Here’s Why Your Kia Sorento Won’t Start in the Cold

A faulty battery could be the culprit when your Kia Sorento won’t start in cold weather—but it’s not the only one! Click here to learn more.
Written by Pat Roache
Reviewed by Kaitlin May
A faulty
car battery
is the most common culprit if your Kia Sorento won’t start in the cold, but it could also be an issue with your engine oil, coolant, or fuel lines. No matter what the cause, you’ll need to address it before driving your car—even once things warm up.
The Kia Sorento is a reliable and capable three-row SUV, but all cars are susceptible to trouble when the temperature drops. Ideally, you need your Sorento to beat the snow and ice—not the other way around. To help get you pointed toward the right type of
car repair
, here are some potential causes behind your Kia Sorento stalling in the cold. 

The 5 most common reasons your Kia Sorento won’t start in the cold

1. Dead battery

The problem: Age and temperature have weakened your battery, so it can't start in the cold.
What to do: Perform a jump-start. In worst-case scenarios, you’ll have to replace the battery.
How much it should cost: $0 – $320
Your battery is almost always to blame if your Kia Sorento won’t start in the cold, especially if you’ve had it for a while. Kia batteries typically last four to six years, but as time goes on, your battery loses power that enables it to start in all temperatures. While your battery may have been fine in warm temperatures, it's now too cold for it to work properly.
The best thing to do
if your car battery dies
is to try jump-starting it. All it takes is some jumper cables and the help of a friend or neighbor to get that battery cranking. You can also try checking your battery’s voltage if you have a voltmeter, looking for a reading of 12.4 V or higher. If neither of these works, however, you’re likely due for a new battery.
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2. Weak battery

The problem: Your battery lacks the cold cranking amps (CCA) needed to start in cold temperatures.
What to do: Switch the battery with a replacement that meets your Sorento’s power needs.
How much it should cost: $255 – $320
While your battery may not be dead, it very well may be too weak to get your Sorento started in cold temperatures. Batteries use a measurement of cold cranking amps (CCA) which tells you your battery’s ability to start a car in freezing temperatures. You may have gotten a replacement battery that lacks the CCAs your Sorento needs, or corrosion has weakened your battery over time. 
A good rule of thumb for battery strength is one CCA per cubic inch of
engine displacement
. On most cars, that would be about 250 to 600 CCAs, but the Kia Sorento typically needs a battery with at least 600 CCAs for four-cylinder engine configurations or up to 850 CCAs for older V6 engine options. If your current battery lacks enough cranking power, whether by mistake or wear, you’ll be stuck in the mud (or should we say snow?) until you replace it.

3. Incorrect engine oil

The problem: The engine oil in your Kia is the wrong viscosity grade, making it too thick for your engine to function.
What to do: Drain the current oil and replace it with the manufacturer’s recommendation.
How much it should cost: $35 – $90
Your engine oil changes viscosity at different temperatures, and it’s important to make sure you’re using your manufacturer’s recommended oil viscosity grade to avoid any problems. However, Kia recommends a few different oil types for the Sorento: SAE 5W-20, 5W-30, and 10W-30.
The “W” in these codes designates the viscosity of your engine oil in Winter. The lower the number, the thinner your oil, so a 5W allows for better operation in cold temperatures than a 10W oil. 
SAE 5W-20 is the best option for a Kia Sorento when you live in cold areas. SAE 10W-30 is only recommended if you live in warm areas. If you moved from
in January, you may need to change your Kia’s oil to ensure it runs smoothly. 
Your owner’s manual can tell you exactly which oil type is recommended for your Kia Sorento’s engine. You can also find the instructions to change your oil in the manual if needed.

4. Clogged fuel lines

The problem: Condensation in your fuel lines freezes and causes clogging.
What to do: Pump your fuel lines with a vacuum or plunger.
How much it should cost: $80 – $150 or more
If you’ve ruled out your Kia Sorento’s battery and engine oil and notice that your car’s engine seems to be cranking just fine, you could have a malfunctioning fuel system. Condensation can gather in your gas tank and spread to your fuel line,
fuel filter
, or fuel pump, where it would freeze and clog in colder temperatures. 
A fuel line flush is relatively easy, and you can do it at home with the right tools. However, you’ve got a bigger problem to tackle if frozen condensation damages your filter or pump. A replacement fuel pump can cost around $1,000 for parts and labor.

5. Frozen coolant

The problem: Your engine coolant freezes and can’t keep your engine from overheating.
What to do: Thaw your vehicle’s engine using a fan heater or wait for it to thaw naturally.
How much it should cost: $0
coolant in your car
is responsible for keeping your engine at an optimal operating temperature. While this liquid can handle high temperatures, it doesn’t always do well with low ones. You may not be able to start your engine if the cold freezes your coolant, and even if you can, the frozen coolant could result in an overheating engine
Do not try to drive your Kia Sorento if you suspect your coolant is frozen. Even if you get your SUV started, this could lead to serious (AKA expensive) engine damage. Use a heater to carefully warm your engine’s coolant lines or let it thaw out on its own—and only drive your car once you’re certain your coolant is defrosted.
MORE: Antifreeze vs. coolant: what’s the difference?
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Other causes: bad alternator, faulty starter, or insufficient fuel

While cold weather can easily lead to any of the engine problems mentioned above, it could just be bad timing for car problems that have nothing to do with the temperature.
Here are a few examples of car problems that would keep your Sorento from starting:
  • Faulty alternator: Your alternator is responsible for recharging your car’s battery while the engine is running. A
    bad alternator
    could lead to a dead battery, which would also cause your accessory lights to dim and your dashboard battery light to turn on. 
  • Broken starter: If your Sorento just clicks when you go to start it, you may be dealing with a malfunctioning
    starter motor
    , solenoids, or
    ignition switch
  • Out of gas: Has it been a while since you filled up the tank? Cold weather tends to hit during the busiest seasons and can lower fuel efficiency, so you may just be running low on gas. If that’s not the case, consider checking if fuel is leaking from your gas tank.
  • Dirty spark plugs: You can’t start your car without functioning
    spark plugs
    ! Road salt or muddy slush could be dirtying your Sorento’s plugs and causing them to fail.
  • Dead key fob battery: Your car battery isn’t the only power source you need to be concerned with. Check the battery in your
    key fob
    , too. Your car may not be able to recognize your key if it’s dead, especially if you use remote start.

What to do if your Kia Sorento won’t start in the cold

Waking up to a snowstorm is all fun and games—but not when your Kia fails to start. Before you panic or curse Jack Frost, try some of these tips to get your Sorento working again.

Bring the battery inside

A cold battery is your worst enemy when your car won’t start, so let it warm up for a while. You can disconnect the battery and bring it inside to warm up for a few hours. Then replace it in your Sorento and try starting the car again. Just don’t offer it any hot cocoa while it’s inside! That would probably lead to some more complicated problems.

Turn on accessory mode

If bringing your car battery inside sounds too cumbersome, there may be a simpler way to warm it up. Let your Kia run in accessory mode with the lights and radio on for about 10 minutes. While this might sound counterintuitive, it should give your Sorento time to heat up and prime its systems for some winter driving.

Invest in an engine block heater

If cold temperatures are typical in your area, investing in an engine block heater could be very well worth it. This device plugs in overnight to keep your Sorento’s engine ready for operation after a particularly nippy night, saving you a bunch of headaches—and even helping your winter fuel economy!
"I was nervous to buy insurance for my first car because I had heard horror stories about the insurance prices in New York. After not even two minutes, I found four quotes from
under $125/month. By the end of the night, I was on the road safe and insured!” —Reuben R.
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