Kia is Recalling the Notoriously Defective Theta II Engine

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An overhead view of a parking lot with cars neatly lined up inside parking spaces.

The Theta II recall that so many Kia owners have been waiting for is finally here. Kia is recalling more than 618,000 model year 2011-2014 Kia Optima, 2012-2014 Sorento and 2011-2013 Sportage vehicles because the engine bearings can wear out too early and cause the engines to seize. The automaker says machining problems occurred during manufacturing, something dealers will need to fix by replacing the engine assemblies.

We’ve been tracking Theta II engine problems for a while and let’s just say … they’re not good.

Last year, Kia was sued by owners who thought the automaker has been concealing the defect. And they may be on to something.

Hyundai ordered a recall of 470,000 Sonatas after the company learned their Theta II engine could seize from oil contaminated with metal shavings back in 2015. That prompted an engine review which revealed similar oil delivery problems in Kia vehicles. Kia, however, didn’t order a recall because no accidents or injuries has been reported.

But with warranty claims on then rise and Hyundai simultaneously recalling 572,000 vehicles with the same engines, the writing was on the wall.

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Theta II GDI Engine Stalls and Siezes

Many Kia vehicles have a Theta II, a gasoline direct injection (GDI) engine that is well known for having oil flow issues that eventually cause catastrophic failures.

Related Kia Generations

At least one model year in these 3 generations have a relationship to this story.

We track this because a generation is just a group of model years where very little changes from year-to-year. Chances are owners throughout these generation will want to know about this news. Click on a generation for more information.

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