Kia Sorrento Suspension Issues Explained(+3 Tips)

In this brief article we are going to discuss the different Kia Sorrento Suspension problems, what the causes are, and Troubleshooting Tips.

Top 7 most common suspension issues in the Kia Sorrento? 

The most common suspension issues seen in the Kia Sorrento are:

  • Front Spring Breakage
  • Clunking Noise in the Front End
  • Front Shock Absorber Strut Failure
  • Rear Shock Absorber Failure
  • Front Control Arm Failure
  • Rear Wheel Bearing Failure
  • Rear Trailing Arm

What suspension does the Kia Sorrento have?

The Kia Sorrento is a mid-size crossover SUV manufactured since 2002. It is currently in its 4th generation.

Front Suspension

The first generation (2002-2009) BL platform of Kia Sorrento had a Double Wishbone front suspension. From the second generation (2010) onwards, the Front suspension in the Kia Sorrento has been a MacPherson Strut and Lower control Arm with Anti-roll bar. This arrangement is mounted onto the front subframe.

Rear Suspension

The Kia Sorrento has got a 4-link rear suspension: Trailing arm, Lower control arm, Upper control arm and Toe Link, all working with coil springs, shock absorbers and anti roll bar.

Front Spring Breakage

Symptoms:

  • You would notice a sudden drop in suspension height on any one side. This can be easily verified by measuring the wheel center height from any reference on the body like the Fender edge.
  • Rattling, Squeaking, Creaking noises while driving which are louder when driving over a Bump
  • Issue mostly seen in Kia Sorrento 3rd Generation

Troubleshooting Front Spring Breakage

  • In a majority of cases, the spring fails due to the combined effects of corrosion & fatigue over a period of time.
  • The service life of the spring depends on whether the car is used over roads that have salt or in an atmosphere where there is a lot of moisture.
  • For replacing the Spring from a strut, you need to first compress the Spring in a spring compressor. You can either use a hydraulic compressor (preferred) or a Threaded Bolt type as well

Effects of Suspension Height Modifications/Lowering

  • If any lowering springs were installed on the car, the springs may not always be seated in their perches properly. As a result of this, the spring can make noise. 
  • This possibility is higher in the case of the front suspension, as the spring can get hung up or binded instead of rotating freely when trying to turn. The result is a creaking and groaning noise.

Clunking Noise in Front End

  • ‘Clunking’ noise during normal driving especially on bad and rough road patches that cause the vehicle to “Roll” more.
  • The same ‘Clunk’ noise reduces on smoother roads
  • Seen in Second Gen (XM platform) 2009-2014 model years

Troubleshooting Clunking Noise in normal driving

  • For most car suspensions, a ‘Clunk’ Noise is more related to the Anti-roll Bar assembly of the suspension

Anti roll bar Subframe mounting bush failure

  • The Anti-Roll bar (ARB) bushings are the isolators between the ARB and the vehicle’s chassis. The bushings also ‘secure’ the ARB in place and restrict excessive movement so that the ARB can properly function
  • The ARB is under torsional loads while the car is undergoing “Roll” motion either during cornering or Rough Roads. 
  • In these situations, when the ARB undergoes torsion, the mounting bushes also share part of the road loads.
  • Bushings that have aged, hardened, or simply worn out and become loose tend to cause noise as they allow unnecessary movement of the ARB.

Pro-Tip

  • While refitting the Antiroll bar subframe bushing use a good anti-seize paste at the contact surface between the anti roll bar and the rubber bushing
  • Anti-Seize application could be repeated periodically in order to prevent excessive wear, say, every 50K miles or so.
  • For improving handling, you could search in the aftermarket for the same bushing with harder material. The harness is generally denoted by the Shore ‘A’ hardness number.

Anti-roll bar End link Failure

  • The ARB-to-suspension connection is done using ARB end links. 
  • On the front axle, the end links use a sealed ball joint design that has a significant range of motion sufficient for the various movements of the front suspension. 
  • The rubber boot that protects the end link Ball-joints can tear, allowing the joint lubrication to seep out and exposing the ball joint to corrosion. The result is a clunking noise from the worn joint. 
  • If the end links’ mounting fasteners have loosened on either end, it could result in clunking noise.
  • On the rear suspension ARB end links, rubber bushings are used instead of ball joints. These end link bushings can age and then start to squeak. 
  • Use of Lubricants could temporarily solve the squeaking sound problem. But it is always recommended that new end links be fitted.

Front Shock Absorber Strut Failure

Symptoms:

  • Rattling Noise going over any rough patches
  • Front end bouncier than normal
  • Changes in handling behaviour; Vehicle not feeling stable at high speed cornering

Troubleshooting Front Shock Absorber Failure

  • The Bouncy Ride symptom points to the Shock Absorber as a probable cause.
  • If your vehicle has crossed 50K miles, then it could be due for a shock replacement. Due to long-term internal wear, the shock starts becoming ineffective over time.
  • If the front strut shock has started leaking oil due to a failed oil-seal, then it means that the shock will no longer be effective.
  • One good way to tell if your shock has failed or not is to do a “Bounce Test”. Put all your weight on one of the front corners of the vehicle pushing it downwards. Keep oscillating the corner till you feel that it has reached its maximum height. Once you take your hands off the corner, observe how it settles. If it takes more than 2 oscillations to settle, that means the damper has failed.
  • The Top Strut mounts are accessible only after removing the Windshield wiper Cowl
  • A good quality and safe spring compressor tool is required for separating the coil spring from the strut

Rear Shock Absorber Failure

Symptoms:

  • Knocking and Popping Noises from the Rear going over bumps
  • Rear end feels bouncier

Troubleshooting Rear Shock Failure

  • The Bouncy Ride symptom points to the Shock Absorber as a probable cause.
  • The noises coming from the rear are partly due to the failed shock absorber allowing the bump stops to contact more often. And also the noises partly come from the worn out shock mounting bushes that allow the shock to move and hit against the mounting brackets.
  • If your vehicle has crossed 40-50K miles, then it could be due for a shock replacement. Due to long-term internal wear, the shock starts losing its damping action over time.
  • If the rear shock has started leaking oil due to a failed oil-seal, then it means that the shock will no longer be effective.
  • One good way to tell if your shock has failed or not is to do a “Bounce Test”. Put all your weight on one of the front corners of the vehicle pushing it downwards. Keep oscillating the corner till you feel that it has reached its maximum height. Once you take your hands off the corner, observe how it settles. If it takes more than 2 oscillations to settle, that means the damper has failed.

Front Control Arm Failure

Symptoms:

  • The car seems to be drifting
  • Steering seems vague while Lane Changing
  • Uneven Tire Wear pattern
  • Knocking Noises while going over Rough Patches
  • Usually seen in second gen ‘04 – ‘10 Kia Sorrento Model years

Root Cause:

  • Due to a Tire wear issue, it can be inferred that the alignment of the front suspension is outside of the recommended settings. But this is still a symptom.
  • The cause for alignment change points to the Lower control arm Bushings and Ball-joints that may have got worn or damaged

Troubleshooting Front Control Arm Failure: Lower Control Arm Bushing

  • Lower Control Arm bushing wears out over time and cracks due to age
  • When inspecting the Lower control arm after removal, it is clear that there are tears and cracks in the rubber portion.

Pro-Tips:

  • For Rusted Bolt connections that are hard to Break-open, do not try repeatedly using hand or pneumatic tools.
  • Always first soak it for 10-15 min after spraying a good Rust-penetrant

Troubleshooting Front Control Arm Failure: Lower Control Arm Ball-Joint

  • In the Macpherson type of front suspension, the lower control arm ball-joints are subject to wear and tear
  • The deterioration is usually initiated as a crack or rupture in the rubber boot around the ball-joint
  • This leads to loss of lubrication and finally to complete wear out
  • The wear out causes play or movement accompanied by knocking noise. The play in the ball-joint is one of the reasons for the vehicle steering feeling value
  • You can easily check for Ball-joint condition by this simple procedure:
    • Get the car on a Ramp
    • Lock the steering wheel
    • Hold the front tire with both your hands and try to steer the wheel
    • If you hear a ‘Knock’ or ‘Click’, then it is very much likely that the noise is due to a play in the Ball-joint
  • The best course of action would be to replace the whole Lower control arm since it comes with 2 new bushings and 1 new ball-joint all pre-assembled

Pro-Tips:

  • For a low mileage vehicle it may not be necessary to replace the whole control arm in case of a ball-joint damage.
  • Use a proper Ball-joint removal clamp to remove and re-fit the ball-joint

Troubleshooting Front Control Arm Failure: Upper Control Arm Ball-Joint

  • In case of first generation Sorrento BL (2003-2009), that came with Double-Wishbone front suspension, the Upper control arm ball-joint is also a source of knocking noise, apart from Handling and Tire-wear issues
  • You can easily check for a bad ball-joint by simply trying to move the Upper control arm and observing for movement at the ball-joint, and Knocking noises

Rear Wheel Bearing Failure

Symptoms:

  • Droning noise above 30 mph speeds
  • Sound is louder with increasing speed

Troubleshooting Rear Wheel Bearing Failure

  • Droning noise is generally associated with one of the wheel bearings depending on where the noise is coming from
  • Wheel bearings generally have a life of 70K miles, after which, on detecting noise issues, must be replaced
  • In the Kia Sorrento, the wheel bearing is housed within the Knuckle and the Wheel Spindle. It is of a single-piece design.
  • The Wheel Hub comes as a unit along with the Wheel bearing press-fitted

Rear Trailing Arm Failure

  • Poor Handling. Tail comes out during fast lane change.
  • Uneven or excessive rear Tire-wear
  • Usually happens in the Second Generation XM models (2009 – 2014 model years)

Troubleshooting Rear Trailing Arm Failure

  • The rear tire’s excessive tire wear is an indication of a Wheel-Alignment change during normal driving
  • This means that the Trailing Arm of the rear suspension is unable to maintain the wheel’s Toe and Camber settings while driving normally
  • This means the Trailing arm Link bushings might have worn out and therefore need replacement
  • It could also be that the trailing arm has bent probably due to some sudden road impact that was a one-off event

Conclusion

In this brief article we have discussed the different Kia Sorrento Suspension problems, what the causes are, and Troubleshooting Tips.

For any questions or comments, please feel free to get in touch with us.

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