Kia transmission problems can occur due to various technical issues, such as worn or damaged gears, faulty solenoids, malfunctioning sensors, or issues with the transmission control module. Common symptoms of transmission problems include slipping gears, delayed shifting, and difficulty shifting into certain gears. Diagnostic trouble codes (DTCs) may also be stored in the vehicle’s onboard computer. It is crucial to have the vehicle inspected by a certified Kia technician to diagnose and repair any transmission issues to ensure the vehicle’s proper function and avoid further damage.
Hyundai and Kia have announced a recall for over 120,000 vehicles across eight different models due to a transmission issue that can cause the vehicle to stall and leave the driver stranded. The affected models include the 2021-2022 Hyundai Santa Fe and others. This recall is a precaution to ensure the vehicle’s occupants’ safety and prevent further transmission issues. All affected vehicle owners must have their vehicles inspected and repaired at an authorized dealership as soon as possible.
Are Kia Transmissions Reliable?
Overall, Kia transmissions are quite reliable. Most Kia transmission problems, such as transmission won’t engage, transition slips, delayed shifting, transmission bangs into gear, no drive or reverse gears, and being stuck in limp mode, are often caused by low transmission fluid. These symptoms may also be due to problems with the transmission control module, which can sometimes be fixed by having the dealer perform a software update.
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, check the transmission fluid level immediately and correct it if needed. Also, call any Kia dealer and ask if there are any Technical Service Bulletins (TSBs) or software updates for the transmission. That said, we still come across Kia vehicles with automatic transmission problems, especially those that aren’t maintained or used for towing.
Common Kia Automatic Transmission Problems
Common Kia automatic transmission problems include delayed shifting, slipping gears, difficulty shifting into certain gears, and issues with the transmission control module. Worn or damaged gears, faulty solenoids, malfunctioning sensors, or problems with the transmission control module can cause these issues. These problems can lead to poor performance and reduced fuel efficiency, which may sometimes cause the car to stall. It is important to have the vehicle inspected and repaired by a certified Kia technician to ensure proper function and avoid further damage. Let’s look at some problems and common causes of Kia automatic transmissions.
Shift flares and delayed gear changes
KIA cars that use an A4CF 4-speed automatic transmission have a common gear shift issue involving shift flares or slipping into 2nd, 3rd, and 4th gear. Sometimes, a clunk will follow a prolonged pause when selecting reverse. Usually, any symptoms will be more prominent while the car is cold. This can trigger a check engine light, so a corresponding code will be in DTC memory.
Possible causes and solutions
- Pressure drops inside the valve body as a result of leaking solenoids. An issue usually happens gradually; the symptoms will be more apparent when the vehicle is cold. As this is a prevalent problem, sets with uprated solenoids are available.
- Faulty internal harness, which causes interference in communication between TCU and solenoids. Unlike leaking solenoids, this will cause intermittent and sudden issues and trigger a check engine light with solenoid-related codes.
Erratic shifting and jumping into neutral
Vehicles that use an A4CF 4-speed automatic transmission can suffer from issues that range from jumpy gear shifts to sudden and uncontrolled shifts to neutral while driving. The driver will not engage any gear when this happens, despite selecting the drive or reverse. These issues usually trigger a check engine light, meaning a corresponding code will be in DTC memory.
Possible causes and solutions
- The faulty input or output speed sensor offsets the shift procedure and causes misleading solenoid-related codes. Deciding which of these two sensors is causing the problem is not straightforward; replacing both is the most efficient way of dealing with this issue.
Erratic and failed gear shift
A RE5R05A 5-speed automatic transmission, the Kia Sorento can suffer from many shift issues, including harsh shifts and failed gear changes. Any of these problems may occur sporadically or be present all the time. This usually triggers a check engine light, storing the code in DTC memory.
Possible causes and solutions:
- Faulty one or more solenoid valves. The usual ones to fail are those that operate the direct clutch, front brake, or input clutch. Each of them will trigger a different code, which will help narrow down the problem.
- Wiring issues are caused by damage or corrosion. This creates problems with communication between the TCU and solenoids. The resulting symptoms resemble a failed solenoid, so double-checking the wiring and solenoid is recommended.
- Broken or corroded connectors on the control board result in sporadic signal loss. While corrosion is easy to clean off, soldering broken connectors may be unreliable. Instead, replace the board with a new or undamaged second-hand one.
Harsh or delayed gearshifts
KIA cars with A6GF1 6-speed transmissions have a widespread issue with harsh or delayed gear changes.
In most cases, this problem will be intermittent and more present when the car reaches operating temperature. A check engine light can also come on, which means a code will be stored inside DTC memory.
Possible causes and solutions
- Faulty transmission fluid temperature sensor, which will give false output readings. This transmission is susceptible to temperature; this will cause running issues and trigger a check engine light. Typical error codes range from P0711 to P0714. Checking both the sensor and corresponding wiring will reveal the source of the problem.
- These transmissions feature an adaptive learning procedure that adjusts shift patterns based on drivers’ habits. When drivers with different styles use the same car, gear shifts may seem unusual. Resetting the learning procedure may solve the issue.
Vibrations while accelerating or harsh shifting
Vehicles that use a D7UF1 7-speed dual-clutch transmission can suffer from several typical issues, including delayed response, strong vibration, rattle during accelerations or while idling, and harsh shifting. In most cases, the symptoms will be more noticeable when driving aggressively. These problems will not trigger a check engine light.
Possible causes and solutions
- A worn dual-mass flywheel results in a metallic rattle on idle caused by excessive play. When checking the flywheel condition, look for any free movement between the plates and replace them if there is any.
- An overheated clutch assembly can cause the clutch to stick to the flywheel, resulting in delayed gear changes. One of the possible causes is a driving style that is too aggressive. In some cases, updating the TCU software to the latest version using a suitable diagnostic tool can help some vehicles with outdated software.
- Broken or worn engine or gearbox mounts. This allows excessive movement, causing the engine and gearbox to jump when pulling off from a standstill.
Troubleshooting Kia Transmission Problems
If your Kia has developed transmission problems, we recommend immediately checking the transmission fluid level.
Check the Transmission Fluid Level
- Park the vehicle on level ground when possible.
- Set the parking brakes and shifter in Park.
- Pull the hood release and open the hood.
- Locate the transmission dipstick.
- Remove the dipstick and clean it with a clean cloth.
- Reinsert the dipstick in the transmission. Ensure the dipstick is fully inserted, then remove it.
- Look carefully at the dipstick to determine the current transmission fluid level. The level should be between MIN and MAX for the COLD (lower) markings.
- If the level is low, add transmission fluid level.
- Drive the vehicle for fifteen minutes and select all the gears manually.
- Repeat the procedure once the transmission warm-up, but the level must be between the MIN and MAX marks this time.
Not all Kia vehicles have a transmission dipstick. If the dipstick is not present, the car will need to be raised on a lift, and the level can be checked via the fill hole.
Read Transmission Fault Codes
The YOUCANIC Full System Scanner can read and clear fault codes through every vehicle’s control module.
The next step is to read fault codes from the transmission control module, or what is known as the TCU. To read these codes, you will need a Kia Transmission Scanner. Basic code readers are not recommended because they will show a generic system or may not show a fault code.
- Park the vehicle and turn off the ignition—set parking brakes.
- Locate the diagnostic port under the dashboard, driver’s side.
- Plug in your OBD-II scanner, then turn on the ignition without starting the engine.
- The scanner will turn on. Allow it to communicate with the vehicle—Select Kia, then your particular.
- Select Control Units, then Transmission.
- Select Read Fault Codes from the main menu.
These steps work on all Kia vehicles 2000 and newer, including Kia Rio, Sportage, Telluride, Stinger, Sorento, Optima, Soul, Sedona, Forte, K900, and Cadenza. All these models have an OBD-II diagnostic port under the dashboard on the driver’s side.
Make sure to use a Kia scanner that can read transmission codes. Generic scanners typically only read codes from the Engine Control Unit (ECU), but you need a scanner that can also read codes from the Transmission Control Unit (TCU).
Frequently Asked Questions
How long does Kia Transmission last?
With proper maintenance, your transmission could last approximately 200,000 miles (321,870 Kilometers).
How much does Kia charge for a transmission repair/replacement?
Transmission replacement costs around $1,500 to $3,400 for parts and $500-1,500 for labor.
How to know if I have a bad transmission?
Burning Smell on Transmission
Transmission Fluid Color is Dark/Dirty
Difficulty in Shifting Gears
We hope you find the Most Common KIA Transmission Problems guide helpful. Check these troubleshooting and repair guides for more help on your Kia.
Have questions about your car? Get assistance in our newly launched forum section. We’re here to provide support!