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14 Common Problems Of The Kia Telluride

14 Common Problems Of The Kia Telluride

When it comes to midsize SUVs, the American-made Kia Telluride is up there with the best. It comes with incredible 3-row seating for eight people, amazing standard equipment, and the title of Edmund’s top-rated SUV for two years in a row, and it also looks and drives incredibly well. In this blog post, we are diving deep into the problems and reliability of the Telluride. Here is a quick recap!

The Telluride has problems with easily damaged windshields and sunroofs. Owners also report problems with poor-performing high-beam headlights. Engine-wise, the Telluride produces a squealing noise from the engine in low temperatures. Owners also report transmission problems and problems with excessive vehicle vibrations at high speeds.

In short, these are all the problems with the Telluride. If you are hungry for more details, all the recalls, and more, stay with us as we dig deeper into the problems of this midsize SUV from Kia.

1. A Surprising Amount Of Owners Report Having Broken Windshields

We are starting this blog with a problem you don’t encounter daily. The most commonly reported issue of the Kia Telluride is the windshield. Yes, the windshields on the Telluride are of poor quality, resulting in multiple cracks, even in short periods of time. There are more than 100 complaints on NHTS regarding the windshields, and the one quoted below is just an example of the problems:

“3 cracks from separate small rock incidents in one week period on the front windshield. Never had a crack on any of my cars in 10 years and in a week I got 3 different ones at different times with the Telluride.”

NHTSA Complaint ID Number: 11435245

This affects all the model years, as is evident in the NHTSA complaint reports. While this does not seem like a big deal while the car is serviced under warranty, keep in mind that as the car ages and comes out of warranty, windshields replacements can cost anywhere from 700-1300$. Not to mention the safety hazard and how time-consuming it can be to deal with such issues.

2. Excessive Vibration At High Speeds

Kia has had a fair amount of experience manufacturing reliable SUVs and their power trains. However, several owners report excessive vibration at highway speeds (50-75 mph). The owner quoted below has reported this exact problem, as did many other Telluride owners.

Vibration is felt in the steering wheel, gas pedal and in the seat from the power train from highway speeds ranging from 60mph to 80mph with a humming noise being heard from the interior at the same speeds.

NHTSA Complaint ID Number: 11309545

There was no recall from Kia. However, NHTSA reports suggest (ID number 11251985) that the part at fault is the rear drive shaft. This owner urged Kia to replace the drive shaft after the service center discovered that no other power train part was at fault for the excessive vibration.

3. Delayed Engagement And Slipping Of The Transmission

Having a transmission slip between gear changes is something one would expect from a vehicle with at least 150,000 miles or more. However, NHTSA complaints suggest that the transmission of the Telluride is supposedly slipping out of Drive and into Neutral on its own.

One of the NHTSA complaints (ID numbers 11301205 and 11453034) described how his transmission slipped out of Drive and into Neutral as the driver entered an interstate. The RPMs of the engine immediately increased without any power delivery. After safely stopping and rebooting the car’s electronics, the car continued to operate normally. This was not an isolated case.

Additionally, several owners filed complaints that their transmission tends to overthink and delay the engagements of certain gears, which leads to the unnecessary revving of the engine and unreasonable downshifts. Such complaints can be found under NHTSA ID numbers 11425571 and 11354498.

4. Cold Start Engine Squealing

Apart from some isolated cases of severe engine problems, the Telluride is primarily free from engine issues. One issue that worries many people is the high-pitched squeaking during the cold. One of the NHTSA complaints (ID number 11450915) reports:

When starting in the cold (approx 30 degrees F or less), the Kia has a very high-pitched squeal. The sound appears to be coming from inside the engine and is NOT a pulley or slipping belt. There is a lot of discussion about this issue on the web, and Kia has not issued any resolution to any of the customers who have complained and taken it to dealers.

Numerous reports are similar to this one, and the issue is yet to be resolved. If you would like to hear the audio recordings, videos, and more, check this Telluride forum thread.

5. OEM Trailer Hitch Fire Hazard Recall

Beware if you are in the market for a Kia Telluride, and it comes with a genuine 4-pin tow hitch. Certain 2020-2022 model-year vehicles with this tow hitch were prone to short-circuiting, which could lead to a fire. The short-circuiting resulted from debris and moisture on the tow hitch harness module circuit board. This recall campaign has the NHTSA campaign number 22V626000 and the Kia recall number SC247.

If you are in the market for such a vehicle, ensure the recall service has been taken care of!

6. Sunroofs Tend To Explode Spontaneously

Yes, you’ve read that title correctly. This is not the first Kia with such problems (the 2011 Kia Sportage is guilty as well), but it seems there are even more reports of such instances on the Telluride.

An owner that filed a complaint under the NHTSA ID number 11469110 stated:

“I was driving over the Harbor Bridge in Corpus Christi, Texas, with my kids and nephew when suddenly my front sunroof exploded. “

Sadly, this is not an isolated case of such occurrences (check NHTSA complaint numbers 11458647, 11436039, and many more). There has been no response from Kia officials.

7. High-Beam Headlight Problems And Poor Functionality

While the Telluride is free from major mechanical issues, it is certainly not free from more minor issues that significantly impact the occupants’ safety. The widely spread problem with high-beam headlights is yet to be resolved, and many owners are fed up with Kia’s ignorance on this matter.

At the core of this problem is the poor illumination of the road that the headlights provide at night. Many owners have filed NHTSA complaints (ID number 11443178, for example), and many have stated that they fear driving at night due to the poor performance of the headlights.

The problem, however, is not only that the headlights are not bright enough, but the light beam from the high-beam headlights also covers a narrow field of view. That is why owners also complain that there is little to no road visibility when driving up or downhill and into turns at night.

Kia has yet to respond to these complaints; judging by the nature of the situation; we are led to believe this is a design fault of the Telluride and not something Kia can quickly fix with a recall.

8. Forward Collision-Avoidance Problems

Based on its name, the forward collision avoidance (FCA) system should prevent collisions. However, based on an NHTSA owner’s complaint (ID number 11485486), consecutive FCA issues eventually led to an accident. According to this complaint, the FCA would randomly engage the brakes, thinking it would come into contact with a vehicle that was not present.

Further research revealed that these problems with the FCA are much more common than first anticipated. We encountered more than ten owners’ complaints similar to the one described above. As of 2022, no real solution to these problems has been presented by Kia. Certain owners did have problems with FCA sensors, while others visited their service centers without much luck, and the problems continued.

9. Various Electrical Issues

Apart from the instrument cluster issues in the 2022 model year, the Telluride suffers from occasional electrical problems with the side windows, blind spot collision warning system, and door locks. Two NHTSA complaints report side windows that do not want to close while the car is in motion and the same amount of complaints about the blind spot collision warning system that malfunctions in the rain.

Three reports also reveal problems with the door and boot locks, which happens to engage independently. Overall, these problems are not overly common, but they are reason enough to be cautious if you are in the market for a Kia Telluride.

Instrument Cluster And Speedometer Problems 

Several owners report problems with the instrument cluster and the digital speedometer. The instrument cluster goes blank and does not work while driving, leaving the driver without crucial information. A simple reboot of the system usually resolves the issue but not indefinitely.

In other cases (described in the NHTSA complaint ID number 11475944), the instrument cluster simply malfunctions and displays the wrong values. According to this complaint, the instrument cluster goes blank, displays the “Data error” message, and the speedometer and the fuel gauge stop working.

Luckily enough, Kia admitted this fault for the 2022 model year vehicles and issued a recall (NHTSA campaign number 22V344000 

and KIA recall number SC237). According to Kia, excess adhesive on the circuit board within the instrument cluster is the reason behind these issues.

Also read: Types Of Gas A Kia Telluride Takes (Explained)

10. Other Recalls

Incorrect Spare Tire On 2022 Model Year Tellurides

Certain 2022 model-year Tellurides came equipped with a spare tire that was not of the correct dimensions. This led to several issues; it impaired the functionality of the ABS brake system and the traction control system. 

Seat Belt Problems On The 2020 Model Year

If you are buying a 2020 Telluride to safely accommodate your kids, ensure that the Kia recall SC181 has been taken care of. This recall mentioned that the child restraint system did not tightly secure children during a crash. Kia replaced all the necessary seat belt assemblies in the front, second, and third-row seats. 

Air Bag System Does Not Detect Children

Another recall revolving around child safety addressed the Occupant Classification and Detection System (OCS/ODS) in some 2021 model year; Tellurides did not detect the presence of a child restraint system in the front passenger seat.

If the system did not detect the presence of a child, it could deploy the airbags in the event of a crash which significantly increases the chances of injury. This recall was filed under Kia recall number SC207 and NHTSA ID number 21V164000.


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