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2021 Kia Soul LX
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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hey guys, I'm new to Kia, not new to cars. Just purchased a 2021 Soul LX with the 6 speed, mainly because I didn't want to deal with the CVT (IVT) issues that I've read about in the complaints section on NHTSA.gov. Also, I'm not into turbos and GDI engines that get carbon buildup, but otherwise I love the car so I went with what would or should be the most trouble-free combination, the 2.0L Nu engine (MPI) and the 6 speed manual.

After about 500 or 600 miles or so I started to have trouble shifting. At about 800 miles I took the car back to the sales dealer where they said there's nothing wrong with it.

Now it's got about 1700 miles and today I grinded a gear change (1st to 2nd), first time that happened. What's been happening is, the tranny is very touchy about where (what RPM) and how I shift. It's not just, you push in the clutch, make your change, and release. It's much more than that, it's very moody and if I try to shift in a certain RPM range, it doesn't like it and will feel like I'm grabbing the gear clutchless, doesn't go in smooth, it clunks. Sometimes, when I shift from 1st to 2nd, it won't let go of 1st gear easily, I have to fight it, and getting into 2nd is also a fight (that's how I grinded 2nd gear today). Now if I double clutch it, this doesn't happen but obviously when you're city driving and you double clutch you're just pissing off the person behind you in the automatic when you have to slow down a bit more to allow you time to double clutch. On the highway at high speeds this isn't too much of a problem although it will still clunk a little into gear if the RPMs aren't flat down at rest (about 1100 RPM) or if the RPMs are like at 4000+ it'll shift smooth. Anything in between will clunk or you have to fight to get it into gear, not smooth like on other cars I've driven and I've driven manuals with very high miles that didn't feel like this.

I called Kia corporate today to being some sort of process/open a case, I don't know, maybe a Lemon Law dispute or arbitration or something. I'm having a local mechanic that's worked on my other cars take a look at it tomorrow, he said if he finds something wrong he'll write up a report for me. I'd like to keep the car but if the tranny is FUBAR from the factory, I just don't want it, you know what I mean?

Any ideas of what's going on? Am I not shifting properly? Any input would be greatly appreciated.

**Edit: Forgot to mention, sometimes it feels like the revs hang between changes, the RPMs don't fall like they're supposed to or maybe not fast enough, so don't know if this would affect gear changes, usually as soon as you let off the accelerator the RPMs should start to drop, on my car it floats around a little, almost like the ECU is bypassing the fuel pedal and still applying fuel. Bizarre.
 

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Hey guys, I'm new to Kia, not new to cars. Just purchased a 2021 Soul LX with the 6 speed, mainly because I didn't want to deal with the CVT (IVT) issues that I've read about in the complaints section on NHTSA.gov. Also, I'm not into turbos and GDI engines that get carbon buildup, but otherwise I love the car so I went with what would or should be the most trouble-free combination, the 2.0L Nu engine (MPI) and the 6 speed manual.

After about 500 or 600 miles or so I started to have trouble shifting. At about 800 miles I took the car back to the sales dealer where they said there's nothing wrong with it.

Now it's got about 1700 miles and today I grinded a gear change (1st to 2nd), first time that happened. What's been happening is, the tranny is very touchy about where (what RPM) and how I shift. It's not just, you push in the clutch, make your change, and release. It's much more than that, it's very moody and if I try to shift in a certain RPM range, it doesn't like it and will feel like I'm grabbing the gear clutchless, doesn't go in smooth, it clunks. Sometimes, when I shift from 1st to 2nd, it won't let go of 1st gear easily, I have to fight it, and getting into 2nd is also a fight (that's how I grinded 2nd gear today). Now if I double clutch it, this doesn't happen but obviously when you're city driving and you double clutch you're just pissing off the person behind you in the automatic when you have to slow down a bit more to allow you time to double clutch. On the highway at high speeds this isn't too much of a problem although it will still clunk a little into gear if the RPMs aren't flat down at rest (about 1100 RPM) or if the RPMs are like at 4000+ it'll shift smooth. Anything in between will clunk or you have to fight to get it into gear, not smooth like on other cars I've driven and I've driven manuals with very high miles that didn't feel like this.

I called Kia corporate today to being some sort of process/open a case, I don't know, maybe a Lemon Law dispute or arbitration or something. I'm having a local mechanic that's worked on my other cars take a look at it tomorrow, he said if he finds something wrong he'll write up a report for me. I'd like to keep the car but if the tranny is FUBAR from the factory, I just don't want it, you know what I mean?

Any ideas of what's going on? Am I not shifting properly? Any input would be greatly appreciated.

**Edit: Forgot to mention, sometimes it feels like the revs hang between changes, the RPMs don't fall like they're supposed to or maybe not fast enough, so don't know if this would affect gear changes, usually as soon as you let off the accelerator the RPMs should start to drop, on my car it floats around a little, almost like the ECU is bypassing the fuel pedal and still applying fuel. Bizarre.
Move your seat 1 or 2 clicks closer to the wheel. Make sure the floor mat is not restricting the peddle at full push. Make sure you push down all the way to release the pressure plate when shifting.
I have the 2015 1.6 6 speed. Curious to know if your new Soul has the same.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Move your seat 1 or 2 clicks closer to the wheel. Make sure the floor mat is not restricting the peddle at full push. Make sure you push down all the way to release the pressure plate when shifting.
I have the 2015 1.6 6 speed. Curious to know if your new Soul has the same.
Thank you for your reply, I honestly thought my post had been deleted because after I posted it I couldn't find it.

I'm 6 foot tall, that being said, I have long legs and I have played with the seating position since I bought the car, I usually have to sit more forward to get a good clutch in. I never attempt to shift unless the clutch pedal is fully engaged, if I push it down any harder I'll dent the floor pan. I've come to realize that this gearbox is VERY TOUCHY. Nothing like I've driven before. Going from 1st to 2nd, you have to hit the sweet spot in engine speed, a little too much engine speed and it'll stick in 1st and grind in 2nd, if you try to shift at too slow an engine speed, going into 2nd you'll get a notch feel and when you release the clutch pedal the car will bump because the wheels were moving too slow. It really is insane.

I don't want the car anymore, right now between the move (moving from NJ to SC) and the virus thing, I'm just going to keep the car for the time being, next year I'll trade it in for another manual with a proper gear box. Sorry Kia, I'm not impressed. 😢
 

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Thank you for your reply, I honestly thought my post had been deleted because after I posted it I couldn't find it.

I'm 6 foot tall, that being said, I have long legs and I have played with the seating position since I bought the car, I usually have to sit more forward to get a good clutch in. I never attempt to shift unless the clutch pedal is fully engaged, if I push it down any harder I'll dent the floor pan. I've come to realize that this gearbox is VERY TOUCHY. Nothing like I've driven before. Going from 1st to 2nd, you have to hit the sweet spot in engine speed, a little too much engine speed and it'll stick in 1st and grind in 2nd, if you try to shift at too slow an engine speed, going into 2nd you'll get a notch feel and when you release the clutch pedal the car will bump because the wheels were moving too slow. It really is insane.

I don't want the car anymore, right now between the move (moving from NJ to SC) and the virus thing, I'm just going to keep the car for the time being, next year I'll trade it in for another manual with a proper gear box. Sorry Kia, I'm not impressed. 😢
Strange. Mine shifts just fine - at 1550 miles now. I do find with the fly-by-wire throttle that I occasionally get a hiccup when starting out in 1st, because the revs don't climb immediately on pushing the gas pedal, but that will go away as I stop over-thinking it and get more used to the beast.

Happy with the car - but I feel your pain as that sort of thing can be trying at best.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Strange. Mine shifts just fine - at 1550 miles now. I do find with the fly-by-wire throttle that I occasionally get a hiccup when starting out in 1st, because the revs don't climb immediately on pushing the gas pedal, but that will go away as I stop over-thinking it and get more used to the beast.

Happy with the car - but I feel your pain as that sort of thing can be trying at best.
Thank you for the reply!

Hey, the way I look at it is, the car moves, right?? :ROFLMAO: That's where I'm at right now. And strangely enough, my throttle response is very good, granted it's 100% electronic, I don't have any problems there, aside from the (perceived) occasional rev hang. I've owned many, many used and new cars, so I'm not surprised, just disappointed. I've had new cars with warranty issues right out of the box, and I've had cars that ran 10 years before the check engine light went on and it was for a loose gas cap. So it is what it is.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Is the clutch master cylinder full? Possibly air in the system. Sounds to me like the pressure plate is not fully releasing when you push the clutch in.
Thanks for the reply!

I'll have to check, that's why I brought it to the dealer ( :LOL: ) so they could check that stuff, they didn't check anything. I usually don't do any work on the cars or check anything other than engine oil in the winter months, it's too cold outside and I don't have a garage (yet). It's hydraulic right? So could absolutely have trapped air or the cylinder is just bad. The fact that if I double clutch the up-shifts, a lot of this doesn't happen, is very telling.
 

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2020 Soul LX with 3 pedals!
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when my engine is cold, it does not drop rpm like it does when it is room. Also finding first from neutral is sometimes fun. It prefers to slip into third. I had heard there is no synchronizer for first. But i have never had an issue shifting up or down. Unless i fail to get the rpm right or forget where the friction spot is. (My wife drives my car on occasion and i have yet to figure out a means of getting my seat in exactly the same position as before). What the op describes sounds a lot like air/ moisture in the line or a faulty clutch master cylinder. But I thought the clutch was cable driven, guess i never looked closely.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
when my engine is cold, it does not drop rpm like it does when it is room. Also finding first from neutral is sometimes fun. It prefers to slip into third. I had heard there is no synchronizer for first. But i have never had an issue shifting up or down. Unless i fail to get the rpm right or forget where the friction spot is. (My wife drives my car on occasion and i have yet to figure out a means of getting my seat in exactly the same position as before). What the op describes sounds a lot like air/ moisture in the line or a faulty clutch master cylinder. But I thought the clutch was cable driven, guess i never looked closely.
Thanks for your reply!

When an engine is cold, the RPMs will be higher as the engine is using more fuel and less air to get the engine warmed up faster so the idle is supposed to be higher. You mention "finding first from neutral is sometimes fun." I'm not sure I get what you mean but I don't have a problem finding any gear, aside from the fact I'm having this shifting issue, I have to say the gating on the shifter is pretty damn good, I've yet to mis-shift into the wrong gear. I read the owner's manual in regard to the manual transmission, it says it's "fully synchronized" so I would take it that every gear ratio has a synchronizer ring setup (except reverse of course). Also, this is not a cable driven clutch system, it's hydraulic, I'd venture a guess and say that most modern cars with a manual transmission use hydraulics, but I know that the manual version of my wife's car, it uses a cable because it's so cheap, she drives a 2019 Mitsubishi Mirage with the CVT. But thanks for the suggestions, if I can't reach the master cylinder/reservoir for whatever reason I'll have my local guy who has a shop and lifts look at it for me.
 

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Thanks for your reply!

When an engine is cold, the RPMs will be higher as the engine is using more fuel and less air to get the engine warmed up faster so the idle is supposed to be higher. You mention "finding first from neutral is sometimes fun." I'm not sure I get what you mean but I don't have a problem finding any gear, aside from the fact I'm having this shifting issue, I have to say the gating on the shifter is pretty damn good, I've yet to mis-shift into the wrong gear. I read the owner's manual in regard to the manual transmission, it says it's "fully synchronized" so I would take it that every gear ratio has a synchronizer ring setup (except reverse of course). Also, this is not a cable driven clutch system, it's hydraulic, I'd venture a guess and say that most modern cars with a manual transmission use hydraulics, but I know that the manual version of my wife's car, it uses a cable because it's so cheap, she drives a 2019 Mitsubishi Mirage with the CVT. But thanks for the suggestions, if I can't reach the master cylinder/reservoir for whatever reason I'll have my local guy who has a shop and lifts look at it for me.
when i was younger i would shift into first while coasting to a stop and just leave the clutch pedal depressed until it was time to go. Now that i am older I tend to shift into neutral as a approach the stop. Then i wait until it is time to go before shifting into first. I think doing so limits wear on the throw-out bearing. However when subsequently shifting in to first place sometimes it is as if there is something blocking the gate for first and the stick slides into third. It does not happen all the time just on occasion. I have leaned what it feels like and on the second attempt it usually slides in easily!
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
when i was younger i would shift into first while coasting to a stop and just leave the clutch pedal depressed until it was time to go. Now that i am older I tend to shift into neutral as a approach the stop. Then i wait until it is time to go before shifting into first. I think doing so limits wear on the throw-out bearing. However when subsequently shifting in to first place sometimes it is as if there is something blocking the gate for first and the stick slides into third. It does not happen all the time just on occasion. I have leaned what it feels like and on the second attempt it usually slides in easily!
Yeah, when I learned manual back in... gee must've been like 1999 or thereabouts... I learned on a used Hyundai Excel with like 160k miles I bought for $500. It burned a heck of a lot of oil but the idea was to use it to learn how to operate a manual. I was taught, 1st gear is just to get started, just to get the car moving and you should never shift into 1st while you're moving, maybe if you're crawling at 1mph but ideally you want to be stopped before coming back into 1st gear, I've always coasted to a stop unless the weather conditions require me to downshift to use engine braking, but even engine braking done wrong can send you into a nasty slip if you're moving too fast for the next lower gear. I've never heard of anyone downshifting into 1st gear to be quite honest and I'd like to hear other's perspective on this. I think the reason you're going into 3rd is because the shifter lockout mechanism is preventing you from going into 1st and you're forcing it into 3rd so that you don't ruin your transmission.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Is the clutch master cylinder full? Possibly air in the system. Sounds to me like the pressure plate is not fully releasing when you push the clutch in.
Just checked under the hood, it appears this design uses the same brake fluid reservoir for the clutch fluid (which is FULL), I see a low pressure rubber hose going from the very back/bottom of the reservoir to the clutch cylinder, and then from there I see the skinny high pressure lines that come out but I can't see much else, everything is crammed in there real good, just to get to the clutch cylinder I'd have to remove the battery and looks like some sort of computer/module is right behind the battery so that would have to come out too. I did notice that on one of the high pressure line fittings, it looks a little wet and sticky, and there was a dandelion seed stuck to it like it's wet. But not dripping though. Makes me wonder if there's like a tiny pin hole or stripped threads from factory or something tiny that's letting air in and just seeping out a microscopic amount of fluid.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
When I looked at the Kia Soul 2020 the worse issues I notice were manual transmission & the turbocharge with the 1.6-liter engine. Sounds like you purchased the wrong transmission. Suggest either going to another dealer or call customer service. 2020 Kia Soul Problems, Defects & Complaints (carcomplaints.com)
Thanks for the reply!

When I researched the 2020/2021 Soul the biggest issue I found was the premature failure of the CVT unit, hence why I bought a manual, there aren't very many manuals out there so I didn't see any bad reports on the manual transmission version, there might be but hard to find. I think I just got a bad one. It can happen, it's a mass produced appliance, but what sucks is when a manufacturer doesn't stand behind their product. And they all do it, Toyota, Honda, Nissan, GM, Ford, etc., they all make piles of junk once in a while and they don't stand behind it, it's unfortunate.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
I will say that I have been driving manual shift cars for 40+ years, and it took me a while to get used to the way the Soul drives. After some practice all is good.
Yeah, the gearbox is funky for sure. Add to that tall gear ratios, and it feels like I'm driving a mid-90's Ford Ranger manual, that's the best way to describe it, the gearbox feels dated, like it was taken out of an old truck. I have to drive it with special considerations (like double clutching at certain shifts to make the shift more smooth) not ideal but we're in the middle of a pandemic and I'm also looking to move out of state this year so the car is not on the top of my list but I keep driving it. After we find a house we like, make an offer and complete the closing (talking months from now) I'll consider getting rid of it. Thanks for your post.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
“I think doing so limits wear on the throw-out bearing”.
Crankshaft thrust bearing too.
Looks like we both have the same car (looking at your avatar). I was able to juice up the power a little bit, it drives more fun now, I bought a K&N cold air intake, and reading up on the engine, it has a compression ratio of 12.5:1, so over the winter I was doing some not-too-scientific experiments using the same brand of gas (BP), same gas station even, filling up on regular for a month and then switching to premium for the following month. It definitely moves the spark timing up with the higher octane and I'm squeezing out a few more ponies, yes my overall MPG went from 30-35 to 18-24 but I guess that's the price you pay. The car should have been made this way from the factory 🤓. It probably would have never met CAFE standards. That 2.0L Nu engine can give out power, it's just tuned for MPG, and that gearbox doesn't help, the worst is 1st to 2nd which I managed to grind once or twice, there seems to be a lockout if you rev too high, it'll lock you in the gear and if you manage to get out of 1st you'll grind going into 2nd. Now I know. I read a lot of guys like to start off in 2nd gear. My next project is a class I tow hitch (that's all I found on etrailer, didn't see a class II) and adding the cruise controls to the steering wheel.
 
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