Kia Motors has been one of the largest automobile manufacturers in South Korea. Formerly known as Kyungsung Precision Industry, Kia manufacturers vehicles under their own brand and is minority-owned by Hyundai.

Originally founded in 1944, Kia began as a manufacturer of steel tubes and bicycle parts. In the early 1950s, Kia broadened its scope into manufacturing motorcycles and Honda-licensed vehicles. In the 1960s and 70s, Kia transitioned into building Mazda trucks and cars. Starting in 1981, Kia began building vehicles under their own name.

Kia Motors is based in Seoul, South Korea and distributes vehicles worldwide except in Japan and North Korea. The company has developed a reputation for reliability, becoming the first auto manufacturer to be ranked first by J.D. Power and Associates despite not manufacturing luxury automobiles.

Popular Models

Kia has a variety of models that are popular internationally. The best-selling model Kia offers is the Kia Forte. First manufactured in 2008, the Forte is also known as the K3 and the Shuma. The Forte is a compact car that comes in a gas-powered as well as hybrid models.

Kia also manufactures a wide range of sports utility vehicles. The Kia Soul is another of Kia's top-selling models. The Soul is a crossover SUV that has been manufactured since 2009. The smallest SUV offered by Kia, the Soul is a five-door, front wheel drive SUV. Other SUV offerings from Kia include the Sorento and Sportage.

Another popular Kia model is the Kia Optima. The Optima is the most popular midsize sedan model Kia has on the market. Known as the K5 or the Magentis in some markets, the Optima is a front wheel drive sedan that has been manufactured continuously since 2000. While originally just a reworked variant of the Hyundai Sonata, the Optima has since taken on a sportier look that is nothing like the original version.

Kia Safety Ratings

When it comes to safety ratings, Kia regularly scores near-perfect grades for crashworthiness. The Kia Optima scored the highest rating on every metric for the 2019 model, including a score of Superior for front crash prevention. The Optima was rated as a top safety pick for 2019 by the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety.

The Kia Soul has also been consistently rated high by the IIHS. For the 2019 model, the Soul received the highest marks available except for passenger-side crashworthiness, which was still rated as “Acceptable.” In fact, none of Kia's most popular models scored below “Acceptable” on any crashworthiness test for 2019.

Another IIHS Top Safety Pick for 2019 is the Kia Sorento. With top marks on every criterion other than the ease of use for child safety seat anchors, the Sorento is one of the highest-rated sports utility vehicles available.

Recalls, Defects, and Safety Issues

With its sterling record on safety tests, it would be easy to assume that problems with Kia vehicles are few and far between. Unfortunately, like any auto manufacturer, Kia has repeatedly dealt with safety issues. While some safety complaints have led to manufacturer recalls, others are in various stages of investigation and are still present in models on the road. To see if there are any Kia safety recalls that affect your vehicle, you can search using your VIN number on the Kia website. Below, we discuss some of the recent safety issues that have occurred in Kia vehicles.

Fire Risk

After a series of three individual NHTSA recalls, Kia is still in the process of resolving a vehicle design flaw that has led to overheating and engine fires. To date, nearly 500,000 Kia and Hyundai vehicles have been recalled, with the majority involving the Kia Soul. Despite the first company recall occurring in 2015, more than 300 fires have been reported involving Kia and Hyundai vehicles since then. The fires are caused by overheating in the catalytic converter, an issue that some critics believe may affect far more than the vehicles recalled thus far. At least one fatality has been reported due to these fires.

The recalls over fire risk have been largely downplayed by Kia, but American regulators have increased their interest in the issue. In addition to NHTSA inquiries, both the United States Congress and the Department of Justice have reviewed made efforts to investigate any potential wrongdoing related to the fire risks.

Engine Stalling

While primarily affecting Kia vehicles sold in Canada, the auto company announced in early 2019 that more than 100,000 Kia vehicles worldwide are at risk for engine stalling. The stalling is due to a software error that prevents the engine from detecting some problems before engine failure. Kia representatives have been vague about the specific cause but promised that a simple software update can address the issue.

Faulty Airbag Deployment

Nearly 100,000 Kia Sedona minivans manufactured between 2015 and 2018 have the potential for airbags to deploy in unsafe circumstances. The issue relates to a faulty wiring harness built into the front passenger seat. The harness is a component of the system that determines if a passenger is in the front passenger seat during collisions. When the seat is used regularly, the wiring harness can decay and give a false positive. This is especially dangerous when children that are below the weight limit are riding in the front passenger seat, as the airbag deployment can easily injure them.

Kia Problems? Discuss Your Options With an Attorney and Get the Help You Need.

Whether you have been affected by the widespread fire issues or something less severe, it is critical that you discuss any safety issue you have with The Lemon Lawyer. The State of California has lemon laws designed to protect you from faulty vehicle design, but those rights aren't worth much to you if you don't use them. When you have The Lemon Lawyer on your side, you can rest easy knowing that an experienced professional is ready to fight for you. To discuss any Kia safety or recall issues, contact The Lemon Lawyer today to schedule your free consultation.

Don't Hesitate

The longer you let your car sit in the shop, the greater the cost is to you. If you think you may have a case, get in touch with one of our attorneys today.