"Whirring, draining" sound under charging port - Kia Niro Forum
LinkBack Thread Tools
post #1 of 6 (permalink) Old 04-14-2019, 09:00 PM Thread Starter
Junior Member
Join Date: Apr 2019
Posts: 2
Question "Whirring, draining" sound under charging port

I bought a 2018 Kia Plug-in last August and have enjoyed it very much. Over the past several weeks, though, I've started to hear a medium to low-frequency humming/whirring sound coming from the area behind the charging port on the left side of the vehicle. Up until now, I've become familiar with the various noises and sounds emitted from my Niro, from the heat pump to the quiet, purring "hum" sound when the car is in EV mode. This sound is a new, distinctive, and only started recently. It's an electric whirring sound that comes on at various, random points when I drive and/or park the car. The sound also starts from a medium pitch sound and then slowly goes down in pitch to a lower sound maybe after 5-7 minutes (hence why I describe it as a "draining" sound"). Teh sound will then stp on its own or when I turn off the car. The sounds does not run after the ignition is off.

Is anyone experiencing something similar? Any thoughts on what it could be?

Thank you for your assistance.
harkla44 is offline  
Sponsored Links
post #2 of 6 (permalink) Old 04-14-2019, 10:35 PM
Senior Member
Join Date: Oct 2018
Location: Murrieta, CA
Posts: 340
What part of the world are you driving in? I purchased my PHEV last October, so haven't yet had a chance to experience how it behaves in the extreme heat of a Southern California summer. I do occasionally hear a sound coming from somewhere under the hood, maybe on the left side, that could be described as a humming/whirring sound, but I only hear it when the car is stopped. For example, I drove the car a couple of miles yesterday on a fully charged battery, did not plug it in last night, and then in the middle of the day today, I opened the drivers door to throw something in to the passenger's seat so it would be there later when I wanted it, and I hear a humming/whirring sound when I opened the driver's door. That only happens maybe 10% of the time that I open the door, and I'm not sure what it is about. I've never heard that sound when I was actually driving the car though, and apparently I"m pretty astute about car sounds, because I tend to notice that I pick up on sounds that other people in the car totally ignore.

Not sure if this applies to all packages, but in my EX Premium there's an app on the head unit that can run a self diagnostic. The car has to be electrically on when you run it. I still haven't figured out if it is actually potentially useful or not, but you might try to run it and see if it comes up with anything.

2018 Niro PHEV Gravity Blue
deltasmith is online now  
post #3 of 6 (permalink) Old 04-15-2019, 12:34 AM Thread Starter
Junior Member
Join Date: Apr 2019
Posts: 2
Thanks so much deltasmith. I live in Los Angeles, so I have dealt with the heat (as well as the recent winter rains). Like you, I pick up on unusual sounds; hence why this particular sound caught my attention. I drive an EX level, but I'll see if there us the same app to run a self-diagnostic. Thank you.
harkla44 is offline  
post #4 of 6 (permalink) Old 04-18-2019, 09:44 PM
Junior Member
doro6529's Avatar
Join Date: Mar 2019
Posts: 24
I too have been hearing a sound such as you describe. I've heard it from new and possibly during test drives. I always assumed it was a vacuum pump 'filling up' the reservoir. The on/off of the ICE and the nature of the Atkinson cycle to boot, leaves the vehicle without a consistent dependable source of vacuum. Diesels, HEV's, PHEV'S and EV's, if they have vacuum assisted brakes then I would assume they have a pump.

Last edited by doro6529; 04-18-2019 at 09:48 PM.
doro6529 is offline  
post #5 of 6 (permalink) Old 04-19-2019, 08:29 AM
Sstr Maria's Avatar
Join Date: Jun 2018
Posts: 49
I've been hearing it too. In my case, only a couple of seconds when I plug in the charging cable. I presume it has something to do with that.

Sstr Maria is offline  
post #6 of 6 (permalink) Old 05-07-2019, 10:38 PM
Senior Member
Join Date: Oct 2018
Location: Murrieta, CA
Posts: 340
I finally discovered the cause of the sound that I was trying to describe in post 2. And as the OP described, it does originate from the left side of the car, between the charging port and the windshield (in other words, from in front of the driver, probably comes from the other side in countries that have right-side-drive cars).

The Niro has an electric motor that drives a hydraulic pump that pressurizes the brake lines. If you want to hear what it sounds like: park in a quiet place, probably a good idea to put the driver's window down, turn the car off, and then pump the brakes a few times. I didn't hear anything at first. Along about the fourth or fifth time I pressed the brake pedal, I put my ear near the open window, and then I could hear the sound that I'd previously noticed on occasion from outside the car. I wish I'd paid enough attention to think about whether I was hearing it when I pressed the brake or when I released it, but I didn't, so if you try this, maybe you'll focus on that question and update this thread with your observation.

harkla44, I have the impression that this pump runs frequently while driving (actually while braking), but since I've not noticed it while driving, even in EV mode (it's a very subtle sound in the cabin), if this is the same sound that you're hearing and it's highly noticeable to you while you're driving, then either my hearing is going bad or your pump is overly loud. If you conclude that your pump is overly loud, the first thing to do is check your brake fluid level (low brake fluid might cause the pump to be loud, but more importantly, might be a sign of an imminent safety hazard). The second thing to do might be to check out another Niro (perhaps on a dealer's lot) and pump the brakes and see if it seems as loud as your car or not. If you think your pump is louder than the average Niro, that could be an indication that the pump in your car is on the verge of failing, which could result in a very unsafe driving situation. I hope that's not your situation.

Reflecting back on my prior post, it now makes sense to me that I sometimes hear this sound when I open the driver's door. I'm assuming that opening the door "wakes up" the computer, the computer notices that the brake fluid pressure is low, and it turns on the pump on the assumption that I might be about to get in the car and put my foot on the brake in preparation to drive. But this begs the question about what causes the brake fluid pressure to sometimes get low when the car is off? I suspect that the answer is that there are several electrically controlled valves in the brake system that separate the high pressure side from the low pressure side: if any one of them isn't seated exactly perfectly and it allows even a few ml of fluid to weep past it over a period of several hours, this might be enough to lower the pressure to the point that the computer will want to start the pump the next time it wakes up. So long as it's intermittent and you're not actually seeing the brake fluid level drop in the reservoir, I don't think it's anything to be concerned about, but if I began hearing this sound every time I got in the car, I might question if maybe one of the valves wasn't working correctly and if so, maybe that indicated that my brakes weren't going to work as well as they should.

2018 Niro PHEV Gravity Blue

Last edited by deltasmith; 05-07-2019 at 10:41 PM.
deltasmith is online now  

Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
What's that humming sound? deltasmith Engine And Technical Discussions 9 05-03-2019 11:33 AM
Level 1 PHEV Charging Stops With No Faults JonPoli 2018+ Kia Niro EV Batteries And Charging 27 12-19-2018 02:46 PM
PHEV - charging "pauses" sometimes? cockedandglocked Electric Powertrain Discussion 1 11-02-2018 03:51 PM

Posting Rules  
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On

For the best viewing experience please update your browser to Google Chrome