Enter Night: Feds Probe Kia Over Sudden Headlight Failure

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
enter night feds probe kia over sudden headlight failure

Having both forward driving lights illuminated after dark is a key element of road safety; one most automakers nailed long ago, at least until their vehicles start really getting on in years. Even then, a new bulb should be all a driver ever needs to keep the path ahead well lit.

Not so for some Kia Sorento owners. Enough consumer complaints have rolled in to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that the federal agency has opened an investigation.

The probe, which kicked off this month, concerns 2011-2013 Sorento models. According to the feds, the NHTSA’s Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) has received “74 reports of sudden, unexpected loss of headlights” in Sorento models of that vintage.

The agency says complainants “allege the headlights can turn off for some time until it corrects itself or the driver turns the vehicle off and on again,” adding, “Some vehicle owners complain they have taken the vehicle in to dealerships for service several times, but the problem has reoccurred.”

No crashes or injuries stem from the reported incidents, but clearly some owners are sick of not being able to count on forward illumination while underway. As the owner of a heavenly Toyota Camry car that sustained two deer strikes in short succession, this writer known all too well the frustration (and potential police trouble) that can arise from having just one headlight on the blink.

A typical complaint received by the NHTSA follows:

“I have had to replace my headlight bulbs 4 times since I have had this car. I had to replace the passenger side wiring harness because the lights kept going out. Now the drivers side headlight was just replaced and it went back out.”

And another:

“Lighting has went out multiple times, both headlights and now turn signals. When headlight go out, it often melts the light bulb socket and burns wires. When the turn signal went out, the bulb burning out caused the computer to short out, by design according to the service technician. Lights randomly go out without warning, often flickering, especially when hitting bumps.”

Frustrating, for sure. As this is just a preliminary investigation designed to get a fix on the scope of the issue, no recall has been advised. That said, Kia could launch one without the NHTSA’s prompting, assuming it knows the issue’s origin and has a fix in mind.

[Image: Kia]

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  • DenverMike DenverMike on Jun 25, 2020

    Headlights are too important so I wouldn't mess around. Forget the dealer and go to the stereo shop. It's just basic 12 Volts, and the dealer won't alter/upgrade or even bypass the original system or relays on problematic and or intermittent fails. Maybe not a stereo shop exactly, but some things call for custom work. I've been doing it myself on older cars and trucks since I've been driving (stereo/amps are a hobby) and it's clear all vehicles use the absolute thinnest gauge wires and cheapest lighting system components they can get away with. They draw high amperage and there's lots of heating, cooling and oxidation at the contacts. Plugs also distort and twist from overheating. And there's way to many loom contacts/plugs, all for making the assembly process cheaper/faster. Except I'd leave the high beams stock if there isn't a problem with those. The same goes for running lights, fogs, etc.

  • Msquare Msquare on Jun 26, 2020

    I didn't know Lucas had set up shop in Korea.

  • ToolGuy T E L L U R I D E is not on this list(I can keep my poster on the wall)
  • ToolGuy My impression is that Honda has been coasting on its reputation for awhile now.(To Honda's credit, they aren't standing on the Self Destruct button like Toyota seems to be)
  • Fred I owned a 2001 MR2 for 15 years nothing ever went wrong with the vehicle. It was always exciting to drive most people thought it was a boxster. The only negative was storage and legroom considering I'm a little over 6:4 the only reason it was sold was as a second car and a grandchild on the way we needed something more practical.
  • V16 I'm sure most people could find 155,365 reasons to choose another luxury brand SUV and pocket the difference.
  • ChristianWimmer I don’t want this autonomous driving garbage technology in any car.My main fear is this. Once this technology is perfected, freedom-hating eco hysterical governments (crap hole Germany, UK and the European Union in general) will attempt to ban private car ownership because “you don’t need to own a car anymore since the car can come to you, drop you off and then proceed to service the next customer”... no thanks. Having your own car is FREEDOM.Go away, autonomous driving. I also enjoy the act of driving a car. I want to drive, not be driven.