When the Kia Stinger launched back in 2017 it was designed to be their flagship motor vehicle and improve the company image. While it couldn’t quite match sports sedans from the likes of BMW, Mercedes and Audi, the Stinger (especially the V6 one) was praised for its excellent driving characteristics, performance and fairly reasonable price (when dealer markups weren’t so bad).
Unfortunately, for new buyers, Kia Stingers have suffered from some pretty heavy depreciation, which means if you are looking to buy one used you can often get a pretty good deal. In this buyers guide we are going to cover some topics that will give you the information you need to find a great Kia Stinger that should last you years.
How to Use This Kia Stinger Buyers Guide
This is quite a detailed guide, so use the table of contents below to skip to the section you want to read. To begin with we will look at the history, specs and different versions of the Kia Stinger to give you a bit of background information about the car. Following those sections we will dive into common problems with the Stinger and what to look out for during an inspection/test drive. To finish up we have more general used car purchasing advice on topics like “how to get the best deal on a used car”.
The History of the Kia Stinger
During the 2000s, Kia was largely regarded as a manufacturer of cheap, yet adequate cars. They didn’t really have anything that would make you yearn for the Kia badge, but they would get you around perfectly fine. However, things began to change when Peter Schreyer and Tom Kearns joined the Korean company. Schreyer had previously worked at Audi and Volkswagen, with one of his most notable designs being the first-generation Audi TT. Kearns on the other hand was formerly the Chief Design Officer at Cadillac and was responsible for bringing the more hard-edge designs to the American brand.
The two designers were central to the complete restyling of Kia’s entire range and they helped create a universal design for the brand that was more recognisable. With an improved design and better models, the Kia brand continued to grow, but they wanted to create some models that would shake the cheap, reasonable car image that was still so heavily tied to the brand.
The first hint of such a model was at the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show where they rolled out their GT concept. This four-door, rear-wheel drive sports saloon with its aggressive styling and suicide doors was like nothing the company had produced before and showed that the company’s designers and engineers had some serious creative talent. But it wasn’t just the body and design that was impressive, it was also what was under the stretched hood. Kia’s team equipped the car with a 390 bhp 3.3-litre turbocharged V6 that really drew some attention.
Unfortunately, there was no word on a production model, but Schreyer did give a hint on the possibility of producing such a car to Top Gear’s team at the show. He said “It would be a dream to put this into production. It’s exactly the kind of car Kia should be making.”
Fans of the GT Concept didn’t have to wait long to hear whether or not Kia would further develop the idea, with the company confirming that they had green-lit further concepts a couple of months later. Interestingly, at this stage, Kia was not only considering a sedan version of the GT, but also a two-door coupe and even a station wagon.
The next major news for the sporty new Kia would come in 2013 when Soon-Nam Lee, the vice-president of overseas marketing, stated that the company had a plan to produce a production version of the GT. However, he also said that the car would not come until 2016 at the earliest as they wanted to see what sort of feedback their recently released semi-hot hatch, the Procee’d GT, would receive.
Kia Unveils the GT4 Stinger Concept
During the 2014 Detroit Auto Show, Kia would launch an even more boldly designed concept, the GT4 Stinger. This two-door, rear-wheel drive concept was created by Kia’s Southern California design studio and it shared the same 2.0-litre turbocharged engine as in their Optima race cars, but with slightly less power at around 315 bhp (235 kW).
The exterior design was certainly an eye catcher as well, with the formed body panels giving off an almost shrink-wrapped appearance. The big fenders covered massive 20-inch wheels wrapped in 75/35R-20 Pirelli P-Zero performance tyres at the rear and 235/35R-20 Pirelli P-Zeros at the front that helped to provide excellent levels of cornering grip. Kia’s engineers didn’t cheap out on stopping power as well, with the car receiving two-piece 381 mm (15-inch) cross-drilled rotors and four-piston calipers.
Under the ‘Ignition Yellow’ coloured body, the team at Kia even developed a custom chassis for the concept with independent double wishbone suspension. The car was also fairly compact and light at just over 1,300 kg (2,866 lbs), and the 52:48 weight distribution meant that those kgs were nearly perfectly balanced from front to rear.
Unfortunately, while Kia had confirmed that a production version of the GT Concept was in the works, this GT4 Stinger Concept wouldn’t get the same treatment. We think it is a great shame as we personally prefer this concept to the four-door one from a few years earlier, and we think it would have made a great production car.
Rumours of a Stinger Sedan
After a quiet year in 2015 for news on the performance sedan, 2016 would be much more interesting. The car, code-named CK, was spied on multiple occasions at test tracks and it was also heavily rumoured that the GT name from the original 2011 concept had been dropped in favour of the Stinger name from the 2014 concept.
Other rumours suggested that the car was based on a shortened version of the platform used by the Genesis G80 and G90 sedans, and that it would share the 3.3-litre twin-turbocharged V6 from those cars as well. Less powerful 4- and 6-cylinder engines were also rumoured to be part of the range as well and that the car would square up against the likes of the Audi A7 and Mercedes-Benz CLS, but at a significantly lower cost.
Luckily, for interested parties, it wouldn’t be that long before Kia would announced what they had been working on.
Kia Unveils the Stinger
Kia unwrapped their most powerful road going production car at the 2017 North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Labelled the Stinger, it was instantly clear that Kia was taking aim at the German car market and it was a car like nothing they had put to production before.
Its aggressive, yet elegant styling gave the car a racy physique and was the work of Peter Schreyer, Gregory Guillaume, Sang Hun Ahn and their fantastic team of designers. Their creation was significantly different than the 2011 concept, but there were some elements that were similar such as the long, swooping bonnet/hood.
Albert Biermann, the former BMW M Vice President of Engineering, was in charge of the mechanical bits and just like rumours had suggested, the range topping Stinger was kitted out with a twin-turbo 3.3-litre V6 Lambda II power unit. With 370 PS (365 bhp/272 kW) and 510 Nm (376 lb ft) of torque, the new Stinger was a serious performer and even had the much lauded Audi S4 sweating.
But the powerful 6-cylinder engine wasn’t the only option that Kia announced. They also revealed that the Stinger would be available with a turbocharged inline 4 Theta II engine for those who wanted to get their hands on the sporty sedan but at a more wallet friendly price. Of course, the smaller engine did come with a performance hit, with the 2.0-litre model producing significantly less power at 255 PS (252 bhp/188 kW) and 353 Nm (260 lb-ft) of torque (in some markets power was slightly lower at 247 PS/182 kW). The result of this was a 0 – 100km/h (62 mph) time of around 6 seconds, whereas the bigger engined model could manage it in just under five seconds.
Just like the concepts, a number of the Stinger variations send their power through the rear wheels, however, Kia also introduced an all-wheel drive option as well. With a more rear wheel bias and a Dynamic Torque Vectoring Control system that monitors driver inputs, the Stinger’s all-wheel drive system was designed to provide excellent control in both the dry and wet while still offering an exciting driving experience.
Despite having a good amount of grunt, the Stinger wasn’t just about straight-line speed and wheel-spinning fun. Albert Biermann and his team gave the car a MacPherson setup at the front and a multi-link system at the rear. Gas struts were standard on all models, but electronically adjustable ones were available as an option as well. The car received enormous praise for its grin inducing cornering abilities and super-sharp steering, and was even likened to a BMW M series car in this regard (which would make sense given Biermann’s time at BMW’s M division).
The brakes on the other hand weren’t so highly praised. While the four-piston front/two piston rear calipers and 350 mm front/340 mm rear (13.8-inch/13.4-inch) rotors on the 3.3-litre GT were fairly powerful, the Stinger isn’t the lightest car and quite a few reviewers wished for a bit more stopping power given the impressive grunt under the bonnet. This was made only worse on the 2.0-litre models as the brakes were downgraded to single piston at the front and rear with smaller discs as well.
On the inside the Kia Stinger was equipped with a rather nice and well laid out interior. It is full of nice soft touch materials and sleek brushed aluminium and at the time of launch it could have easily been confused with the interior of a more prestigious European brand if it wasn’t for the badge. This luxurious interior was obviously a sign of things to come with Kia, as the brand has now started moving more upmarket with their electric vehicles as of 2023.
Diesel Stinger On the Way
While a diesel model wasn’t on show in Detroit, Albert Biermann did confirm that such a model would be coming. Limited to the Korean and European markets, the diesel Stinger would make its debut a few months after the petrol models at the Geneva Motor Show.
Kia’s design team gave the car the 2.2-litre four-cylinder engine from their Sorento and Hyundai’s Santa Fe. With 200 PS (197 bhp/146 kW) and 440 Nm (324 lb-ft) of torque on hand, the diesel’s performance was seriously down compared to its petrol powered siblings, with a 0 – 100km/h (62 mph) time of around 8.5 seconds. Still, the performance wasn’t too bad compared to other similarly priced cars in its segment.
Just like the petrol cars, the diesel Stinger was given a second-generation version of Kia’s eight-speed automatic transmission. This transmission offers up to five different shift and throttle programmes, which the driver can select through to provide better performance or comfort.
Talk of an Electric Model
Interestingly, in early 2017 their were talks of an electrified version of the Stinger. Spencer Cho, Kia’s overseas product marketing boss, confirmed that due to the Stinger’s engine layout, it could share many of the existing components from their Optima hybrid model. He stated that Kia was looking at the possibility of a hybrid model and even a pure EV, with the Stinger’s transmission tunnel being repurposed to accommodate batteries.
Unfortunately, these electrified models never materialised. We feel this is a bit of a shame as a Stinger with the powertrain of an EV6 would have been an interesting proposal. Failure to further develop these models is probably down to the somewhat lukewarm sales of the Stinger and the fact that the car would have to have some compromises due to it originally being developed with an internal combustion engine in mind. Still, we would have liked to have seen what a full EV Stinger would have been like.
Kia Updates the Stinger in 2020
An updated version of the Stinger would go on sale from the third quarter of 2020 in the South Korea, with the refreshed model coming to all other markets later the same year.
While the changes to the model weren’t big, there were quite a few of them. According to Kia the Stinger’s design was revamped to better emphasise its “gran turismo character”. What this involved was restyling the LED headlights and tail-lights, with the latter of which now stretching the full width of the car. The indicators were also changed to give the impression of a chequered flag. Other major changes on the outside were the addition of new 18- and 19-inch wheel designs, larger exhaust tips on the GT model, and a rear diffuser.
Kia’s team also changed up the interior. They upgraded the infotainment system to a 10.25-inch screen that offers split-screen functionality. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto were also included as standard, and even the dashboard screen could be upgraded to a 7-inch unit on models that didn’t already have it. Some of the materials were also changed to make the cabin feel more luxurious, with a chrome finish being added to the steering wheel and instruments display. Customers could also opt for contrast stitching on the dashboard and doors, and suede upholstery became available to select.
Unfortunately, those looking for a big boost in performance were left disappointed. The 3.3-litre twin-turbo engine received a very minor boost in power of 3 PS (3 bhp / 2.2 kW) thanks to a new exhaust setup.
For some markets, Kia introduced another model, the GT-Line. With a 2.5-litre T-GDi engine and 304 PS (300 bhp/224 kW) on tap, the GT-Line slotted in between the 3.3-litre GT and the lower tier models. Speaking of the smaller engined Stingers, Kia dropped them from a number of markets like the UK due to poor sales. This meant that the 3.3-litre Stinger GT models were the only ones available in some markets (GT, GT1, GT2, and GTS).
The End of the Stinger
At the end of 2022, Kia announced that the Stinger had run its course and it would be discontinued in 2023, but not before they would release one last special edition.
Based on the 3.3-litre Stinger GT, the ‘Tribute Edition’ was available in a unique paint finishes, including Moonscape matte grey Ascot Green. The interior is trimmed in special Terracotta brown leather and some other visual changes included blacked-out brake calipers and wheels.
Only 1,000 of these Stingers were made available to customers, with 200 of them being reserved for the Korean market. No performance upgrades were made to this car.
Kia Stinger 2018 to 2023 Specifications
|Model||Stinger 2.0-litre||Stinger GT 3.3-litre Twin Turbo||Stinger Diesel 2.0-litre||Stinger 2.5-litre|
|Country/Location of Assembly||South Korea, Russia, and Kazakhstan||South Korea, Russia, and Kazakhstan||South Korea, Russia, and Kazakhstan||South Korea, Russia, and Kazakhstan|
|Year of production||2017 – 2023||2017 – 2023||2017 – 2023||2020 – 2023|
|Layout||Front-engine, rear-wheel drive Front-engine, all-wheel drive||Front-engine, rear-wheel drive Front-engine, all-wheel drive||Front-engine, rear-wheel drive||Front-engine, rear-wheel drive|
|Engine/Engines||2.0-litre Theta II Twin Scroll Turbo Inline 4||3.3-litre Lambda II Twin Turbo V6||2.2-litre R II CRDi Inline 4||2.5-litre Smartstream Turbocharged Inline 4|
|Power||255 PS (252 bhp/188 kW) at 6,200 rpm 247 PS (244 bhp/182 kW) at 6,200 rpm – in some other markets||370 PS (356 bhp/272 kW) at 6,000 rpm 373 PS (368 bhp/274 kW) at 6,000 rpm – 2020 onwards||200 PS (197 bhp/146 kW) at 5,500 rpm||304 PS (300 bhp/224 kW) at 5,800 rpm|
|Torque||353 Nm (260 lb-ft) from 1,400–4,000 rpm||510 Nm (376 lb ft) from 1,300–4,500 rpm||440 Nm (324 lb-ft) from 1,750–2,750 rpm||362 Nm (266 lb-ft) from 3,000 rpm|
|Gearbox||8-speed automatic with five driving modes and paddle-shifters||8-speed automatic with five driving modes and paddle-shifters||8-speed automatic with five driving modes and paddle-shifters||8-speed automatic with five driving modes and paddle-shifters|
|Brakes Front||Single piston calipers and vented 320 mm (12.6-inch)||Brembo 4-piston calipers and vented 350 mm (13.8-inch) discs||Single piston calipers and vented 320 mm (12.6-inch)||Single piston calipers and vented 345 mm (13.6-inch)|
|Brakes Rear||Single piston calipers and 315 mm (12.4-inch)||Brembo 2-piston calipers and 340 mm (13.4-inch) discs||Single piston calipers and 315 mm (12.4-inch)||Single piston calipers and 330 mm (13-inch)|
|Suspension Rear||Multi Link (5-link)||Multi Link (5-link)||Multi Link (5-link)||Multi Link (5-link)|
|Top speed||240 km/h (149 mph)||269 km/h (167 mph)||225 km/h (140 mph)||N/A|
|0 – 100 km/h (62 mph)||6.1 seconds||4.9 seconds||8.5 seconds||5.2 seconds advertised 5.7 tested by MotorTrend|
Kia Stinger 2008 to 2013 Buyer’s Guide
With all of the history and specifications out of the way, it is time to get into why you really clicked on this article, the buyer’s guide. Generally these cars are reliable, but maintenance can be surprisingly expensive, so expect reliability problems to become more common as these cars get in the hands of people who can’t afford to maintain them properly.
When inspecting any newer used car we recommend that you take along an OBD2 scanner like this one from BlueDriver. An OBD2 scanner can be used to scan and read vehicle fault codes (mostly engine, but sometimes other ones as well), which can save you a whole load of money if you discover the car you are looking at has a very serious fault. There are loads of OBD2 scanners out there and we have reviewed a number of them on this site (For example, the Autophix 3210, Fixed Scanner, and the BlueDriver Pro).
Before we get into the nuts and bolts of actually what to look out for when inspecting a Kia Stinger, lets take a look at some things to keep in mind when searching for a used Stinger and arranging an inspection.
Setting Up an Inspection of a Kia Stinger
If possible, physically inspect the car in person – We highly recommend performing a physical inspection of any Kia Stinger before making a purchase if possible. The reason for this is that you are more likely to identify any potential issues that may not have been visible in the listing photos or description. If you can’t inspect the Stinger yourself, you may want to consider asking a trustworthy friend or third-party inspector to carry out the inspection for you.
Consider taking a reliable friend or third-party with you to an inspection – An extra person can really come in handy when carrying out an inspection of any used car. Your friend or helper may be able to spot potential issues that you may have overlooked on your own. Your helper can also offer their own opinion on the Stinger and whether they believe it would be a good or a bad purchase.
Try to look at the Stinger at the seller’s home or place of business – This can sometimes give you valuable information about where the car you are looking at is typically stored, parked, etc. If the car is usually parked outside on the street, it may be more susceptible to rust, bodywork issues, and other potential problems. Additionally, it can be a good idea to check the quality of the roads where the Stinger is frequently driven on. If the roads are rough and full of potholes pay extra attention to the wheels, tyres, and suspension as they may be more prone to premature wear or damage.
One thing to keep in mind is that not all sellers are happy with buyers knowing where they live. We have heard of a few cases where buyers have gone back months and months after purchasing a used car (nearly a year in one case) and threatening the seller because something went wrong.
See if you can setup an inspection for a time in the morning rather than later in the day – This is definitely not necessary and it does depend on you and the seller’s schedule, but inspecting a used car in the morning can be a good idea as it gives the seller less time to hide any potential issues by warming up the engine or cleaning the car prior to your arrival.
Ask the seller not to drive their Kia Stinger before your arrival –As mentioned above a warm engine can mask potential issues, so ask the seller not to turn on their Stinger prior to your arrival if possible. Additionally, when you do start an inspection, check that the motor is cold and there is no heat radiating off of it. We understand that this may not always be practical, as the seller may need to drive to the inspection point.
Try not to deal a dealer you want to look at a particular car prior to your arrival – If you tell a dealer you want to look at a particular Stinger before going down to the dealership, it can give them more time to hide any potential issues with the car. Just turn up without letting them know, but keep in mind that some dealers may require an appointment, so this may not always be feasible.
Be careful when looking at a Kia Stinger in the rain or if it has just been washed and there is still water on it – Water can mask potential bodywork and paint issues, which impact the value of the car and be difficult to fix. We recommend taking a second look at the Stinger before making a decision if it is raining during the initial inspection or test drive or if there is still water on the bodywork after it has been washed.
Try to get the seller to move the Kia Stinger outside into direct sunlight if it’s being kept indoors in a garage or showroom – The reason for this is that indoor lighting can conceal defects that may have been visible in natural sunlight.
Buying a Kia Stinger with Serious Problems
It is generally not good idea to buy a Stinger with serious issues, especially as these cars are still quite new at the time of writing this guide. There are plenty of good examples out there and even if you can get a Kia Stinger with serious issues at a great price, it’s still often more financially sound to opt for a car in better condition.
Minor issues, such as small scratches, worn trim, etc. are common and shouldn’t turn you off a Stinger (but remember to use them to your advantage when discussing the car’s price).
When you do inspect a used Kia Stinger, try to identify as many issues as possible and make a note of them. We recommend that you then do a search to see what the estimated cost of repair for each of them may be, especially anything that seems like it could be quite expensive (transmission, etc.). Keep in mind that the problems you find may be more extensive and costly to repair than initially thought, so it can be wise to add a bit more to any quote you receive.
What’s a Good Price for a Kia Stinger?
In truth, we can’t give you an exact figure of what you should expect to pay for a Kia Stinger. This is because the price of a particular Stinger will depend on a whole load of different factors from the condition of the car, mileage, service history, what model it is and much more.
For example, a top-end GT2 in excellent condition will likely command a higher price than a high-mileage first-year base model Stinger that has the 2.0-litre engine.
Another thing to keep in mind is that where you buy the Stinger will have an impact on the price. A Stinger being sold at an official Kia dealer with a warranty is going to be more pricey than one that is being sold at a third-party dealer or a private seller.
As it is difficult to provide an exact figure for what you should expect to pay for a Kia Stinger, we recommend that you use auction and dealer sites as a rough guide. It can also a good idea to add some extra funds to your car buying budget to account for any unexpected expenses that may occur after you purchase the Stinger.
Where is the Best Place to Buy a Kia Stinger
Dealerships and classified or auction sites such as eBay, Autotrader, and Craigslist are going to be your first places you will want to look. It is also worth checking out social media groups or dedicated Kia or Stinger clubs in your area. These groups often have knowledgeable and enthusiastic members who take good care of their vehicles, making them a great resource for finding a well-maintained Stinger.
Here’s a small selection of Kia Stinger groups and clubs that we think you should check out and possibly even join if you do buy one.
- Stinger Forum – This is arguably one of the biggest online clubs/forums dedicated to the Stinger and it has a good number of very knowledgeable owners who dish out some excellent advice. The forum is the main part of the site, but they also have a classifieds section where you can search for Stingers and Stinger parts for sale. The forum also has region specific sections like “Stingers Down Under” which focuses on Australian owners, so if you need some advice from a local owner this is a handy place to go.
- Kia Owners Club – This is a good club for United Kingdom based Kia owners to check out. The forum is dedicated to all Kia cars, but there is a quite active section for the Stinger which you can view here. The “Marketplace” section tends to be more for parts, but cars do regularly appear as well.
- Kia Stinger Owners Group – This is one of the largest Facebook groups for the Stinger and is based out of the United States. They do have a classifieds page dedicated for personal sales as well. This Facebook group is run by the K8 Stinger Store.
- Kia Stinger Owners/Kiastinger.org – This forum doesn’t seem to be quite as active as the Stinger Forum, but there are quite a few users and they also have a Facebook group here.
- r/KiaStinger and r/StingerGT – These two subreddits are worth checking out. While you probably won’t find a car for sale here, it is still worth asking as somebody may have one for sale. There are also a load of great threads on these subreddits as well that cover various topics about the Stinger.
The groups and clubs listed above are just a taste of what is out there, so we suggest you do a search to see what is in your local area. While you are probably more likely to buy from an auction site or dealer, clubs are definitely worth checking out, especially if you need some extra advice.
Overall, dealerships and classified/auction sites can be great places to start your search for a Kia Stinger, but don’t forget to check out any Kia or Stinger clubs in your area as well. These groups can be a valuable resource for finding a well-maintained car and connecting with other enthusiastic owners.
Kia Stinger GT Models Explained
Kia created a whole load of different trim options for the 3.3-litre twin turbocharged version of the Stinger, which can make things a bit confusing when looking to buy one. In short, the top of the line model with all the bells and whistles is the GT2 model, with the GT1 coming in the middle and the GT/GT-Line coming in at the bottom of the range. We have included a short description of each model variation below:
GT – Base 3.3-litre car with the following main features:
- 7-inch touchscreen for the infotainment system (later upgraded to 10.25-inch)
- 9-speaker Kia sound system
- 3.5-inch LCD display for the instrument panel (later upgraded to 4.2-inch)
- Leather-trimmed seats. Driver’s seat is 12-way power-adjustable, while the passenger seat is 8-way power-adjustable
- Limited-slip differential is optional (from 2019 it was standard on all models)
- Advanced driver assistance features such as Collision Warning and Lange Change Assist are optional
GT1 – Middle tier with the following main features:
- 8-inch touchscreen for the infotainment system (later upgraded to 10.25-inch)
- Harman/Kardon 15-speaker Sound System
- 7-inch LCD display for the instrument panel
- Leather-trimmed seats. Driver’s seat is 12-way power-adjustable, while the passenger seat is 8-way power-adjustable
- Memory seats
- Ventilated front seats
- 19-inch wheels as standard
- Limited-slip differential is optional (from 2019 it was standard on all models)
- Advanced driver assistance features such as Collision Warning and Lange Change Assist are optional
- Power tilt and telescopic steering wheel
- Electronically controlled suspension as standard
Note: for the 2022 model onwards, the GT1 was stripped of many of the features that it shared with the GT2. So essentially, the 2018 to 2021 GT1 and GT2 are very similar, while for 2022 onwards there is a much bigger difference. We have listed the features that the 2022 GT1 lost below:
- Harman/Kardon 15-speaker Sound System
- Power tilt and telescopic steering wheel
- Memory seats
- Ventilated front seats
GT2 – The GT2 is the top of the line model with all the best features:
- 8-inch touchscreen for the infotainment system (later upgraded to 10.25-inch)
- Harman/Kardon 15-speaker Sound System
- 7-inch LCD display for the instrument panel
- Quilted Nappa leather seats. Driver’s seat is 16-way power-adjustable, while the passenger seat is 12-way power-adjustable
- Memory seats
- Ventilated front seats
- Limited-slip differential as standard (from 2019 it was standard on all models)
- Advanced driver assistance features such as Collision Warning, Lane Change Assist and Driver Attention warming are included as standard
- 360-degree camera system for easier parking on 2019 onwards models
- Power tilt and telescopic steering wheel
- 19-inch wheels as standard
- Heated rear seats
- Heads-up display
- Electronically controlled suspension as standard
- Upgraded LED headlights
- Auto-dimming mirrors
GTS – This model was essentially the track-day orientated version of the Stinger and was priced in-between the GT and GT1 in most markets (starting around US$47,395 at launch, so closer to the GT1). It shares many of the same features as the base GT, but with some extra and unique ones like the following:
- Revised D-AWD system (The “D” stands for “dynamic” according to Kia) – only AWD model to feature a limited-slip differential
- Limited-slip differential as standard
- 8-inch touchscreen for the infotainment system (later upgraded to 10.25-inch)
- Alcantara steering wheel and arm rest
- Carbon-fibre inserts
- Harman/Kardon 15-speaker Sound System
What’s the GT-Line Stinger?
The GT-Line Stinger features the 2.5-litre engine that Kia introduced for the 2020 model year. It shares many of the same features as the base GT, but came with smaller, less powerful brakes due to the lower weight and lower power output of the engine. The GT-Line was never available with options like the limited-slip differential and electronically controllable suspension (at least from what we know).
Checking the VIN
It is always a good idea to inspect the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) or chassis number of any used Stinger you go to look at. The VIN can tell you information about the Kia Stinger you are looking at, such as its model, whether or not it is rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive, its engine, and more. The VIN can be found in the following locations on a Kia Stinger:
- Under the driver or passenger seat – Lift the cover to see it
- On a plate attached to the top of the dashboard – You should be able to see this if you look though the front windscreen from the outside
- Driver’s side pillar
We recommend that you check the VIN on a decoder site or service to see what comes up. However, keep in mind that these services are not always accurate. For instance, we have seen a number of reports of AWD Stinger owners stating that a VIN check shows their car as rear-wheel drive when it is not.
Another thing to keep in mind is that these VIN checker sites and services may be able to tell you if a vehicle has been “written off” at some point. If it has the car may have been in an accident or had some other sort of issue in the past.
How to Find a Kia Stinger’s Model Year?
If you want to double check the model year on the Stinger you are interested in, you can check the tenth character of the VIN. We have listed what the tenth character can indicate below:
- J = 2018
- K = 2019
- L = 2020
- M = 2021
- N = 2022
- P = 2023
Note, the above years are for the model year and not the production year. If you want to find out the production year/month, some owners have had luck using Kia’s Global Service Way portal which you can find here.
If you are looking at a 2018 model, we would try to find out the production date as ones produced in 2017 tend to have more issues (although, most of these have been fixed under warranty by now).
The different engines fitted to the 2018 to 2023 Kia Stinger seem to be pretty reliable if they are maintained well. However, like with any motor, if they have been looked after poorly they can cause issues and repairs can be quite expensive on these cars. As this is the case, we would be very cautious of any Stinger with a lacklustre service history, but we don’t think this will be too much of an issue given that most of these cars are still under Kia’s free service schedule for new cars (this will change over the coming years as these cars age though). One thing to keep in mind is that service records may only be in Kia’s database, but the seller should be able to get them for you.
Starting Your Engine Inspection
Begin by opening the hood/bonnet. Check that it opens smoothly and that the struts to hold it up are operating as they should. Another thing to do is to examine the catch and hinges for any signs that they have been replaced, as this could indicate previous accident damage or some sort of the other issue.
It is also a good idea to check how clean the engine bay is. A really dirty engine bay could be a sign that the Kia Stinger has been neglected, but don’t be swayed by a spotless appearance, as the owner could have washed it to hide a problem such as an oil leak.
Checking the Fluids
One of the most important things you can do when conducting an inspection of a used car is to check the engine oil and other fluids around the engine bay. This is because they can give you valuable insights into the current health of the vehicle and whether or not it has been maintained well.
If you notice black sludge in the engine oil, it indicates that the oil probably hasn’t been changed in a while. Sludge build-up can be bad for any engine, but it is particularly worrisome on high performance and turbocharged engines such as the ones used in the Kia Stinger. Another thing to keep an eye out for are any metallic particles or grit, which could point to a more serious problem, such as bearing failure. However, they can also be the result of something like an engine rebuild as well, so keep that in mind.
Don’t forget to check for any foamy, frothy, or milky-looking oil, as these sorts of problems could indicate something like overfilling, condensation in the oil, or more seriously a blown head gasket.
One thing that can be a good idea is to have the oil analysed before purchasing handing over any cash for the vehicle. This can help you determine if there are any unwanted particles in the oil or if the vehicle needs more frequent oil changes to maintain its optimal health. This is definitely not something you have to do, but if you are looking for the best example possible it may be worth it.
How Often Does a 2017 to 2023 Kia Stinger Need to Be Serviced?
Depending on what region you are in and what model you are looking at, this can change. Generally, for 3.3-litre twin-turbocharged models the engine oil, filter, etc. should be replaced every 10,000 km (roughly 6,000 miles) or every 6 – 12 months. Under severe driving conditions, Kia states that servicing should be a bit more frequent at around 5,000 km (3,000 miles) or 6 months if that mileage isn’t reached. In China, the “Severe Usage” conditions require an even shorter service interval at every 3 months, which does seem rather frequent to us.
The 2.0-litre Theta II engine shares the same service interval as the 3.3 V6 in most markets, so if you are looking at a 2.0 Stinger use the information provided above.
For diesel models the service schedule is a bit longer. In some markets Kia states that it should be every 20,000 km (13,000 miles) for diesel Stingers and in others they state it should be every 16,000 km (10,000 miles) – every 12 months for all markets if that mileage isn’t reached. Under severe usage conditions, Kia recommends doing a service on diesel models every 7,500 km (5,000) in countries like New Zealand, Australia, and South Africa. For other markets this service interval is reduced to 5,000 km (3,000 miles). All markets should have the oil and filter replaced at 6 months for severe driving conditions.
Check to make sure the above service intervals have been followed on the Stinger you are looking at. Once again, we don’t think this will be too much of a problem at the moment, but it may become more of an issue as these cars age and drop out of Kia’s new car service program.
Oil Leaks from a Kia Stinger
We wouldn’t be too concerned about oil leaks, but it is still important to check for them. Here are some ones to watch out for.
Leak from the rear of the engine
A number of Stinger owners with the 3.3-litre motor have reported leaks at the rear of the engine where it meets the transmission. This sort of problem can be caused by a leak at the rear main seal, another seal at the rear of the engine (gallery plug, etc.), or some other sort of issue such as a leak from the transmission (more on that in the transmission section). If you do notice this problem we would definitely be cautious as it could require the removal of the engine and transmission to fix, which makes the job incredibly expensive. While it could be a simple fix as well (some have found it is just another seal that isn’t seated correctly and can be fixed and/or it may be covered under warranty, we wouldn’t take the risk and would pass on the vehicle.
This doesn’t seem to be much of a problem at the moment on any of the versions of the Stinger, but it is something we always recommend that you watch out for on any internal combustion engined car. This is because timing cover leaks can often become more of an issue as a car ages due to gasket degradation.
Does the Kia Stinger Have a Timing Chain or Belt?
All of the engines fitted to the Kia Stinger are driven by a timing chain and not a belt. This means that you don’t have to worry about changing them at a specified interval. While a timing chain should last the lifetime of an engine, they can fail eventually, so be on the lookout for the following symptoms:
- Strange rattle or ticking sound that changes with the engine speed
- Misfiring and general rough running
- Engine warning light/message
- Hesitation when accelerating (often a sign of a stretched timing chain)
A lot of the time, timing chain issues aren’t actually caused by the chain itself, but rather the tensioners. Another thing to be aware of is that poor maintenance and a lack of oil is more likely to result in timing chain problems down the track.
Fixing problems with the timing components will usually be expensive. While we haven’t heard of any reports of problems from Kia Stinger owners about timing chain/tensioner issues, it is another thing that you should be on the lookout for. It is also another problem that could become more frequent as these cars age as well, so while it might not be a problem now, it may be in 10 or 20 years time.
Tapping/Ticking Noise – Fuel Pump, Lifters and More
If you notice a loud tapping or ticking sound like in the video below it is probably the high-pressure fuel pump (specifically the solenoid in the pump). It isn’t a problem and many other cars with direct injection share the issue. The sound should largely go away once the engine is warm or after giving the car a few revs. However, it is perfectly normal for a slight ticking noise to persist.
It is extremely important that you make sure the cooling system is working correctly on any Kia Stinger you go to look at. A problem with the cooling system can lead to some serious damage and resultant repair bills if you don’t get onto it quickly.
It can be a good idea to check the condition of the coolant. The standard Stinger tank is somewhat transparent so you should be able to get of a bit of an idea about the condition of the coolant by looking from the outside. You can also open the tank lid/cap and look inside, but make sure you only do this when the engine is cold and remove the lid slowly (once again, do not do this when the engine is warm and/or running!). When checking the coolant, make sure it is not brown or muddy in colour.
There is quite a lot of confusion about what coolant to use in a Stinger as Kia has been pretty bad at specifying what the requirements for coolant are (not just for the Stinger). While most Kia’s tend to come with pink coolant from the factory at the time of writing, green, blue, and other colours have been used as well (green was used for Stingers before 2020 I believe). The correct Kia pink coolant has the part number UM020-CH263 and it is a 50/50 mix. If you do buy a Stinger and you want to do a coolant change/flush, we would purchase the coolant from Kia just to make sure it is the correct one (make sure you don’t mix different coolants as well).
Coolant Level and Leaks
There have been quite a few reports of low coolant level from Stinger owners, so make sure it is between the “L” and “F” indicators on the tank. Some owners believe that this is because the Stinger seems to be particularly prone to venting coolant vapours after shut off. However, low coolant could also be a sign of a leak.
The coolant lines are probably the most likely cause of a leak as they tend to be very brittle, so inspect as many of them as you can (this can be difficult as a lot of them are located at the back of the engine on the Lambda power unit). Leaks due to brittle hoses will only become more of an issue with age, so keep that in mind. The coolant tank is another thing to check for leaks, and components like the water pump, radiator, etc. can leak as well.
Look for leaks before and after taking the Kia Stinger for a test drive. Once you have gone out on a test drive, let the vehicle sit for 10-15 minutes before rechecking for any coolant leaks (other fluid leaks as well). Even if you don’t see any leaks, watch out for a sweet aroma as this could indicate a leak somewhere in the system. If you do notice any leaks or that the coolant level is too low, we would be cautious as the Stinger may have overheated at some point.
Look for Air Bubbles in the Coolant
While inspecting the coolant level, check for any bubbles in the coolant itself. It is fairly typical to observe some bubbles during engine warm-up, but once the motor is up to temperature there really shouldn’t be any bubbles at all. Bubbles can indicate air the cooling system, which can lead to reduced cooling performance and overheating.
If you do notice bubbles, it could be down to anything from a bad bleed, a faulty radiator cap, a blown head gasket and much more.
Remember, if you do want to look in the expansion tank for bubbles it should only be done when the engine is cool and is not running.
Another thing to watch out for is if the coolant level goes over the “F” mark on the tank after a test drive as this can indicate air in the system. This has been reported by a number of owners and is usually down to a bad bleed (the Stinger’s cooling system is reportedly a right pain to bleed and even some dealers have trouble with it).
A failed/warped thermostat is quite a common problem on Hyundai and Kia engines, especially the 3.3-litre Lambda II. The most common symptom is usually overheating, so check for any warning lights on the dash and make sure you go out for a good length test drive.
Other signs of this sort of problem include a radiator coolant cap that is cold to the touch, coolant lines that are cold to the touch, cold air from the fan, and a lack of coolant flow. These sorts of issues could also be caused by something like a bad water pump as well.
Sometimes a bad thermostat won’t cause overheating, but will make the temperature gauge behave erratically. If this is the case the gauge will often read cooler than it should or it may even bounce around a bit).
Replacing the thermostat is surprisingly expensive (usually around US$200 or more) as it is part of an assembly.
Check the Heater
It is a good idea to check that the heater is working correctly as an issue here could be a sign of a problem with the cooling system. Common causes of heater issues include the following:
- Clogged heater core – If the heater core is clogged it will restrict coolant flow and the heaters won’t work properly.
- Bad thermostat – A bad thermostat will restrict or limit the flow of coolant, which will prevent heat from reaching the cabin and passengers. As we mentioned above, the thermostats on Kia Stingers don’t seem to be the most reliable, so this could definitely be a cause of the lack of heat.
- Failed water pump – If the water pump is not working, coolant won’t be circulated through the system and the heaters won’t work. Other signs of a failed water pump include strange whining/chuffing sounds, knocking noises, coolant leaks, overheating, and possibly even smoke or steam.
- Low coolant – If there isn’t enough coolant insufficient heat transfer will occur, so the heater won’t work properly or at all. This is probably the easiest one to check as you can inspect the coolant reservoir tank. Additionally, as we mentioned above, quite a few owners have experienced issues with low coolant on Kia Stingers, so this is definitely one to watch out for if you notice a problem.
- Stuck blend doors – If the blend doors are stuck in the cold position no warm air will reach the cabin.
Head Gasket/Cooling System Failure
We have heard of a couple of people experiencing head gasket failure with their Kia Stingers, despite even the oldest ones still being relatively new cars. If the head gasket has failed or there is some other major cooling system failure you may notice the following symptoms:
- Noticeable white smoke from the exhaust pipe
- Sweet smelling exhaust fumes
- Overheating engine
- Bubbles in the coolant or expansion tank
- White, milky oil
- Reduced engine power
- Fouled spark plugs
- Signs of low cooling system integrity
- Presence of a coolant smell from the oil
- Steam coming from the front of the Kia Stinger
If you suspect that the head gasket has gone move onto another Kia Stinger as there are plenty of good examples out there and its not worth your time or trouble fixing a very bad one.
Fuel Pump Issues
During a test drive, watch out for any stuttering or cutting out during acceleration as this could be a sign that the fuel pump is failing (usually the high pressure one). This doesn’t seem like it is too common a problem, but it is something to be aware of as replacing either fuel pump will be expensive.
Another thing to keep in mind is that there was a recall for 2020 to 2021 Kia Stingers as it was found that some cars were experiencing sudden loss of power due to a discontinuation of fuel caused by plastic debris in the fuel pump. This problem should have been fixed on all affected cars, but it is worth checking that the work was carried out if you do notice a problem.
The stock exhaust system on any of the versions of the Kia Stinger shouldn’t cause you too many issues, but its still a good idea to inspect them closely for any damage, modifications, etc.
Unusual sounds, such as rumbling, scraping, rattling, ticking, or whistling can be a sign of an exhaust leak, especially if they change with the car’s engine speed. Check that the exhaust is securely fastened as if it moves excessively, it could indicate that the mounts are in a bad way.
Catalytic Converter (CAT)
We wouldn’t expect CAT failure to be a problem with Kia Stingers at the moment, but it will become more of an issue with age and mileage, so we have included some things to watch out for below:
- CEL (Check Engine Light)/warnings/fault codes
- Smell of sulphur or rotten eggs from the exhaust
- Reduced acceleration and sluggish engine performance
- Excessive heat under the Kia Stinger
- Dark smoke from the car’s exhaust
- Emission test failure – obviously going to need to get a test done to find this out or use the emissions test feature on your OBD2 scanner if you have one
Checking the fault codes are probably going to be your best method of determining whether or not the CAT has failed. This is why we suggest that you get yourself an OBD2 scanner and take it to any inspection of a relatively modern car (the OBD2 standard was implemented at different times for different markets).
Replacing the CATs can be extremely expensive, so if you do suspect there is a problem we would probably walk away.
Aftermarket Exhaust Problems
A number of owners with aftermarket primary downpipes have complained about excess smoke from the exhaust when at WOT (Wide Open Throttle). The excess smoke is usually caused by oil seeping into the exhaust as a result of reduced backpressure from the new exhaust system (the turbo seals rely on a bit of pressure to seal correctly).
Another thing to keep in mind with exhaust modifications is that a tune often needs to be done to get the most out of them, so make sure this has been done. For example, if back pressure has been reduced by removing or changing the stock mufflers, primaries, etc., the ECU will usually compensate and you won’t get any benefits. In fact, the car may even go into limp mode if adjustments are not made after fitting a new exhaust system.
Lastly, we aren’t going to talk about the best exhaust systems for the different versions of the Stinger as there are loads of differing opinions and options available. However, we do recommend that you try to find out what brand/builder the exhaust is, and what parts have been replaced. A badly reviewed or unsuitable exhaust system is more likely to cause issues and shows that the owner has probably cheaped out on modifications.
What is the Correct Idle Speed for a Kia Stinger?
The 2.0, 2.5 and 3.3-litre engines fitted to the Kia Stinger should all idle around the 600 – 800 rpm mark. Expect the idle speed to be a bit higher when the engine is first started and the 3.3-litre motor likes to run a bit rough when it is cold (almost sounds like the car is sputtering/misfiring), but it should smooth out as it heats up.
If the Stinger’s idle or general running is still rough after it warms up it could be down to a whole load of different things from spark plug issues, bad injectors, and much more. It’s unlikely that a brief inspection will reveal the root cause of the rough running. However, in this situation we generally feel that if the problem was easily fixable, the owner would have probably resolved it before listing their Stinger for sale.
Bad Engine Mounts
Failing/failed engine mounts are a possibility, especially on higher mileage Stingers, so keep an eye out for the following symptoms:
- Engine movement – Check to see if there is any excessive movement when revving the engine (this is where a helper can come in handy)
- Excessive vibrations/shaking – Typically, excessive vibrations from bad mounts are usually most noticeable during idle. If the shaking is really bad, the car’s body may even shake.
- Clunking, banging or other impact sounds (especially during shifts) – Noises such as these may be a sign that the engine is shifting slightly due to a failing or failed engine mount.
Installing new engine mounts isn’t usually too expensive, but keep in mind the symptoms above could also be a sign of another issue such as bad injectors, worn transmission mounts, etc.
Test the Air Con/Climate Control
Make sure that plenty of cold air comes out of the vents when the air conditioning is set to the lowest setting. When you do this, make sure that the auto temp setting is turned off (however, remember to check that the auto setting works as well). If the A/C feels very weak or no cold air comes out at all, don’t let the seller convince you that it just needs a regas/recharge. While that could be the case, it could also be a much more expensive problem such as a serious refrigerant leak, a failed/failed compressor, and much more.
it could be down to a number of things from a refrigerant leak, bad compressor or relay, and much more. Don’t let the seller convince you that the A/C system just needs a regas/recharge. While it could be
Turbo Failure on a 2018 to 2023 Kia Stinger
A few owners have reported turbo failure on these cars, particularly the driver’s side one on the 3.3-litre twin-turbo. The problem doesn’t seem to be any more common than on most other newish cars, but it is something to be aware of as replacing the bad turbo will be very expensive out of warranty. Below we have listed some of the more common signs of turbo failure. However, remember that these could also be a sign of another issue altogether:
Strange rumbling, whistling or high-pitched metallic sounds – when the turbocharger is at full boost drive at a slow speed and then accelerate to high rpms while checking for any noises. Most owners who report issues usually find that the weird noises occur from around the 50% throttle mark.
Distinctive blue or grey/whitish smoke – If you are test driving a Kia Stinger and notice a distinctive blue or grayish smoke, it could indicate a crack in the turbocharger housing or worn internal seals. If the smoke is being caused by the turbo it should start to appear when the car comes on boost and the turbos spool up. Whitish smoke can also be a sign of a catastrophic turbo failure, so keep an eye out for that as well.
Burning lots of oil – Assessing the oil consumption during a test drive isn’t something you are probably going to be able to do. However, you can try to gather information from the seller about how much oil their Stinger burns (the engines in these cars aren’t known to burn oil).
Slow acceleration – If you notice that the Stinger you are driving feels particularly slow, especially compared to other Stingers with the same engine, it could be a sign of turbo issues or some other sort of problem.
If the boost pressure comes on late – This sort of ties in with the above. If you notice that the Stinger picks up late than there is probably some sort of turbo issue that needs to be investigated
Malfunction Indicator Lamp (MIL)/Check Engine Warning (CEL) and fault codes – If the Kia Stinger you are looking at has a Check Engine Warning Light or fault codes, it could be due to issues with the turbo. You can use an OBDII scanner to read the codes if you have one on hand. Alternatively, if you don’t have a scanner, take the car to a Kia specialist or mechanic for proper diagnosis.
The issues listed above may also be the result of another problem like a bad turbo hose, so keep that in mind.
Smoke from a Kia Stinger
We talked a little bit about smoke in a couple of sections above, but we will go into more detail here. A lot of smoke or steam from a Stinger (or any car for that matter) is never a good sign and is probably your cue to walk away. Don’t worry about a small amount of vapour from exhaust on startup as this is normally just condensation in the exhaust and it should go away fairly quickly.
We recommend that you get the seller to start their Kia Stinger for you for the first time. This way you can see what comes out the back of the car when it is started and how the seller treats the vehicle. If they rev the nuts off it when it is cold it probably means they haven’t treated the car well. Here are what the different colours of smoke can indicate:
A whole load of white or grey smoke coming from the Stinger’s exhaust, could indicate that water/coolant has entered the cylinders due to a blown or leaking head gasket. To confirm if it’s coolant, watch out for a sweet smell from the exhaust. If the smoke is thick and lingers for a while, it could imply that the block or cylinder head is fractured.
One other thing to keep in mind is that white smoke can also indicate that the turbo seals have worn out/failed.
The presence of this colour smoke could be attributed to various factors, such as worn piston rings, valve seals, turbo problems, and other potential issues. When checking for this sort of smoke it can be handy to have someone follow you while you test drive the Kia Stinger. Alternatively, keep an eye on the rear view mirror or get the seller to drive the car for a bit while you look out the back.
This type of smoke is typically an indicator that the engine is running excessively rich and burning an excessive amount of fuel. A whole load of different factors could be contributing to this problem, from dirty intake components to spark plug problems, injector issues, and much more. If the exhaust has a fuel-like smell, the engine is most likely running too rich.
In addition, if the Kia Stinger has undergone modifications without a proper remap or tune, it can be more susceptible to this problem.
Another thing to keep in mind is that unburnt fuel being sent through the exhaust system can lead to premature catalytic converter failure, which as we discussed already can be an expensive problem.
Buying a Kia Stinger with a Rebuild or Replaced Engine
While we wouldn’t expect to come across many of these cars with a rebuilt or replaced engine given how new they are, it is still a possibility. There is nothing wrong with a Stinger with a rebuilt or replaced engine as long as the work was carried out by a competent Kia specialist or mechanic.
One thing we would try and do is to find out why the rebuild or replacement has occurred. Was it due to some sort of mechanical failure (head gasket, etc.) or was the car in a front end crash where the engine took some serious damage?
We wouldn’t expect to find too many home rebuild jobs (if any), but if you do be very cautious as many home mechanics have more ambition than skill (however, there are some very good ones out there). If the work was done by a business/specialist, find out exactly who did the work and check any reviews (give them a call as well if you are really serious about the car as they may be able to tell you a bit more about it).
Our suggestion is to steer clear of newly rebuilt engines or recently installed engine swaps with only a few hundred miles on them. The reason for this is that a Kia Stinger that has travelled 10,000 km (6,200 miles) since a rebuild is more of a known than one that has only just had work done.
The different versions of the Kia Stinger all came with pretty much the same 8-speed transmission. The 3.3-litre car’s A8R50/A8TR1 unit is a bit stronger, when compared to the A8R40/A8LR1 unit in the other versions of the Stinger, but many of the same quirks and issues are shared between them.
As we mentioned in the engine section, a leak at the rear of the motor could be a sign of a failed rear main seal. However, if you notice red fluid around this area where the transmission and engine meets it is a sign of a transmission leak (transmission fluid also smells different to engine oil). Quite a few owners have reported this issue with Kia even replacing their transmissions under warranty. We would probably walk away from a Stinger that has a transmission oil leak as even if it is a simple seal, these cars are designed in a way where the transmission/engine often needs to be removed to get a proper diagnoses and repair. You can read about one owners experience with the problem here on Kia Stinger Forums.
Another thing to keep an eye out for is any slipping during gear changes and that the auto stop/start works properly and there are no warning lights for it. Apparently the auto stop/start function is related to the oil pump in the transmission and there have been several reports of failures with it. This pump can also cause slipping, particularly between third and fourth as well. Fixing this problem will be extremely expensive if the car is out of warranty, so move onto another Stinger if you notice these symptoms.
Watch out for any loud thudding or thumping sounds when test driving the Kia Stinger, particularly when changing into and out of reverse. Also make sure the car doesn’t jolt or jerk when shifting or pulling away in first/reverse. If you notice any of these sort of symptoms it could be a major problem and the transmission/torque converter will probably need to be replaced. An early warning sign that can often turn into these sort of serious symptoms are rough downshifts, so keep an eye out for that sort of problem as well.
Slightly jerky shifts can also be a sign that the TCU needs to be reset. The transmission in the Stinger is adaptive, so it changes depending on the driving style of the person behind the wheel. Resetting the TCU can be done at any main Kia service centre and is not a problem. Some people find that the jerkiness goes away in “Comfort” and “Eco” model, while others get it in all of the modes.
Clunking sounds when shifting and coming off the throttle could be a sign of engine or transmission mount failure as well. If the transmission mounts have gone you may also notice issues with shifting.
Apart from the above do a general check that the rest of the transmission functions work as intended as once again a problem here is going to be expensive to fix.
According to the Kia service manual there is “no check, no service required” for the transmission. However, the severe maintenance schedule does call for a fluid change at around 100,000 km (60,000 miles). We would probably follow the severe maintenance schedule as we don’t completely trust the idea that a transmission never needs a service. You can watch a good video on the process to replace the transmission fluid on a Kia Stinger below.
The general consensus on the Stinger is that it has quite good traction in slippery conditions, especially the AWD models. If you notice that the car seems to lose traction a lot (and its not because you are giving it a load of throttle), it could be a sign that there is a problem with the differential or something like the traction control unit (if the car is running summer tyres in winter in a place like Canada this will also cause loss of traction as well).
A strange grinding or thudding noise from the back that is often accompanied by vibrations could be a sign that the diff is on its way out. A number of owners have reported this problemand it is usually more noticeable on cold starts and when turning at full lock and/or backing up.
You can do a bit of a test for this problem by driving in a tight figure of eight while giving the car a little bit of throttle. If it makes any whining or grinding noises, if it stutters or vibrates, or if you feel a lot of drag it could be the limited slip differential. You can read a bit more about this problem here.
Kia did issue a TSB (Technical Service Bulletin) for this problem in 2018 that involved them replacing the old oil in the diff with a new formula. This did seem to resolve the problem on a lot of Stingers, but unfortunately there are still quite a few owners reporting this issue, even those with newer Stingers produced well after the TSB was issued (2020 cars, etc.)
If you do suspect that there is something wrong with the differential do not purchase the Stinger as this is an extremely expensive repair if it has to be done out of warranty (thousands of dollars).
Body and Exterior
It is always important to check the body and exterior thoroughly for any issues as a problem here could be seriously expensive to fix.
Accident damage is a crucial factor to consider, particularly for cars like the Kia Stinger, which are designed for enthusiastic driving and tail wagging fun. Here are some warning signs that may suggest the Kia Stinger you are interested in purchasing has experienced collision damage and/or undergone repairs:
- Misaligned panels or large panel gaps – Justified or unjustified, Kias of old had a reputation for poor build quality, but modern ones like the Stinger seem to be put together very well (for the most part). if you notice any misaligned gaps on the Stinger, it may suggest that it has been in a collision. It’s essential to inspect the alignment of the bonnet/hood, doors, bumpers, and boot/trunk for any uneven gaps. Uneven gaps on one side of the vehicle when the other side is nice and even are a good sign of accident damage.
- Doors that drop or don’t close properly – Have a good look at the doors as if they are loose or difficult to open/close, it could be a sign of an accident. Additionally, if the doors drop when opened there is some sort of issue that needs to be investigated further.
- Inconsistencies such as waving, rippling or different coloured panels – There is a good chance that these sorts of problems are due to repairs as quality control at the factory should have picked them up. However, it is also possible that something like a slightly different bumper colour is caused by paint fade. Additionally, dealers sometimes get a respray done at the front if there are a lot of stone chips, so that may be the cause of the inconsistent paint job.
- If the bonnet/hood looks like it is popped when it is not – Even a minor collision can cause this sort of problem.
- Damage to the mounting supports for the headlights or surrounds of the taillights – Repairing the area around the lights and getting it straight can be very difficult, so check them closely.
- Bent or broken parts underneath the car – While checking the underside of the Stinger, make sure that everything is properly aligned. Inspect the suspension, brake and steering components, and if there are any differences between the right and left sides it could be a sign that the Stinger has been in an accident.
- Rust in strange locations – Can be a sign of accident damage.
- Paint runs or overspray – This is unlikely to be a factory issue and is more likely the result of some sort of repair. As we mentioned above, some dealers may perform a respray on the front of the car to address stone chips, which does not necessarily mean that the car has had significant damage.
- Missing badges or trim – Could be due to repair work (body shop couldn’t find replacements) or a number of other things (stolen, etc.).
If you find out the Stinger was involved in an accident, try to determine how severe it was. Minor to moderate damage that was repaired by a skilled body shop/panel beater is usually fine and it can be a great way to get a bit of a discount. However, if the accident was serious and/or the repairs were done poorly we would probably pass on the vehicle.
Most sellers will try to downplay accident damage and watch out for those who try to claim their car hasn’t been in an accident when it clearly has. Alternatively, if the seller can’t provide information about why there is damage and repairs, it is possible that it occurred while somebody else owned the vehicle.
We wouldn’t usually expect to find major rust issues on something as new as a Stinger, but it can occur (see this owners experience), so make sure you check the car thoroughly. Inspect the underside of the Stinger, around the suspension and frame parts, in the wheel wells and around the wheel arches. Also check for rust where there are any stone chips and don’t forget to check all of the main body panels as well.
Factors That Can Make Rust More Likely on a Kia Stinger
- The vehicle has spent time in countries or areas with salted roads (UK, parts of North America, etc.)
- Car has spent time in countries or areas with very harsh winters
- Vehicle is often parked or stored near the sea for prolonged periods
- Always kept outside (never garaged)
- Accident damage (stone chips or more significant damage)
- Rubbing body parts
- Old or no underseal in places where it is needed (parts of North America, etc.)
If you live in a location where rust is a common issue it can be a good idea to ask the seller if the vehicle has been rust proofed. It isn’t really necessary in places that don’t salt their roads and don’t have harsh winters, but it can go along way to preventing/minimising rust in places like the UK and Canada.
Be cautious of black rubber undercoating as rust can often form underneath it. Additionally, some dishonest sellers may apply it prior to sale to conceal existing rust. Oily/wax-based undercoating is a better option as it allows you to see the original condition of the frame.
If you live in a country with salted roads, it can be a good idea to ask the seller about whether they clean the underbody regularly throughout winter. This practice can help prevent the formation of rust on the frame/undercarriage.
Quite a few Stinger owners have reported excessive paint chips and cracking on their cars, especially those with earlier models. There is a massive thread over at Kia Stinger Forums on this problem, with owners of Black, Blue, Yellow, and Ceramic Silver cars reporting the most issues (although, more people may own these colours so keep that in mind). Obviously, the front of the car is where most of the damage is occurring, but a lot of owners have also reported paint chipping/cracking and even bubbling in places where you don’t normally get that sort of problem as well.
Another thing to check is the mouldings on the roof (roof strips) as a lot of owners have found that the paint here cracks and fades. Unfortunately, many of those who have got this problem fixed report that it returns a short while later, but some have been lucky.
Getting these paint issues fixed under warranty is a bit hit and miss, with some owners having luck, while others finding that their Kia dealer basically tells them to get lost.
Suspension and Steering
There isn’t too much to worry about here apart from the usual. Do a check for the following things that could indicate worn or failed suspension/steering components:
- Dipping and swerving when the brakes are applied
- Excessive Rear-end squat during acceleration and rear end wobble over bumps
- Tipping during cornering
- High speed instability or floaty/nervous feeling through the steering wheel
- Delayed or longer stopping distances
- Uneven tyre wear
- Excessive bounce after hitting a bump or when pushing down on the suspension (suspension should only rebound once when pushed down otherwise it may indicate that the shocks are worn)
- Sagging or uneven suspension
- Knocking, clunking or creaking sounds during a test drive – this is usually the shocks, top mounts and or drop links
- Rattles – drive over some bumps – there should be no noise from the suspension components (however, you may hear some rattles from something in the cabin).
- Clicking sounds (especially at full lock)
Don’t forget to visually examine the suspension and steering components. A torch/flashlight and a mirror can be useful tools to have on hand for areas that are hard to see. If you notice that the components on one side of the vehicle are different or seem newer than the other, it may suggest that the vehicle has been in some sort of accident.
If you are looking at a 2020 2.0-litre Stinger, make sure that the recall for the Rack Mounted Motor Driven Power Steering (MDPS) was actioned upon. This recall was issued in July 2020 and the number SC193. The recall was done as some owners experienced steering lock up when driving, a very serious and dangerous problem.
Watch out for an “electronic suspension warning” on Stingers with the electronic suspension system. This is usually just caused by the sensors on the struts and it shouldn’t be too much of an issue to get them replaced. Another sign of this problem is that the ride quality can become incredibly harsh like the suspension is stuck in its stiffest mode.
Check the Wheel Alignment
When conducting a test drive of a Kia Stinger, don’t forget to check the wheel alignment. Drive the car on a flat and straight section of road to see if it veers to the left or right. Improper alignment can lead to excessive tire wear, which can be costly in the long term and can also compromise the driving experience and safety.
Most of the time a simple realignment is all that is needed, however, in some cases bad wheel alignment can be a sign of serious suspension/steering issues or even accident damage.
Have a good look at the wheels as damage here can be a sign of a careless owner and if it is really bad it could be expensive to fix. Minor curb damage is to be expected, unless the Stinger has hardly travelled any distance. Watch out for dents, cracks and buckling as well, as these sorts of problems often require a new wheel.
Aftermarket wheels are okay, but they can affect the car’s handling and ride quality depending on the size. Much bigger wheels are going to be easier to curb and damage, so keep that in mind. If the Stinger you are looking at does have aftermarket wheels, ask the owner to see if they have the originals as they will only add value to the car.
Good tyres can be expensive and to get the best out of a Kia Stinger you are going to want some good ones. Here are some things to watch out for:
- Amount of tread – If there is minimal tread left try to get a discount as you will need to get the tyres replaced in the near future.
- Uneven wear – Wear should be even between the right and left tyres on the Kia Stinger. Additionally, make sure wear is even across the tyre itself.
- Brand – They should be from a good or well-reviewed brand – if they are from a poorly reviewed brand it suggests that the owner has cheaped out on maintenance.
- Same tyre – In terms of tyre make, type and tread pattern on each axle (preferably on all four wheels) – mismatched tyres can lead to poor handling performance, increased wear and may even be dangerous.
- Pressure – It can be a good idea to check tyre pressures when conducting an inspection. If the tyre pressures are wrong it can cause the car to pull to the left or right during acceleration. Incorrect tyre pressures can also lead to increased wear and fuel consumption as well.
This is where the Kia Stinger suffers from arguably its most talked about issue. Early on, there were a lot of complaints of warped rotors that would cause vibrations when braking. Some owners speculated that Kia had cheaped out on the brakes, but it has been confirmed that they are built to Brembo’s specifications. Kia even replaced a number of brake rotors under warranty which fixed the issue and added even more fuel to the fire.
Eventually, it was discovered that the problem isn’t really to do with the rotors, but more so with the pads, specifically deposits from them. These pad deposits cause the rotor to be thicker in some places and thinner in others, which then leads to vibrations when braking that are similar to those of a warped rotor. You can usually remove the deposits yourself by braking very heavily from a high speed. There is a great guide on this problem by Kia Stinger Forum member, thefultonhow, which we suggest that you check out here.
Unfortunately, even if you fix this problem by doing the brake from a high speed trick, it often returns shortly after. This is because Kia used a pretty poor compound for their pads that struggles during aggressive braking (European Stingers received a better compound pad, so this is more for North America).
Because of the pad issues, lots of Stinger owners like to run aftermarket pads, which provide better performance and are less susceptible to the issue. Check with the seller to see what pads are installed on the car and then check reviews of them to make sure they are good (ones from Stoptech, etc. come highly recommended). Another thing to keep in mind is that warped rotors could still be a possibility, its just less of a problem than what owners initially thought.
It is a good idea to test the brakes under both light and heavy braking conditions, at both high and low speeds. The brakes should feel firm and responsive, and any sponginess could be a sign of a problem. Listen for any squealing, rumbling or clunking noises when braking, as this could indicate worn pads or disc issues. Also, ensure the handbrake functions properly and test it on a steep incline if possible.
If you notice that the Stinger pulls to one side or feels like it is dragging, it could be a sign of a seized/stuck caliper. If this has happened the problematic brake may get extremely hot and produce a distinctive acrid smell or even smoke. In some cases, the car may not want to move at all or produce a loud thud-like noise when pulling away.
Just as with the suspension and steering components, it is a good idea to visually inspect as many brake parts as possible. Be sure to check if the pads and discs need replacement soon, and try to negotiate a discount on the Stinger if they do need replacing in the near future.
There are a few things to watch out for here. If you notice a strange thumping or clunking noise from the rear it is probably just a misalignment in the trunk/boot lid. Kia did issue a TSB for this problem as it is a common issue and you can also watch the video below for a guide on how to fix it as well. This problem can be confused with suspension issues at the rear, so keep that in mind.
A creaking noise that sounds like it is coming from the dashboard area could be caused by a few different things with probably the most likely cause being the joint where the windshield frame meets the top of the a-pillar. Another common cause of this problem is the sunroof and a few owners have had parts like the steering shaft and bonnet/hood hinges being the culprit.
Rattles are another common problem on Stingers, with the windows, door panels, sunroof, and trunk/hatch all being likely causes.
Check the seats for any scuffs, tears or stains. The different seat material options seem to be fairly hardwearing, but wear related issues will become more common as these cars age. If the seats move during acceleration or braking it is incredibly dangerous and will be an MOT/WOF failure.
Don’t forget to check for any leaks or signs of dampness in the cabin. Water can cause damage to the electronics and lead to unpleasant odours. If you notice water residue on the bottom of the floor mats, it could be a sign of a past or present leak. Leaks from an unusual place could be a sign of accident damage.
Another thing to do is to pay close attention to the headlining above the driver’s seat. While smoking is less popular than it used to be, if the headlining appears discoloured, it may be an indication that the car has been owned by a smoker.
Electronics & Other Things
Test that the different drive modes work as intended (Sport, Comfort, Eco, etc.). Some owners have reported issues getting into Sport Mode, but this doesn’t seem to be a common problem and the issue often goes away on its own (some find that this happens if there is a CEL/fault codes).
If you are looking at a 2018 to 2021 3.3-litre model, make sure the work for recall SC196 was done (began in November 2020). There was a problem with the fuse kit in the electrical junction box near the Anti-Lock Brake Hydraulic Electronic Control Unit (HECU), which lead to some Stingers catching fire. The problem was serious enough that Kia even asked Stinger owners to park their cars outside and away from buildings until the work could be carried out. All affected Stingers should have received this work, but due to the seriousness of the problem, we would just try and double check.
Another thing to check is the cruise control. A lot of Stinger owners seem to complain about jerky cruise control, especially if the car is in Sport Mode. This seems to be more of a problem when “Smart Cruise Control” is in use and some owners believe it is caused by the front sensor.
Make sure that the owner still possesses the original keys that came with the vehicle when it was new. If they have lost a key, it can be quite expensive to replace it. However, you can also use this to negotiate a better price. Furthermore, even if the owner has the keys, ensure that they function properly.
A lack of warning lights during startup could suggest an issue, so make sure they appear. Conversely, if they continue to stay illuminated, check what they are and investigate further. If you have an OBD2 scanner see if that picks up on any fault codes. If not, do not purchase the car until you can get the codes read by a Kia specialist/service centre.
Apart from the above, do a general check of the electrical components, locks, etc. Make sure the front and back lights work as intended and that there are no problems with the speakers. Check the electrical seat adjustments work as intended as well, as a few owners have complained about issues here.
General Car Buying Advice for a Kia Stinger
How to Get the Best Deal on a Kia Stinger
When considering purchasing a Kia Stinger, whether from a dealership or a private seller, it is important to remember that knowledge is power. Being well-informed about the car buying process can help you save money and make a more informed decision.
Research heavily – Before beginning your search for a Stinger, it’s a good idea to determine your preferred specifications and condition. Are you looking for a low-mileage, recent year GT2, or would you be open to an earlier 2.0-litre model with more miles on it?
Shop around – It is always best to shop around a bit before you make a purchase. Kia sold a reasonable amount of these cars so don’t limit yourself to one seller, dealer, area or auction platform.
Go look at and test drive multiple Kia Stingers if possible – It is a good idea to test drive as many cars as possible This will help you determine what makes a good and what makes a bad Kia Stinger
Adjust your attitude – Avoid impulsive buying decisions when searching for a Kia Stinger. Being in a rush to purchase a car increases the likelihood of getting ripped off. Take your time evaluating potential Stingers and only consider cars that show promise, unless you’re specifically looking for a project vehicle.
Use any issues with the car to your advantage – Pay attention to any issues or wear and tear. Use these problems to negotiate a lower price during the purchase, mentioning specific repairs or replacements that need to be done such as new tyres or brake pads.
Don’t trust the owner completely – It is important to keep in mind that not all sellers are completely honest about the condition of their vehicle. While some may be truthful, others may exaggerate or omit certain issues with their Kia Stinger in order to make a quick sale. It is essential to conduct a thorough inspection of the car and verify the information provided by the owner, rather than relying solely on their word.
Go between sellers/dealers – If you are looking at multiple Kia Stingers, let the owner/seller know. This way they will know that you have other options and they may try to undercut the price.
Be prepared to walk away – If you are not happy with the deal, simply walk away. You may miss out on the car or the seller may get back to you with a better offer.
Mileage vs Condition
When looking at any used car, we always recommend that you prioritise the condition of a vehicle over its mileage. While low mileage is a great selling point and can be good, it can also be a bad thing as well. Short distance trips do not allow the engine to warm up properly, which can lead to increased component wear and reduced engine life.
Additionally, rubber seals and plastic parts will deteriorate over time, regardless of mileage, and cars that are not used regularly may be more susceptible to rust and electronic failures. Therefore, it’s important to thoroughly inspect the vehicle and take its condition into account before making a purchase.
Service History and Other Documentation
It is incredibly important to check any vehicle’s service history and any additional paperwork that goes along with it. While the servicing doesn’t need to be done at a dealer, it should be carried out by a competent Kia specialist or mechanic (especially for major repair work). Home mechanic work is okay, but it is much harder to gauge the competence of a home mechanic than checking reviews for established businesses.
The service history will give you a good idea of how the Kia Stinger you are inspecting has been maintained. In addition to this, receipts and paperwork for modifications (if the car has any) can help you determine whether they have been done by an experienced tuner or a bad one.
If the owner can’t or won’t let you see the service history, you should probably pass on the vehicle. A complete service history will only add value to any vehicle your purchase and will make it easier to sell the car in the future. One thing to keep in mind is that a lot of the time the service history is stored digitally with Kia, which may be why the seller can’t show you it at the time of inspection.
Additionally, you can check websites such as CarFax (USA) and CarJam (NZ) for more information about the car you are thinking of purchasing. These sort of websites can be incredibly useful, but there is usually a cost associated with them.
Questions That You Should Ask the Seller/Owner
- How often do you drive the car?
- When was the last service and who was it serviced by?
- How much oil does it use?
- What oil do you use in the car?
- What parts have been replaced?
- When were the coils, spark plugs, leads changed?
- What’s the compression like?
- What modifications have been made to the vehicle?
- Has the vehicle overheated at any point or has the head gasket failed?
- Has the car been in any major or minor accidents? Is so, what repairs were made?
- Is there any money owing on the car?
- Have you got any information on the previous owners and how they treated the vehicle?
- How are the speakers
- Is there any rust?
- Has rust been removed at any point?
- When were the brake pads replaced and have the calipers seized at any point in time?
- Where do you store/park the car usually?
There are loads more questions you can ask the seller, but we feel these are some of the most important.
Things That Would Make Us Walk Away from a Kia Stinger
Here are some things that would make as walk away from one of these cars. While you may be happy with a vehicle with these problems, we are not.
- Overheating problems or blown head gasket
- Significant Crash Damage or poorly repaired roof
- Money owing on the car
- Modifications with no paperwork or carried out by a poorly reviewed tuner
- Excessive amounts of power
- Bad compression
- Bad resprays
- Significant rust problems
- Engine swaps with non-standard engines
- Significant track use (although tracked cars are often maintained well, so this can be argued the other way)
- Major engine or transmission issues
- Owner who is not forthcoming with information (could be trying to hide something)
Notes on the Owner
The owner is one of the most important things to think about when viewing any vehicle. You need to ask them plenty of questions when inspecting their Kia Stinger (however, don’t trust their answers completely). Remember, it is your problem if you wind up buying an absolute lemon. Here are some things to watch out for.
- How long have they owned the vehicle? If it is less than 6 months it tends to suggest that the car needs major work done to it that they can’t afford. It also could be a sign that they deal cars as well.
- Do they thrash the car when it is cold or continually launch the vehicle? If so, you are better to walk away.
- Why are they selling the vehicle? Could be a genuine reason or they may be trying to offload their problem onto an unsuspecting buyer.
- What sort of area do they live in? Is it a good area or a complete dump?
- How do they respond when you ask them simple questions?
- Do they know anything about the Kia Stinger and the model they are selling (GT vs GT1 vs GT2, etc.)
- What can they tell you about previous owners?
- Do they have lots of cars on their drive? If they do it may mean they are a dealer.
- What is their reaction when you ask them about money owing on the car? Tell them you are going to do a check and see how they respond.
- What is their reaction to you asking for details for HPi check?
- How do they react if you ask to do a compression test on the vehicle?
- How do they respond when you ask them to show you the service history and paperwork for the car?
If you get a bad feeling about the owner, you are better off moving onto another Kia Stinger
Kia Stinger Buyer’s Guide Conclusion
The Kia Stinger is a fantastic car, especially the 3.3-litre twin-turbocharged versions of the car. While there are a few problems to be aware of, the Stinger is generally a pretty robust and reliable machine, and a good one should provide plenty of motoring enjoyment.
We will continue to add info to this guide and if you have any additional information you feel should be included, let us know in the comments below.
Top Gear Team (27/06/2022) – Kia Stinger Review 2023 – Kia Stinger Review 2023 | Top Gear
Evo180x (12/07/2021) – (1) I used to defend the Kia Stinger adamantly, but the Kia dealers have worn me down. : cars – (1) I used to defend the Kia Stinger adamantly, but the Kia dealers have worn me down. : cars (reddit.com)
Vijay Pattni (14/09/2011) – Frankfurt 2011: Kia GT concept revealed – Frankfurt 2011: Kia GT concept revealed | Top Gear
Matt Burt (23/10/2013) – Kia plots GT Concept production – Kia plots GT Concept production | Autocar
Kia Motors New Zealand (14/01/2014) – Kia surprises with a powerful GT4 sports car – Kia surprises with a powerful GT4 sports car · Movement that inspires
Viknesh Vijayenthiran (30/06/2016) – 2018 Kia GT (Stinger) spy shots – 2018 Kia GT (Stinger) spy shots (motorauthority.com)
Viknesh Vijayenthiran (9/06/2016) – Production version of Kia GT concept to be called Stinger? – Production version of Kia GT concept to be called Stinger? (motorauthority.com)
Kia Media (02/10/2017) – Kia Stinger: high-performance gran turismo designed in Europe and honed at the Nürburgring – Kia Stinger: high-performance gran turismo designed in Europe and honed at the Nürburgring
Tamara Warren (10/01/2017) – The Kia Stinger is a sports sedan that sizzles in a sea of practical production cars – The Kia Stinger is a sports sedan that sizzles in a sea of practical production cars – The Verge
HMG Newsroom (09/01/2017) – 2018 Kia Stinger makes world debut at North American International Auto Show – 2018 Kia Stinger makes world debut at North American International Auto Show (hyundaimotorgroup.com)
Kia Media – 2018 Kia Stinger Specifications – 2018 Kia Stinger Specifications (kiamedia.com)
Kia Ken Ganley – 2022 Kia Stinger Specs, Review, Price, & Trims – 2022 Kia Stinger Specs, Review, Price, & Trims | Ken Ganley Kia Mentor
Matt de Prez (07/03/2017) – Kia Stinger unveiled in European spec at Geneva motor show | Manufacturer – Kia Stinger unveiled in European spec at Geneva motor show | Manufacturer (fleetnews.co.uk)
Jake Lingeman (14/08/2020) – Tracking the Changes: 2020 vs 2022 Kia Stinger – Tracking the Changes: 2020 vs 2022 Kia Stinger (autoweek.com)
Will Trinkwon (06/01/2021) – Refreshed Kia Stinger goes on sale from £42,595 – Refreshed Kia Stinger goes on sale from £42,595 | Autocar