longer.

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By:
Brogan Woodburn
By: Brogan Woodburn Senior Writer

Brogan is a Motor1.com Senior Writer based in Central Oregon. He produces in-depth auto product guides on topics spanning from auto warranties and insurance to tips on how to sell a car.

Last Updated 01/18/2024

Motor1 Reviews Team Take:

  • Kia ranks near the top in J.D. Power’s initial quality and reliability studies.
  • RepairPal ranks Kia third out of 32 auto brands in terms of reliability.
  • According to RepairPal, the average annual repair cost across all Kia models is $474, which is well below the industry average of $652.
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In the early 2000s, Kia had a reputation for manufacturing cheap, lackluster vehicles. Since then, Kia reliability has dramatically improved, and today, it is regarded among the most reliable brands and a good option for drivers looking for a low-maintenance vehicle.

This overview will cover Kia reliability details like average annual repair costs and common breakdowns. We’ll also provide advice about extended warranty coverage to keep your Kia in top shape for as long as you plan to own it.

Our review team has examined the best extended car warranty providers, and we’ll introduce you to our two top recommendations at the end of this article.


Are Kias Reliable?

The short answer is yes, Kia reliability is above average. While Kia earned a poor reputation when it entered the United States market nearly 20 years ago, much has changed. Today, the brand has an overall RepairPal reliability rating of 4.0 out of 5.0 and ranks third out of 32 car brands surveyed.

RepairPal determines reliability scores by looking at driver-reported data about brands’ average annual repair costs, the frequency of unexpected repairs, and the severity of needed repairs. Vehicles that earn a high RepairPal reliability rating, like Kias, are not likely to have many mechanical issues.

Kia guarantees its cars’ reliability with one of the best new car warranties in the industry. While most car manufacturers offer a three-year bumper-to-bumper warranty and a five-year powertrain warranty, Kia beats these numbers by a wide margin. The Kia warranty includes a five-year bumper-to-bumper warranty and a ten-year powertrain warranty.

You can expect your Kia to run well for at least a decade if you keep it properly maintained. Most significant issues will likely be covered under warranty.

Kia Factory Warranty

Kia has one of the best factory warranties in the business. New vehicles from Kia come with:

  • 5-year/60,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty
  • 10-year/100,000-mile limited powertrain warranty
  • 5-year/100,000-mile limited anti-perforation warranty
  • 5-year/60,000-mile roadside assistance plan

Kia In J.D. Power Studies

Kia performed well in the J.D. Power 2023 U.S. Vehicle Dependability Study, ranking third out of 31 auto brands when considering the number of issues after three years of ownership. Across the study, the average number of problems per 100 vehicles was 186. Kia came in well below that with 152.

In the J.D. Power 2023 U.S. Initial Quality Study, Kia had several category winners. The Rio was the highest-ranked small car, while the Stinger was the highest-ranked midsize premium car. The Kia Forte won the compact car category, while the Carnival had the highest ranking among minivans.


Most Reliable Kia Model

Based on our data, the Kia Rio is the most reliable model and requires the least repair costs. The Kia brand is reliable, but only some models are identical. The chart below shows the average annual repair cost for several Kia models, according to RepairPal. For comparison, the average repair cost across all car makes and models are $652 per year.

Kia ModelAverage Annual Kia Repair Cost
Kia Rio$434
Kia Soul$437
Kia Forte$451
Kia Sportage$462
Kia Optima$471
Kia Sedona$495
Kia Sorento$533
Kia K900$697

Except for the Kia K900, each model mentioned above has an estimated annual repair cost below the industry average, sometimes by hundreds of dollars. No matter what car you purchase, you should budget for maintenance expenses, and with Kia, you can expect these expenses to be relatively low.

You may notice the Kia Telluride is missing from the list above. This is because the new model needs more automotive repair data.


Kia Maintenance

While Kia’s reliability ratings are high, no car is entirely free of issues. Even the best-built and maintained vehicles can experience unexpected breakdowns. If you plan to purchase a Kia, make sure you’ll also be able to cover the following common repairs, as reported by RepairPal users.

Kia Model(s)Common RepairEstimated Cost
Kia SorentoKnock sensor replacement$357 to $442
Kia OptimaIgnition coil replacement$159 to $173
Kia TellurideThermostat replacement$1,058 to $1,090
Kia SpectraFuel level sending unit replacement$1,101 to $1,236
Kia SportageOil pump replacement$1,434 to $1,568

Most of the repairs above are covered by the Kia warranty. However, if your factory warranty has expired, you’ll need to pay these costs yourself. You should consider an extended auto warranty if you aren’t comfortable paying for such repairs out of pocket. A Kia extended warranty or a plan from an independent warranty provider can help you finance repairs over time and give you added peace of mind on the road.

In December 2023, our research team launched a consumer survey to better understand satisfaction with manufacturer extended warranties. A staggering 94 percent of drivers reported that they were satisfied with Kia extended warranty coverage.

One driver with Kia Stinger that was new when he purchased coverage reported being pleased with his plan.

“The extended warranty is fantastic and really meets all expectations I had for [a] warranty when I did pick it up,” he said. “Recently I did get into a small accident where the other driver was in the wrong. I survived and went ahead and filed a claim.”


Kia Reliability Overview: Conclusion

The best way to keep your Kia running smoothly is to keep up with the factory-recommended maintenance schedule and to address issues as soon as they arise. The Kia warranty with new and certified pre-owned vehicles should cover any defects in materials or quality, but these coverages will eventually expire.

An extended warranty helps cover the cost of unexpected repairs should your vehicle break down after your initial warranty period ends. While you can purchase a Kia extended warranty from the manufacturer, you can also find extended warranty coverage with third-party providers.

Best Extended Warranty Companies For Kia

Independent extended warranty companies typically offer more choices for coverage, coverage for older vehicles, a wider network of repair shops, and more extensive benefits. Two providers we recommend are Endurance and CarShield. Both performed well in our industry-wide study and among the most popular warranty companies with consumers we polled.

Our team performed secret shopping with more than 40 third-party extended warranty companies and found average monthly rates to be between $120 and $135 across the market’s most popular makes and models. The total price of an extended warranty depends on many factors but averages around $3,000, according to our research.

Bar graph depicting the four most popular extended auto warranty companies, as reported by respondents in our 2023 customer survey.

Endurance

Endurance can provide extended warranty coverage for up to 8 years or 200,000+ miles. Endurance also has some of the most comprehensive contracts on the market. There are six coverage levels to choose from, which range from simple powertrain coverage to full bumper-to-bumper warranty protection.

Read our Endurance warranty review to learn more, and get a free, personalized quote from the provider below.

CarShield

CarShield also offers extended warranty coverage for vehicles up to 300,000 miles, which can double the coverage offered by the Kia factory warranty. In addition to having a strong industry reputation and offering a good selection of coverage options, CarShield has some of the best-priced contracts in the industry.

You can learn more in our full CarShield review, and click below to receive a free, no-obligation CarShield quote.


Kia Auto Reliability: FAQ

Below are some frequently asked questions about the reliability of Kia cars.

Is Kia reliable?

Kia is a reliable car brand. Overall, RepairPal gives Kia a 4.0 out of 5.0 reliability rating and ranks it third overall for reliability (out of 32 brands).

Is Kia more reliable than Toyota?

Both Kia and Toyota are known for reliability, and both have a RepairPal reliability rating of 4.0 out of 5.0. However, RepairPal ranks Kia third overall and Toyota eighth overall, so Kias may be slightly more reliable.

Do Kias have a lot of problems?

According to RepairPal, Kias require an average of 0.2 unexpected repair shop visits per year. This is half of the average across all brands, which is 0.4 visits per year. This means that you have about a one in five chance of needing an unexpected repair each year.

Why do Kias have a bad reputation?

The Kia brand used to be known for cheap, low-quality automobiles. This is largely because when the brand first launched in the U.S., its vehicles experienced a high number of problems. Since then, Kia has improved its fleet, and the brand is now known for its exceptional reliability.

Do Kia cars last long?

Yes, Kias are known for lasting as long as other reliable vehicles like Hondas, Toyotas, and Hyundais. The automaker’s powertrain warranty lasts up to 100,000 miles, but many drivers own their Kias far beyond that milestone.