Kia Sedona years to avoid — most common problems
Identify the Kia Sedona models you should steer clear of for a hassle-free ride.
Before the introduction of the Kia Carnival, the Sedona was one of the most reliable and practical minivans on the market. It was in production for two decades, and the successor car, Kia Carnival, is still referred to as the Sedona depending on the market.
For someone on the used car market, the Sedona makes a more than decent everyday ride, especially if you are looking to get the utmost usability and a large cargo area. Well, the only thing that could get in your way is to buy a problematic model year. That’s why our team wanted to give you a heads-up about Kia Sedona years to avoid, based on drivers’ experience, customer reviews, and NHTSA reports.
Why you can trust REREV’s advice on which car model years to avoid: Our car experts look at official data, ask real drivers what they think, and talk to experienced mechanics to make sure our list is useful. This reliable info can make buying a car easier for you. Want to know how we do it? Find out more about our research methodology.
Most common Kia Sedona problems
Before we get into the main issues that Kia Sedona had as a model, it’s important to know that it’s overall a rather reliable car. It’s perfectly normal for a car that was in production for over 20 years to come with a few drawbacks. Still, it’s not something that would cause engine rebuilds or transmission failures, and that’s a good sign.
There were some performance-related issues with some Kia Sedona model years, but these were mostly related to the crankshaft position sensor. The failure of this sensor could lead to a jerking motion while driving and a sudden power loss, and replacing the sensor usually fixes the power supply.
Also, there were some issues with the peeling paint and rust for certain model years, as well as the door handles and hood latch. There were some major recalls regarding the automatic transmission shift lever position and electrical issues with the alternator and improperly tightened battery terminals.
Engine stalling and power loss
One of the most troublesome issues that you may experience with the Sedona is a sudden lack of acceleration and even engine stalling. As mentioned, it could be due to a bad crankshaft position sensor that measures the rotation of the crankshaft and submits information to the engine control unit.
If the information isn’t correct, the engine timing could be off, therefore leading to poor performance and power loss. Also, some drivers experienced odd startup noises or rough idling, and the problems seemed to be in the wrong oil level readings on the dashboard. Luckily, this issue was mostly caused by the failed sensor, instead of a true oil leak.
Paint and rust issues
While it’s not a major issue that could cause problems for drivers, the second-generation Kia Sedona had a few problems with the paint. It seems that the paint coat didn’t last very long, and there were some peeling issues and even rust forming on the hood and around the door area.
These issues were the most prominent for the 2005 and 2006 model year of Sedona. Of course, it doesn’t affect the driveability, but it could turn into a serious issue if the paint coat needs to be re-applied for aesthetics. Also, other issues about the car’s construction include a faulty hood latch that sometimes left the hood open even though drivers tried closing it, as well as faulty door handles.
Transmission column shift
One of the most prominent issues with the Sedona in several model years was the automatic transmission lever and linkage problem. It sometimes caused the shift lever to fall out of place, and the malfunctioning locking mechanism caused the shifter to fall out of the park mode and cause a rollaway risk.
There was an official recall regarding this issue and Kia managed to fix the problem on most of the 2016 model year Sedona vehicles.
Electrical and wiring issues
Finally, there were some electric issues that sometimes even caused seized A/C compressors and problems with the connections. One of the most prominent electric issues was the problem with a malfunctioning alternator that sometimes even represented a fire hazard.
Luckily, there was also a recall by Kia regarding these electric issues and poorly tightened battery terminal connections for the 2020 model.
Which Kia Sedona years to avoid?
The most serious problems with Kia Sedona vehicles included safety concerns such as a fire hazard issue and the faulty transmission column shift. However, these issues were mostly sorted out with the mentioned recalls and the rest of the problems are easily solved by replacing the faulty sensors and wiring harnesses.
Still, some model years are more problematic than others, so here’s how it all looks like depending on the Kia Sedona generation:
First-generation Kia Sedona (2002-2003 model years)
While the first production year of any model is often among the most problematic, the issues with first-generation Sedona only started in 2002. After the inception of the model in 1998, Kia didn’t face many driver complaints until the 2002 and 2003 models.
These two were quite problematic due to fire hazard concerns and poor engine performance caused by the malfunctioning sensors. On top of that, the first-generation Sedona mostly requires costly repairs to these issues, especially considering the dropping price of the model. So, it’s best to go with the 2004 model year, or the first few production years of the Sedona.
Second-generation Kia Sedona (2005-2006 and 2012 model years)
The second generation of Kia Sedona was overall reliable with only a few problematic model years from 2005 to 2013. Most notably, drivers have expressed worries about the fire hazard caused by the wires that spread under the driver’s seat.
On top of that, there were reported issues with the poor seatbelt assembly, and this one represented a major safety concern. Namely, seatbelts didn’t offer enough restraint power in case of a collision, causing a potentially dangerous situation. After the 2005 and 2006 model years, there was the 2012 model year with poor safety ratings from the NHTSA and poor electrical installations and wiring.
Third-generation Kia Sedona (2016 model year)
When it comes to the third generation of the popular minivan, there weren’t many reported issues except for the 2016 model year. This model year suffered from electrical issues the most, and some of these represented safety hazards while driving.
The headlight assembly was prone to failure and the blinker lights didn’t operate properly, which was a problem that’s difficult to notice if you are behind the steering wheel. There were also numerous recalls by Kia including the one for replacing the wiring harnesses for the occupant detection system, and turn signal malfunctions.
Fourth-generation Kia Sedona (2020 model year)
The fourth generation Kia Sedona started its production in 2020 as the Kia Carnival, but the car was still known as the Sedona on some markets. The starting production year had a fair share of issues that resulted in official recalls regarding poor battery connections and corroded battery terminals.
Best Kia Sedona model years
If serviced correctly, Kia Sedona is a minivan that will serve you great both for everyday driving and for situations that require a vehicle with a slightly higher load capacity. However, you can reduce the risk even more by avoiding the mentioned model years, and going with the recommended production years such as the following:
- 1998 Kia Sedona
- 1999 Kia Sedona
- 2000 Kia Sedona
- 2001 Kia Sedona
- 2004 Kia Sedona
- 2007 Kia Sedona
- 2008 Kia Sedona
- 2009 Kia Sedona
- 2010 Kia Sedona
- 2011 Kia Sedona
- 2013 Kia Sedona
- 2014 Kia Sedona
- 2015 Kia Sedona
- 2017 Kia Sedona
- 2018 Kia Sedona
- 2019 Kia Sedona
- 2021 Kia Sedona
- 2022 Kia Sedona
The first-generation Kia Sedona didn’t have many issues in the first four production years, so you won’t have to worry about the fire hazard and poor performance issues by going with a 1998 to 2001 model. The second generation was among the most reliable as long as you avoid the 2005 to 2006 model years, and problems with the safety hazards and wiring for the 2012 model have been solved through recalls later on.
For the same reasons, it’s best to go with the 2017 or 2018 model from the third generation and avoid the 2016 model year.
Is Kia Sedona worth buying?
If you are looking for the general answer, yes – Kia Sedona is a reliable minivan that’s worth buying on the used car market. There weren’t many major problems with the car in the current generation, also known as Kia Carnival, and most of the previous-gen issues were sorted out through recalls.
So, it’s important to see if your car has gone through the recall and still try to avoid the 2002-2003, 2005-2006, and 2012 model years if possible.
What year should you avoid Sedona?
You should avoid the 2002, 2003, 2005, 2006, and 2012 Kia Sedona model years, while the 2016 model year also had a few reported electrical issues.
What problems do Kia Sedonas have?
Kia Sedonas have issues with the electrical wiring harnesses, fire hazards concerning the wire below the seats and the alternator, and issues with the crankshaft position sensor causing power loss.
Is a Kia Sedona reliable?
Yes, Kia Sedona is a reliable car as long as you avoid the problematic model years listed above.
Do Kia Sedonas have transmission problems?
Kia Sedonas have a problem with the automatic transmission shift lever that falls out of place and creates a rollaway risk on 2016 Sedona vehicles.