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Does Kia Manufacture Its Engines?

Manufacturers  ·  August 4, 2022

Does Kia Manufacture Its Engines?

Kia is a South Korean car brand known for its affordability and reliability, but do you know that not all Kia models use Kia-made engines?

Most Kia engines are manufactured by Hyundai, their sister-company. They share several Hyundai engines, e.g., the Kappa, Gamma, and Theta engines. Kia also manufactures some of its own, including a 1.7-litre diesel engine, and some older models use GEMA engines.

In this guide, let’s talk about the engines in Kia car models. We’ll also explore some of the problems that have been plaguing these engines in Australia and other parts of the world.

What Engines Does Kia Use? 

Kia is a part of the much larger Hyundai Auto Group, and both originate from South Korea. As part of their shared history, both car brands share plenty of common elements in their car designs and components.

They share not only various car platforms but also their engines.

You’ll find Hyundai engines (usually named using Greek alphabets) under the hood of many Hyundai and Kia models, such as the following:

The two car companies also seem to share their engine manufacturing capabilities. For example, many Hyundai engines are coming out of Kia manufacturing plants.

Kia also produces engines for some of its vehicles. For instance, 24% of all engines that Kia builds at their Slovakia location are their very own 1.7-litre diesel engine. 

Besides that, Kia also manufactures performance engines like the GDI Turbo System on some Optima models.

Who Makes Kia Engines?

Aside from the engines built by Kia and Hyundai, some old Kia models also used engines from GEMA or the Global Engine Manufacturing Alliance.

GEMA was a joint venture between several leading automakers, including Hyundai and several others. Its purpose was to develop engine designs that could be shared among its members, who could manufacture and use them in their vehicles.

Engines from that alliance were typically those in compact displacements of 1.8, 2.0, and 2.4 litres.

However, the GEMA venture ended in 2009.

Are Kia Engines Reliable?

Yes, engines manufactured by Kia and the Hyundai engines used in Kia vehicles are known to be exceptionally reliable. Those engines are a significant contributor to the overall reliability that Kia cars are known for.

To put that into context, the 2022 J.D. Power Vehicle Dependability Study (VDS) in the United States ranked Kia as the top brand in a survey they conducted for all popular auto brands.

Kia, a non-premium car brand, proved more reliable by scoring better than other mass-market and premium automakers.

So Why Are Some Kia Engines Failing? 

Despite the positive reviews and long history of reliability with Kia engines, their reputation is not without problems.

Over the years, owners of several Kia models have reported engine failure. According to, owners of Kia cars have reported engine failure as the top problem they face with this car brand.

Based on some Kia recalls in the United States, the engine failures were caused by engine defects that prevented oil from flowing smoothly through the engine block. 

On top of that, The Center for Auto Safety also pointed out that many Kia and Hyundai models burst into flames, with smoke, burning, and melted wires in the engine bay.

Unfortunately, those Kia engine problems were severe enough that they caught the attention of road safety non-profit organisations and auto safety regulators.

Which Kia Models Have Engine Problems?

Engine problems among Kia’s lineup were reported for models like the Sedona, K900, Forte, Sportage, and Soul.

There has been a long list of recalls for both Hyundai and Kia models since 2015. The recalls targeted 20 models, including those made from 2006 to 2021.

Product Safety Australia recalled two models, the Kia QL Sportage (2016-2021) and the Kia CK Stinger (2017-2019), due to an engine defect. 

The justification for the recall in Australia was the Hydraulic Electronic Control Unit (HECU), which remained live even when the engine was turned off. 

As a result, any moisture in the HECU could lead to a short circuit. This defect could cause engine fires even if the car were not switched on. Overall, more than 57,000 cars were involved in that recall in 2021.


By Ray Hasbollah


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