Which Kia Soul Years to Avoid and Why? (Explained)

Kia has been making great SUVs and the Soul is a good subcompact one. It features a lot of new technologies and an intuitive infotainment system. This vehicle’s interior is spacious and pleasant, but it lacks the high-quality materials seen in competitors’ more expensive models. 

It also has a decent engine with an easy maintenance system. The steering is smooth and the SUV handling is comparatively simple. 

But some years of Kia Soul are really bad if you want to buy a used Soul. In this article, I will tell you about those years.

Kia Soul Years to Avoid (List of Years)

The worst years of Kia Soul have various kinds of problems. Here is the list of those years that you should avoid buying.

  • 2011 Kia Soul
  • 2012 Kia Soul
  • 2013 Kia Soul
  • 2014 Kia Soul
  • 2015 Kia Soul
  • 2016 Kia Soul
  • 2020 Kia Soul

Engine problem and electric issues are very common in these four years (2011-2014) of Kia Soul. They also showed brake malfunction along with transmission and gear problems.

Kia Soul 2015 and 2016 has electric problems and also engine issues. Faulty AC is another problem reported on these models. But the 2020 Soul has transmission and painting problems.

Worst Years of Kia Soul

The 2016 model of Kia Soul is the worst model. Carcomplaints showed that it has most of the complaints about the engine going bad. And the severity and the frequency of this problems is quite high which makes it the worst model of Optima.

What Makes These Kia Soul Years Worth Avoiding?

If you are wondering about the main reasons why you need to avoid these Kia Soul years, here are the details of the problems of each model.

2011 Kia Soul Problems:

Kia Soul 2011 is relatively old than many newer options. Which is one of the main reasons for avoiding it as it won’t give you many advanced features.

There are also some engine issues that cannot be ignored. One of the most prevalent complaints is that the engine has malfunctioned and stopped working. A leaky oil pan or a faulty oil pump is blamed for this. Manifold gaskets and thermostats that failed have been reported by owners.

Not many reports were made on the brake and electric issues. But you should know that there is a potential problem that can be caused by these issues.

There are better options in the same range which have fewer problems and better features. Thus, it is better to avoid the 2011 model.

2012 Kia Soul Problems:

The Kia Soul witnessed a considerable increase in complaints during the 2012 model year. This SUV received 408 complaints about in-car complain space. Recall notifications were issued twice. For the next several years, Kia had a steady stream of engine issues.

The first major problem of Kia Soul 2012 is the steering problem. A banging sound may be heard and felt while moving the steering wheel, according to several SUV owners. It is not uncommon for the steering wheel to exhibit excessive movement or sloppiness while being turned. 

The next main problem is the engine system malfunction. Engine failing during the drives is a common problem of this SUV. Acceleration not working or hesitating while the acceleration is also reported by many people.

Not but least, there are a few transmission problems reported in the forum and car complain platform. Drivers faced transmission shifting hard which was dangerous in certain situations.

For safety reasons and high repairing costs, this model should be avoided.

2013 Kia Soul Problems:

Kia Soul 2013 is a very bad SUV considering the engine issues reported by most of the users. Engine failure is very common in this model the main complaint about the engine is this problem. There is also ticking noise coming from the engine. The engine idles roughing is quite annoying as people have reported.

The second most common complaint regarding the 2013 Kia Soul was electrical system difficulties. Battery, wire plastic coating was found bad. Also, the brake light and pressure warning lights were all involved in the majority of these malfunctions.

Other than these two main problems, some reports were about the steering and the brake. 

2014 Kia Soul Problems:

Kia Soul has been having lots of engine problems and the 2014 Kia Soul is no exception to this trend of engine troubles. When driving, you could hear banging coming from the engine.

In some cases, the engine blew from driving only a few miles in total. The engine was also reported to lose power during driving.

The electrical system was also unreliable. The battery, the wiring, and the light were bad in this SUV as the users reported. Some reported that the steering getting locked and not moving at all. 

Having all these problems the 2014 Soul is a bad choice for buying.

2015 Kia Soul Problems:

Engine problems did not let go of the Soul series. It kept haunting the Kia Soul for many years now. But it was disappointing that Kia did not take it seriously. 

Most of the cases found in this series were related to engine issues including engine failure, oil loss, engine shut down while driving, engine lights coming out unnecessarily, etc. These problems may cost you a lot to repair and the maintenance will get expensive for this SUV. The average repair cost is 4,600 bucks.

The AC of this SUV is also faulty. It stopped working very early for many people and they needed to fix it. Another significant issue was related to the electric system failure.

2016 Kia Soul Problems:

Kia Soul 2016 is yet another SUV with several engine problems. 244 complaints were submitted by users on the bad engine. The majority of engine problems were engine blown, engine knocking, engine shut down while driving, etc. 

There were about 30 reports saying the electric system is failing for them. Starting issues, a fire caused by an electric system short circuit, etc. were the most common problems. Catalytic Converter plugged up/burnt out was mentioned by some drivers. 

2020 Kia Soul Problems:

Kia has had some good years till the 2020 model came out. It had many minor and major problems which were quite problematic for the users. 

They experienced high repair costs to deal with transmission difficulties on this model. Unpredictable RPM spikes or shifting issues would occur if the system failed.

In addition, the 2020 Kia Soul suffered from certain engine issues. The engine was said to have abruptly shut off. It’s also well-known that this particular model uses a lot of oil. The body painting of this model is also bad due to prematurely fading or wearing off.

Which Years Kia Soul are Safe to Buy?

There are some great years of Kia Soul as well. Here are some of them-

2022 Kia Soul:

Kia Soul 2022 is a great buy for people who like new models and great features with enough room for the whole family. It can run on rough terrain and the driving is quite smooth. It has accurate steering with enjoyable riding. You will not feel bad driving this car for hours, making it a great long-drive vehicle. It also comes with a decent four-cylinder-based engine. It features a trouble-free smartphone integration. Overall, this is a great option for you.

2021 Kia Soul:

Kia Soul 2021’s ride and handling are excellent, especially on rough roads. Also, when challenged, the Soul maintains remarkable levels of physical control. In terms of performance, the standard 147-hp 2.0-liter I-4 is more than enough and never seems underpowered.

The interior and the exterior both are made of top-tier materials. There are almost no complaints about this SUV. It is recommended vehicle for you.


Kia Soul is an exceptional SUV for family purposes or a small group of people. It has ample space for taking lots of things in the car.

If you consider the perks of this SUV and ignore the sportiness, then the Soul series is for you. Just remember to avoid the worst years of this series.

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