Kia Carens: Peculiar steering lock issue despite multiple part changes

After two (under warranty) part-replacements, multiple visits to the service center over the last month, the root cause of this issue is still unknown.

BHPian neeraj08 recently shared this with other enthusiasts.

  • Car – Kia Carens 1.4 Turbo 7DCT
  • Car age – 18 months
  • Mileage – 20k kms

The issue

There’s a warning message popping-up on the MID – “Check steering wheel lock system”. It appears when I unlock the car and open the driver’s door. Then, when I press the Engine Start button, the message pops again and the car doesn’t start. I try turning the steering wheel towards left or right, but it doesn’t help.

First occurrence

July 2022 – I first saw this message in the car when it was 4 months old. The car refused to start while showing this message on the MID. I had to park the car outside over-night and got it towed to the service center in the morning. The service center folks scanned the car and reported some wire to be loose. I got the car back.

Second occurrence

Sept 2022 – I parked the car after a long drive and this message popped-up. The car refused to start again. I spent 10 mins toiling with the steering wheel – moving it right and left while pressing the Engine Start button. Finally got lucky and the car started.

The issue appeared again in a couple of days. I managed to start the car again after toiling with the steering wheel.

I took the car to the service center and explained the issue. But the issue could not be replicated in front of the service center folks. They asked me to leave the car with them as they would need some time to figure out the issue.

Later on, they reported that it is a software issue and the BCM needs to be replaced. The part arrived after 10 days and was replaced under warranty. The service advisor assured that the issue won’t occur again.

Further occurrences

Since April this year, the message is popping-up once a month. I get past this issue by doing hit and trail – moving the steering wheel left and right while pressing the Start button. Sometimes, I got lucky in a couple of minutes, while other times it took like 20mins of constant headbanging.

Recently, the issue has been more prominent and has been occurring 4-5 times a week. I took the car for the 20k service last week and explained the issue to the service center folks. The issue could not be replicated in front of them. I took the car back after the service. Next day the message popped-up again.

My observations

The steering in Hyundai/Kia cars gets locked when we turn off the engine and open the driver’s door. There’s a sound that can be heard when the driver’s door is opened. That sound tells that the steering wheel has been locked normally. [This is based on my limited knowledge that I have gathered from forums and YouTube].
Hence, if this sound of steering wheel is heard while opening the driver’s door, the car starts the next time without any issue. However, if this sound of steering getting locked isn’t heard, the steering lock warning message will pop-up on MID in a few seconds.

I am convinced that this is a hardware issue and not related to the software. Moreover, the issue is severe as it may lead to the car getting stranded out on the road.

I will be taking the car to the service center again hoping this time the video that I recorded will help them understand the issue.

To the forum members – please share your insights or experience, if any, related to this issue.


Here’s what BHPian Shitij had to say on the matter:

I have a Seltos IVT Feb 2021 model and I have been getting this message since about 6 months after the purchase of the vehicle. In my case, it has been always just after turning the car off irrespective of the distance/time driven. It used to come up about once a week at that time but I consulted with the service centre 2-3 times and showed them photos of the warning on the MID. They used to say the same that it was a software issue and they have cleared the fault code.

During the last service in March 2023 I strictly told them to do something about it or I will have to escalate the issue. I don’t think they changed any hardware because neither did they take any approval nor informed me of any part change under warranty but since then I haven’t got any warning.

One difference between your issue and mine is that I faced no starting or steering issue. This warning came on the MID after turning off the car for 5 seconds and went away and the car starts normally the next time.

Here’s what BHPian Knight_Rider had to say on the matter:

Please see if there is a recall for your batch, you can try Facebook or telegram group to ask owners of vehicle from similar manufacturing months.

Issue with Kia is that they will not do any mass recall or issue notification, I had a steering noise sound in my 2022 seltos IVT and the steering motor was replaced within warranty. The staff mentioned the issue is due to faulty component however Kia will only change these for vehicle owners who are raising a complaint.

I also got this message once while switching off the car. One point was that the steering was not centered however it went away after the car was restarted.

Try take it to a different dealer too, not sure about your location but i found the dealership in Kerala much better than Bangalore.

Here’s what BHPiab car_dent had to say on the matter:

In Cars with Push Button start system, there is a SMK Module (Smart Key Module) which controls the Ignition. Steering lock in such cars is also motorised and is controlled by SMK. If there is a problem with SMK or Steering Lock, you will get an error and car wouldnt start.

We had a smiliar problem recently in our 2014 grand i10. Since it was out of warranty, instead of replacing SMK , we got it repaired from outside.

You should get it checked from service centre and may need to replace either SMK or Steering Lock.

BHPian Neeraj08 had the following update to share:


I took the car to the service center two weeks ago and luckily was able to replicate the issue in front of the service center team. The SA informed that the Actuator needs to be replaced. They ordered the same and asked me to wait for some days. He also mentioned that I can use the car till then. Incase the error pops-up, he suggested me to lock the car, wait for some minutes and then try again to turn it on. But in reality, it seldom helped.

Fast forward 12 days, the part (Actuator) arrived and I fixed an appointment at the service center. After the tedious processing of the warranty claim formalities and then the part replacement, the SA took me for the test ride on my car.

While on the test ride, I parked the car on the service road and turned it off. Opened the driver’s door (to engage the steering lock) and locked the car. Few seconds later, I unlocked the car and BAMM! the error popped up on the MID.

The SA (vainly) tinkered with the wires, but the error kept coming up. Since the car had stopped about half a mile away from the service center, the SA called up support to look into the issue.

I discussed the issue with the GM (Service) and asked why’s there a lack of diagnosis and research from the service team. He acknowledged the gap and asked for the car to be kept with them at the service center for at least a couple of days to do a thorough diagnosis. They suspect it to be a wiring issue and the car is at the service center as of now for the checks.

Take-away till now: After two (under warranty) part-replacements, multiple visits to the service center over the last month, the root cause of this issue is still unknown.

Read BHPian comments for more insights and information.

Source: Read Full Article