Kia Sportage Suspension Issues Explained(+3 Tips)

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

Top 7 most common suspension issues in the Kia Sportage? 

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

  • Front Spring Breakage
  • Anti roll bar Subframe mounting failure
  • Front Shock Absorber Strut Failure
  • Rear Shock Absorber Failure
  • Front Lower Control Arm Failure
  • Front Wheel Bearing Failure
  • Rear Toe Link Failure

What suspension does the Kia Sportage have?

Front Suspension

The first generation (1993-2004) NB7 platform of Kia Sportage had a Double Wishbone front suspension based on the Mazda Bongo. From the second generation (2005) onwards, the Front suspension in the Kia Sportage 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 Sportage first generation was a Trailing Axle with Panhard rod Suspension configuration along with Coil Springs and Shock Absorbers. 

In the subsequent generation the Kia Sportage got a 4-link rear suspension: Trailing arm, Lower control arm, Upper control arm and Toe Link

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 Sportage 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.

Front Anti roll bar Subframe mounting bush failure

Symptoms:

  • Knocking or Creaking noises while normal driving
  • The noise is mostly not heard on a smooth road. It is mostly when driving over uneven roads.

Troubleshooting Front Anti roll bar Subframe mounting bush failure

  • The best troubleshooting method would be to go through all the bushings and ball-joints first
  • Once it is confirmed that you have no issues at any of the suspension joints, the next thing to look at is the anti roll bar-to-subframe mounting bushes.
  • The subframe bushes tend to wear out beyond ~50K miles and beyond that they start to create Knocking noises, and in some cases even creaking noises.
  • To confirm that they are fully worn, it would be best to use a pry bar and try to move the subframe at the mounting bush point. 
  • More movement means that the bushes have worn out and that there is a clearance gap between the anti roll bar and the subframe mounting bush. This gap is the source of the noise.

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
  • 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.

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 Kia Sportage First generation (BN7) front shock absorber strut tube is attached to the lower control arm via 2 mounting clamp-legs on either side of the control arm.
  • 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 Lower 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 Sportage 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 Lower Control Arm Bushing 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-Tip

  • 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

Front Wheel Bearing Failure

Symptoms:

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

Troubleshooting Front 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 Sportage, the wheel bearing is housed within the Knuckle and the Wheel Spindle. It is of a single-piece design.
  • It is possible to dismantle the bearing without dismantling the Knuckle, using an appropriate Bearing Removal Kit.

Rear Toe Link Failure

  • Under Hard acceleration, it feels as if the vehicle’s rear end is steering itself
  • Uneven or excessive rear Tire-wear

Troubleshooting Rear Toe link failure

  • The rear of the vehicle’s tendency to spin out is an indication of a Toe-change at the time of acceleration
  • This means that the Toe-link of the rear suspension is unable to control the Toe under acceleration
  • This means the Toe-link bushings might have worn out and therefore need replacement
  • A failed Toe Link also affects wheel alignment and causes excessive rear tire wear
  • Another reason could be that you have lowered the rear suspension and not used an adjustable Rear Camber Arm to adjust for the Camber gained due to lowered height.

Conclusion

In this brief article we have discussed the different Kia Sportage 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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