8 Problems With Kia Forte (Recalls & Reliability Scores)

The Kia Forte is among the best compact cars regarding reliability, fuel economy, and other essential features most look for when looking for their next car. The newest models also offer an attractive design. However, you’re likely wondering what common problems and issues the Kia Forte may come with.

The most common problem with Kia Forte is the engine issues that come with specific models. They are also known to have problems with the transmission, ignition coils, and there have been several recalls for the airbags. You may also experience various problems with the exterior lighting and electrical system.

Whether you’re shopping for a Kia Forte or already own one, it’s best to know what to expect from your car. It’s even better to know how to handle these common problems if you do encounter them. In this article, we’ll cover all of these things and how much it may cost to fix these common problems.

Is Your Kia Forte Having Issues?

If you already own a Kia Forte and you’re having issues with your car, there’s a good chance it could be related to one of the common problems and issues other Forte owners have experienced.

Luckily, we’ll provide you with answers as to what you’re experiencing and the best ways to solve the problem.

How Reliable is the Kia Forte

The Kia Forte is known to be a reliable car overall. It makes a great option if you’re looking for a long-lasting compact car with good fuel economy and low maintenance costs.

Repair Pal rates the Forte a 4.5 out of 5 in terms of reliability based on the cost, severity, and frequency of repairs. This places the Forte at number 6 of the 36 compact cars included in this rating.

However, some models have proven to be problematic, with some issues being worse than others. So to look more in-depth at the Forte’s reliability, you’ll want to look at their common problems.

Most Common Issues with the Kia Forte

1. Transmission Issues

Forte owners have reported 127 problems related to their transmission, according to carproblemzoo.com.

Many of these included that their transmission failed while going down the road. This issue is reported most in 2011, 2014, and 2019 models and can occur at as low as 50,000 miles.

In most cases, the first signs of the problem were rough shifting, scraping sounds, or the check engine light coming on. Some also noted that finding debris in their transmission fluid. Ultimately, these initial symptoms led to the transmission failing.


Once the transmission fails, the only solution is to replace it.

A new transmission for the Kia Forte runs between $1500 and $3500. In addition, you can expect to pay between $500 and $1500 in labor costs.

2. Ignition Coils

Other Forte owners have experienced issues with their engines related to faulty ignition coils. This problem has been reported in several models but is most common for the 2017 Forte.

The most common symptoms of bad ignition coils include:

  • Decreased power/hesitation when accelerating
  • Your car not starting.
  • Engine misfires
  • Worsened fuel economy
  • Rough idling

Some owners have also experienced their engine stalling while driving because of this problem.


The best way to pinpoint bad ignition coils is to scan for a code if your check engine light is on. Most models will give specific codes for the ignition coils, while others may only provide a misfire code.

To replace the ignition coils, you can expect to spend around $145 for the parts and between $35 and $95 for labor.

3. Wiring Problems

While the issues with the ignition coils can be fairly simple to pinpoint and fix, the common wiring problems in the Kia Forte could be more of a challenge.

Several Forte owners have complained of problems relating to faulty wiring. Some have experienced issues with their headlights shutting off randomly or when they use the blinker.

Additionally, there is a recall for the 2014 Forte because of a wiring defect that can cause the cooling fan resistor to overheat, melt, and possibly cause the vehicle to catch fire.


If you suspect your Forte has a wiring issue, it’s best to have it diagnosed as soon as possible, as some wiring issues could compromise the safety of your car. In addition, wiring problems can be challenging to pinpoint without the proper equipment.

On average, having your electrical system diagnosed will cost between $80 and $120.

4. Exterior Lighting Issues

The Kia Forte’s wiring problems also play a hand in some exterior lighting problems. Carproblemzoo.com lists 122 complaints related to the Forte’s exterior lighting.

Many Forte owners have experienced problems with their exterior lights flickering and eventually not working at all. Others have mentioned their brake lights staying lit constantly.

Other exterior lighting problems the Forte is known for are related to faulty seals that leak and allow water to get into the headlights, brake lights, etc.


The issue was resolved for some by simply replacing bad fuses. In some cases, these fuses were not directly related to the lighting. So, checking all of your fuses and replacing any bad ones may be all you need to do to fix the problem.

Alternatively, several recalls have been issued relating to some of these lighting problems.

If your car was included in one of these recalls, you can take your car to the dealership to have it repaired for free.

5. Air Bag Problems

Some Forte models also have issues with the airbags that may pose more of a safety concern than the lighting issues. As a result, many models have been recalled because the airbags may not perform as they should.

Many Forte owners have noticed that their airbag warning light stays on. When the light is on, the chances that the airbag will deploy are slim. There are several reasons this could happen.

Just like with any car brand and model, such as a Kia Forte to a Mazda 3, some models have been recalled because of a defect with the airbags.

For example, a recall was issued for the 2017 Kia Forte due to a defect that could damage the circuit board, causing the airbags to be deactivated. In addition, 2010-2013 models also have open recalls due to a faulty control unit that could prevent the airbags from deploying.


Your airbag light staying on could be related to one of the airbag recalls. Your local dealership can evaluate and repair the problem for free if there is an open recall for the issue.

If you run into an airbag problem that hasn’t been recalled, it’s best to have a professional diagnose and fix it. Attempting to repair an airbag issue on your own can be complex and dangerous.

6. Security Issues

There are also security concerns that you may want to consider. Many Hyundai and Kia vehicles, including the Kia Forte, have been popular targets for thieves because of a defect that makes them able to start the car with a USB.

They can do this because certain models do not have an immobilizer, which prevents the car from being started without the correct key being in the ignition.

The issue is most common in 2015-2021 models with regular keys rather than push-to-start. However, some push-to-start models are affected. 

Despite numerous complaints and several lawsuits, there have not been any recalls issued to correct this issue.


However, if you own one of the vehicles with this problem, there are several ways to protect your vehicle.

Adding an aftermarket alarm system or steering wheel lock is one of the best ways to prevent your car from being stolen.

Many owners have also added tracking devices to their cars to make it easier to locate their vehicles if someone is able to steal them.

While the security issues are widespread, others are more specific to certain models.

7. Fluid May Leak out of Front Axle Seal

The 2010 Kia Forte with a 6sp manual transaxle has one issue that doesn’t seem to affect other models. This specific model is known to have front axle seals that damage easily due to defective design.

Seals that are damaged allow fluid to leak. The most common symptom of this leak is a wet/oily puddle near one of your front wheels. When this is present, it’s likely due to a leaking front axle seal. With a severe leak, you may also notice unusual noise from the area.


If you notice this leak, you’ll need to replace the seal and the inner axle tripod housing to prevent the issue from happening again.

If the leak is severe, you should avoid driving the car until you repair these to prevent more severe damage.

It’s also best to replace these parts on both sides when you do this repair.

8. Engine Problems

The most commonly reported problems with the Forte are problems with the engine. Currently, there are 728 complaints regarding the engine alone. Most of these complaints are because of knocking sounds and engine cooling issues.

Many Forte owners have reported hearing a clicking or knocking sound from their engines. Most compare the sound to the sound of a rod knocking. However, this usually isn’t what causes the sound.

Many have found that this problem was related to pistons or low oil levels, but many things could cause this problem.

Others have experienced problems with their engine overheating. Many owners who have experienced this issue state that it causes the engine to stall while driving. On rare occasions, this problem has caused the vehicle to catch on fire.


When the engine overheats, the most common cause is a low coolant level because of a leak. If you have a coolant leak, you can have a mechanic diagnose the leak for between $40 and $60 on average. The repair cost will vary based on what they find.

Other times, it’s due to foreign particles getting inside the oil pump and causing it to fail. 2017 and 2018 Forte models were recalled because of this problem, and you can have it repaired for free under this recall.

Unfortunately, most Forte owners who reported their engines having a knocking noise eventually had to replace the entire engine. Replacing the engine in your Kia Forte could cost up to $5300.

What Years Did the Kia Forte Have Problems?

You can quickly determine which Kia Forte year models are the most problematic by comparing the PPMY index for each year.

This index compares the reliability in a way that makes the comparison fair between cars of different ages.

As you can see, the most problematic years for the Kia Forte are:

  • 2012
  • 2013
  • 2014

The most common issues with all of these models were engine-related issues that often required expensive repairs.

It’s best to avoid these models if you’re looking for a reliable car that you aren’t likely to run into severe issues with. For a more reliable option, consider going with the 2020 or 2016 models, as they are known to be less problematic.

In addition to figuring out which is the most reliable, it’s important to check for open recalls on the car.

Recent Recall Numbers

Recalls are issued because of defects that can pose a threat to the safety of those riding in the car. So, it’s important to know what recalls are open for the car, whether you’re considering buying it or already owning it.

The table below gives you an overview of some of the most recent recalls that have been issued for the Kia Forte.

22V304000Steering: Column
21V622000Latches/locks/linkages  Trunk lid: Latch
21V260000Engine and engine cooling: Engine: Oil/lubrication: Pump
21V164000Airbags: airbag/restraint control module
20V459000Power train: Axle assembly: Axle shaft

This list only includes recent recalls. To find out if your vehicle was recalled by one of these or older recalls, you’ll need to look up which recalls are specific to your car.

You can find this information on the NHTSA’s website.

Check to See Whether Your Vehicle Has an Open Recall

To find specific information for your Kia Forte, you can go to https://www.nhtsa.gov/recalls, enter your VIN, and click search. 

You can also choose to enter the make, model, and year of your car if you don’t have the VIN on hand. Once you hit search, you will see a list of open recalls relevant to your car.

How is it Compared to Similar Cars?

When comparing the Kia Forte to other compact cars, it’s ranked among the most reliable on many reputable rating scales, including J.D. Power and Repair Pal.

The Toyota Corolla is ranked as the most reliable compact car on Repair Pal’s reliability ranking for 2022. The Corolla outranks the Kia mostly in terms of ownership costs.

The Corolla’s estimated annual repair cost is close to $100 less than the Forte. However, they are both considered to have “excellent ownership costs in comparison to the yearly costs of owning other compact cars.

In addition to lower ownership costs, the Corolla is likely to last for around 100,000 miles more than the Forte.

The Hyundai Elantra ranked slightly below the Forte at number 8. However, the two are pretty well equal in terms of reliability.

They share similar ownership costs and a similar tendency for urgent repairs and expected mileage, which is also an important factor to consider.

What is the Life Expectancy and Mileage?

On average, the Kia Forte will last between 150,000 and 200,000 miles. This means that it will last an average of 13 to 17 years, depending on how many miles you put on the car each year.

However, this estimate is only accurate for those that have been well-maintained.

What Do Owners Say About the Car?

If you’re considering a Forte for your next car, it can also be helpful to see the experience other owners have had with the car.

“Great car. Very reliable. I would definitely buy another in the future. Drives great and the style is just right. I have previously owned a Kia before and love the vehicles.” (2017 Owner)

“I was hesitant to buy a car made outside of the U.S., but the 10-year warranty made me visit the dealership, after the test drive and looking at all the features and price, I had to take it home.” (2010 Owner)

“This car has been nothing but trouble since I bought it. It has just over 70k miles and the engine light has been on the past 10k. It dies at stop lights and stop signs. The engine light codes are all about the Camshaft being miss aligned or something like that.” (2021 Owner)

What is Good and Bad About the Car?

All the information you receive when looking for a new car can be overwhelming. Sometimes, taking a look at a quick breakdown of the good and bad things about the car can make things less overwhelming.

Pros of the Kia Forte:

  • Lasting and Reliable
  • Newer models have helpful safety features
  • Good fuel economy
  • Attractive and modern interior design

Cons of the Kia Forte:

  • It may not ride as smoothly as similar cars
  • The back seat is not very spacious
  • More costly to maintain than some similar cars

Is it Worth Buying Used?

A used Kia Forte can be a great option if you know what to look out for and what to avoid.

Kia Forte models that are known to be problematic at a low mileage aren’t the best option if you’re looking to buy a used Kia Forte. It’s also best to avoid a used Forte with high mileage if you need it to last for several years.

With any used car, you should check the maintenance history if it’s available. Vehicles that have not been maintained well by previous owners may not last as long as the car usually would.


While the Kia Forte has a few common problems and issues, it’s still a reliable car. So if you’re looking for a reliable, compact car, the Forte could be an excellent choice, as long as you avoid those who have proven to require complex repairs.