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Kia Sorento Transmissions: Overview, Problems, Fluids

Kia Sorento Transmissions: Overview, Problems, Fluids

Kia Sorento is a popular mid-size crossover SUV that offers three rows of seats. It is a popular vehicle among family owners. The car has spawned over four generations and has produced several models with varying specifications. These models have been equipped with different types of transmissions. This article entails a detailed analysis of all the transmissions used in Kia Sorento and their problems, comparison, longevity, and cost.

The first-gen of Kia Sorento has a 4-speed automatic (A340E), 5-speed manual, and 4-speed manual transmissions. The second-gen has 5-speed automatic (RE5R05A, A5SR1), 5-speed manual, 6-speed automatic (A6LF2), and 6-speed manual transmissions. The third-gen boasted 6-speed automatic, 6-speed manual, and 8-speed automatic transmissions. The fourth-gen has 6-speed automatic, 6-speed automatic, and 8-speed SmartstreamDCT transmissions.

The transmission plays a significant role in the functioning, drive, and longevity of any car. If you plan to buy a Kia Sorento, you should have complete information about its transmission system. What transmission fluid should you use in your Kia Sorento, how much will it cost, the difference among different transmission models, and what problems can you expect in such transmissions? Knowing these things can come in handy for a Sorento owner. Give this detailed article a read to learn all you need to know about transmissions used in Kia Sorento.

What Transmission Has the Kia Sorento Used?

First Generation (1996-2001)

  • 5-speed manual
  • S-speed automatic
  • 4-speed A340E automatic

Second Generation (2001-06)

  • 5-speed manual
  • 5-speed A5SR1 automatic
  • 5-speed RE5R05A automatic
  • 6-speed Automatic
  • 6-speed manual

Third Generation (2006-2011)

  • 6-speed manual
  • 6-speed A6LF2 automatic
  • 8-speed automatic

Fourth Generation (2011-2017)

  • 6-speed automatic
  • 8-speed automatic
  • 8-speed SmartstreamDCT

How Long Does a Kia Sorento Transmission Last?

Like other vehicles under the belt of Kia, Kia Sorento’s transmission lasts for a long time. Typically, well-maintained transmissions of Kia Sorentos will last for about 150k-200k miles. For an average car owner, this mileage will last for about 12-15 years. This means that if you’ve put in a bit of effort in maintaining the transmission, you won’t have to worry about a transmission change during the lifespan of your Kia Sorento.

How much does a Kia Sorento transmission cost?

Kia Sorento has seen several different transmissions across its four generations. The prices of these transmissions are thus not constant and vary accordingly. Since there are several models of Kia Sorento, it can be challenging to find the replacement cost of the transmission that your particular model uses. That is why we’ve created the following table for you. After going through the websites of several online retailers, here are the prices* of the Kia Sorento transmission we found.

4-speed A340E automatic$1799
5-speed A5SR1 automatic$2411
5-speed RE5R05A automatic$3741
6-speed A6LF2 automatic$2429
8-speed SmartstreamDCT$3760

*These prices do not include labor costs. For more information, visit Auto Zone.

Common Kia Sorento Transmission Problems

First-gen transmission problems

  • Kia Sorento produces a clunk noise followed by a little jolt. When the car is shifted to drive, it does not take up power. This problem is usually associated with a faulty transmission, or it might also be caused when you change gears abruptly.
  • Sorento accelerating quickly while starting; usually accompanied by a jolt. This problem is reported by users of the 2005 Kia Sorento, and it is due to issues with the sensor connections.
  • Transmission hesitation and slipping. If you own the 2005-06 models of Kia Sorento, then this problem might be due to a design fault in the car’s transmission. The cause of this transmission hesitation is an electric interference picked up by an unshielded wire.

2nd Gen Transmission Problems

  • Transmission losing speed when users change lanes. If this happens during extreme weather, the most likely culprit behind this problem is a faulty fluid temperature sensor. This sensor needs to be changed to solve this problem.
  • Kia recalled 2011-13 models of Kia Sorento because of gear shift problems. The problem allowed the transmission to shift out of ‘Park’ without the brakes being pressed.

3rd Gen Transmission Problems

  • Large grinding noise coming from the 2016 Kia Sorento, especially when gears are shifted. This problem indicates a lack of transmission fluid in your car, and you need to refill the transmission fluid as soon as possible to get rid of this problem.
  • Transmission fluid leak is another problem that signals that your transmission needs a complete flush service.
  • Delayed transmission shifting. This problem is usually caused by poor quality transmission fluid. Use Kia-approved transmission fluid for your car to remove this issue.

4th Gen Transmission Problems

  • Erratic transmission shifting when the car is cold. This problem is either related to faulty transmission, or it might be due to some software problems. Take your Kia Sorento to a dealership so that they can reprogram the transmission module.
  • Powertrain malfunctions. This problem is caused due to oil leakage and abnormal noise while driving. Ensure that there are no transmission or oil leaks in your car and you will be good to go.
  • Malfunctioning of the electrical system leads to faults in the transmission sensors.

Difference between Kia Sorento Transmissions

Here is a table that enlists the significant differences between the main transmissions used across different generations of a Kia Sorento.

ModelDrive-trainMaximum Engine TorqueGross Vehicle Weight
4-speed A340E automaticAWD294 Nm2560 kg
5-speed A5SR1 automaticAWD392 Nm2590 kg
6-speed A6LF2 automaticAWD241 Nm2510 kg
8-speed SmartstreamDCTFWD440 Nm2510 kg

Transmission Fluids and the Kia Sorento

Using the correct type of transmission fluid will relieve you of several troubles. Low-quality or incorrect transmission fluids or even the wrong type of gas can severely damage the transmission of your car.

The 2005 Kia Sorento uses DexronViATF Transmission fluid. For the 2016 model, it is better to go with the Castrol Transmax ATF Full Synthetic. The 2020 model uses ATF SP IV as its primary Automatic Transmission Fluid.

Closing Thoughts

Transmissions are a cornerstone of any vehicle’s performance, and the Kia Sorento is no exception. Across its four generations, this family-favorite SUV has seen a variety of transmission types, each with its own sets of pros and cons. From the first-gen’s basic 4-speed options to the fourth-gen’s more sophisticated 8-speed Smartstream DCT, the evolution of Sorento’s transmissions mirrors the car’s overall growth. Whether you’re a current owner or in the market for a Kia Sorento, understanding the nuances of its transmission can make all the difference in your ownership experience. This article has aimed to provide a comprehensive guide on that front, covering everything from fluid types to costs and potential issues. Armed with this knowledge, you’re better prepared to make the most of your Sorento experience.


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