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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey Everyone, we're in the US. I've been a lurker since we bought our 2019 Kia Niro EX HEV (Hybrid) with tech package, brand new on November 23, 2019. Now that the car is inoperable I've become a poster.

Our Niro has 13,750 miles now, and we've loved it until about 8 weeks ago. That's when it wouldn't start for the first time. We learned about the battery reset button and all was well...until it happened again about a week later. It's now happened six times in two months.

One week ago my wife reported "it doesn't want to go", meaning there was a severe lack of engine power. Two days later it refused to recognize reverse gear. I put it in reverse and floored the gas pedal – nothing. No response at all. The engine failure light is on.

It's at the dealer now. He says he'll contact us some time later this week.

How does this happen to a brand-new car, lightly used (99.9 % in the city) with under 14,000 miles? I've owned cars for 50 years, and this is without a doubt the most exasperating experience ever. Next time I'll think twice before trying an automotive brand I've never used before.
 

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I wouldn't worry. Since it sounds like a repeatable problem the dealer will have no problem fixing it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
charlesH, thank you for the support! I keep telling myself that these things happen, and all will be well soon; but I also think that I have two top priorities in a car: safety and reliability. We feel very safe in our Niro because of the tech package, but we're not safe at all if the car is unreliable. We specifically went for a brand-new car to get one as reliable as possible – and ended up learning we bought the opposite.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
After four days, the dealer is now stonewalling. "Your technician isn't in today; we can't tell you anything about your car."
Time to call the KIA Consumer Assistance Center. We're hoping they'll help; so far we've received NO assistance or info at all from the dealer. We're supposed to be given a rental car - that hasn't happened either.
 

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it sounds an awful lot like the main fuse is blown. The biggest problem with the Kia Niro is not the actual car itself, but the dealer network and how they are steadfast refusing to move into the 21'st century of auto mobile that will be electric based. The hybrid is half the step there. My guess is that they think if they give sub par service then people will equate that to electric is unreliable and therefor stick with ICE powered vehicles.

Ive had a couple of check engine lights that have hit my car. But I have the lucky side of a really good dealership who actually stands behind their vehicle. Both times they have gone well beyond what one would expect and given the best service you can imagine. I can accept that cars can break down. I can't accept if the dealership doesn't look after you if it happens.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited)
Roadkill401, I hear you. The dealer connection should be of paramount importance to the manufacturer, because the dealer is the link between the product and the public.
Everyone we've spoken with at our dealer has been aggressive and condescending. When my wife called the dealer today she was told they hadn't had enough time to look at the car yet. When she asked how long it takes to plug in an ODBII and read the codes, the phone rep started reading to her: "Dear...customer...we...are..so..sorry...that...you...are...upset..." My wife interrupted and said "I just want to know what's wrong with my car"; the rep then began reading word-for-word the complaint we dictated when we brought it in: "Multiple use of battery reset button, won't move in Reverse gear..." My wife stopped her and said she's going to call the KIA US nationwide Customer Service rep, and was then told we'll have the car back tomorrow.
When we had the car towed in, there were about 5 or 6 other customers in the service area. Every one of them was upset and complaining, and each of their service reps was spouting inane and implausible excuses. It was laughable until it happened to us. For example, our rep told is it's OK that we have to use the battery reset button a lot, because the battery isn't really dead, just temporarily disconnected. I replied that I'm aware of how the 12-volt battery works; and pointed out that there was no problem for the first 16 months we owned the car, and also that we've had to use the reset button 6 times in the last 2 months. When I added that that's an indication of a power drain that wasn't happening during the first 16 months of ownership and is now an issue, he changed the subject.
Since we were at 14,000 miles we decided to get the 15,000 mile service done while the car is there. My wife had a coupon, issued by the dealer, for $30 off the cost of the oil change for our new car's 15,000 mile service. She pulled out the coupon and our service rep said "Oh, that only covers fossil oil, not synthetic." I said "Don't all new KIAs require synthetic oil?" The rep told me" Oh, no not at all." I said "Which KIAs don't?" He said "Some of the Fortes don't." I Googled KIA Forte oil, and confirmed that every new KIA Forte requires synthetic oil. I told that to the service rep and he claimed that's a lie, there are some new Fortes that require fossil oil. I asked why we were sent a coupon for oil we can't use, and he changed the subject again. In my opinion this is Scam City.
My Dad was in the auto industry for 40 years and I grew up around many dealerships. I've never seen a dealer at odds with its customers the way this one is; and that makes me angry at KIA for allowing this to happen. We live in Los Angeles, the dealership is huge, and everyone there has a nasty attitude.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
We got our Niro back yesterday at 6 PM – it took 4 1/2 days. They told us "there was a loose connection near the transmission, from the factory." So far, the car seems back to normal – a huge relief. We LOVE our Niro!

But this dealer...the worst ever. Seems they have a policy that no one can talk to the customer about their car other than the service rep who took the initial report. So if that rep decides to take a day off (as our rep did on Monday) the customer is out of luck until the rep returns. My wife was so incensed, especially when they kept her on hold for over ONE HOUR yesterday, then shunted her to voicemail. During the 4 1/2 days, none of her voicemails was ever returned.

Needless to say, we won't be going back to this dealer for service in the future.

-----

Here are portions of comments about our dealer from six different reviewers at Cars.com – there are many more in the same vein:

"Expect to walk out in worse shape than when you walk in, you may walk in optimistically but you will walk out agitated and demeaned. I caution anyone considering using this dealership for service."

"Dishonest."

"...the people who work here are hustlers."

"AVOID THIS PLACE AT ALL COST. TOTAL SCAM. UNETHICAL TERRIBLE CUSTOMER SERVICE This is the worse service I have received in getting a car."

"Horrible mistake shopping Kia at **** Kia. I would not go back even if my maintenance was free. What a scam."

"Worst buying experience."
 

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What's the name of these scumbags ? So far I've been pretty happy with our dealer but We've only had a check engine light issue . I live in Canada so I can't really say if that makes a difference, although I've heard of some pretty shady tactics used here too , not at Kia but at mostly used car dealers .
 

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Don't let the dealer push you around. Instead of waiting on the phone you should have drove over to talk to the general manager in the showroom in a raised but calm voice. That will get things taken care of. No dealer wants somebody mad at their service dept. in the showroom.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 · (Edited)
The issue was fixed for two weeks; now the car won't go into reverse again. My wife is stranded, and we're gonna dump the Niro ASAP. Most unreliable vehicle I've ever owned, and Kia customer service is apparently non-existent at all levels, from the dealers to the nationwide hotline. Unacceptable.
 

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The issue was fixed for two weeks; now the car won't go into reverse again. My wife is stranded, and we're gonna dump the Niro ASAP. Most unreliable vehicle I've ever owned, and Kia customer service is apparently non-existent at all levels, from the dealers to the nationwide hotline. Unacceptable.
Sorry about your problems. I understand your frustration. I recently had a problem with my Sedona and my local Kia dealer (who I thought was good) let me down big time. It's problems like this and dealers like this who will prevent Kia from becoming another Toyota.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Sorry about your problems. I understand your frustration. I recently had a problem with my Sedona and my local Kia dealer (who I thought was good) let me down big time. It's problems like this and dealers like this who will prevent Kia from becoming another Toyota.
I fully agree. Because of horrible customer service our opinion of Kia has done a complete 180. For 18 months we've been singing the praises of our new Niro; we're now telling everyone we were wrong, and advising everyone to avoid Kia products. A brand-new vehicle that doesn't run and can't be fixed is beyond the pale; a national Kia help line staffed by unhelpful, uneducated folks is worse. We're both in our late 60s and have been married almost 50 years; this is by far the worst customer service we've ever experienced with any product. Our $30,000 car has 15,000 miles, won't run/drive, and Kia doesn't care at all. Trying to remain calm here...
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
The dealer has now had the car for 11 days (this is our second go-around with this problem), and claims "we can't figure out what's wrong."
Did we buy a lemon?
 

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First of all I would not trash an entire brand over one owner's experience with their car. It's not like this is a known issue with the car.

Unfortunately these things happen. You can pick any make and model of any car and find examples like this. Kia has a well earned reputation for excellent reliability. But that not mean Kias never break. And while there's a wide variability in Kia dealer quality, I recall seeing a JD Power survey that rated Kia dealers near the bottom for both sales and service. That's a problem Kia definitely needs to address.

Sounds like it's very clear much of your issue is with the dealer, not Kia. I would definitely try to enlist the help of your salesperson and the dealership GM too. Make sure they understand in detail what you have experienced. Although it takes more effort, sometimes it's helpful to put it in writing. What is your dealer's policy with loaner cars for service customers?

What's most troubling is the apparent lack of action when you called Kia directly. Can you elaborate on what the response was? Again, I would take the time to put a blow by blow complaint in writing so they can't claim they did not understand the severity of what you have endured. When my brother in law was having trouble getting his Telluride repaired, he was able to get the email address of one of Kia USA's executives, and they had the dealership Service Manager on the phone with him the same day, and the car was fixed correctly and permanently within 48 hours.

I'm curious why you won't identify the dealer. At this point you definitely want to put some heat on them, and please help some of your fellow forum members to steer clear of their obviously incompetent service department.

All that being said, you of course have every right to be absolutely angry about what's happened. I definitely would be too. The fact Kia has a good reputation for reliability is of little consequence to you at this point.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
I understand that cars can break – the same as everything in existence, including people. When something created by a man breaks, a man should be able to fix it.

I can't understand why our car CAN'T be fixed; why the dealer won't even call us; why when we call them we get the run-around and double talk; and most of all: why are we persona non grata after paying $30,000 in cash for our new Niro? Over the course of two weeks it went from "Oh, no problem at all, just a loose connection" to "We can't find the problem".

This isn't our first rodeo; we've been married for over 45 years and have owned many cars. My father worked for General Motors for 35 years and I grew up around dealerships. (GM gave my Dad a free brand-new car every year for the last 17 years of his career.)

My wife called the national KIA hotline and ended up spending one hour on hold. When the girl came back on the phone she told my wife there's nothing she can do.

I haven't identified the dealer because:

1) I'm active on many online forums, many of them auto-related, and most of them will delete a post if it gets too specific, such as by naming names or "complaining too much". I'm unsure of the rules on this forum.

2) This dealer has no integrity and no shame. They may be aware of this forum; if they decide to retaliate against us for my posts, our situation could get even worse.

One factor in our favor is that we live in California and our state has a strict automobile "lemon law". We're looking into how that would work.

My wife has full documentation of everything and has sent it to the KIA national service center. No response yet; we'll see if they offer any more help than the last time she contacted them.

We sure wish that we had a way to get the email address of one of Kia USA's executives, have the dealership Service Manager get on the phone with us the same day, and have our car fixed correctly and permanently within 48 hours!!! Even longer would be OK, if someone would just keep us informed...the problem now is that, 12 days after our second trip to dealer, the dealer can't even find the problem. No forward progress has been made at all.

And yes, absolutely angry is how we both feel as we continue to deal with this on a daily basis. I appreciate your empathy. Thanks for writing!
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
After a second visit to the dealer, this time for 27 days, we got our 2019 Niro back yesterday, July 21. It was there for 5 days the first time, so we're now at a total of 32 days. We live in California which has a strong lemon law; it kicks in at 30 days, so we could potentially seek recourse. Even though the car is fixed for now, we're not very happy campers, and don't feel confident or safe when we drive the vehicle.

Dealer paperwork says "actuator assembly gear" needed to be replaced, which evidently refers to the dual clutch mechanism. Search this forum to see how many others have issues with this; there are quite a few, many of whom successfully invoked their (US) state's Lemon Law. One forum user has even suffered through TWO KIA Niro lemons with the same issues! Considering the number of complaints, this is obviously a serious design flaw. Caveat emptor – buyer beware!

So far (less than 24 hours) the car runs fine; but it also ran fine the last time the dealer gave it back. We'll see what develops.

We used to love the Niro for its design and safety features; if we'd known there was a serious design flaw we'd have never considered it. For this reason we'll never buy another KIA in our lifetimes, and will be very proactive in warning others to stay away from all KIA products.

The dealer put over 600 miles on the car while it was there. In addition, our dash cam has been disabled, possibly damaged, and its internal settings have been changed – but not to the default values (which might happen if it was completely powered down for weeks), so someone has messed with it. It now only turns on when connected to my computer; not when it's in the car.
 

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600 miles by dealer? There is no legitimate service need to spend 20 hours or so driving your car.

You can deal with branding however you like, and many will give a manufacturer only one shot for perfection. So far in my 48 years of driving, I have never owned the same brand twice but but they were all good to great cars - I just got the right model for me at the time. I don't think the Niro is a lemon, and in fact perhaps most serious complaints that I read either on Niro or Ioniq (same drivetrain) forums are from purchasers of used cars in the last 18 months. Certainly no brand/model is perfect and no one's expectations should be set so high, and the Niro has had certain issues with multiple posters. As a brand, Kia is one of the most reliable (at least for the research I did in 2018 when I purchased it).

My biggest problem so far is a rattle that they been unable to solve for a year. Some of that was my procrastination about such a minor yet annoying problem - and lack of driving during the pandemic, a lot was parts delay. But I apparently have a good dealer willing to go the extra mile - in fact while they are checking out the rattle again, I'm getting a free detail (my first ever).
 
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