Smoke from engine area when driving in 4wd!? - Kia Forum

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post #1 of 17 (permalink) Unread 04-16-2019, 06:44 PM Thread Starter
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Smoke from engine area when driving in 4wd!?

So, new issue now. I had tried engaging 4wd Hi and Lo modes when test driving this Sorento, both modes engaged fine, can hear the transfer case engaging in both modes.

But since I'd read that you shouldn't drive in 4wd with them on tar road, I didn't drive in either mode.

Today I went for a short drive in 4wd hi mode, just at slow speed 30kph in a straight line. Wouldn't have gone 500m before I smelled something cooking. Pulled over and could see smoke cominf from the engine bay. Not thick but noticable, like engine oil burning off a hot engine. Couldn't see where it was coming from under the hood but it seemed to be more to the passenger side of the underside of the engine, could have just been the wind blowing that direction though.

I turned off 4wd Hi and continued on in 2wd, smoke went away immediately.

After I returned home I checked that both 4wd modes are still engaging while stationary. Seems they still engage normally.

Any idea what could be causing this smoke? Obviously something with the front end is getting hot, maybe the transfer case?

As posted in another thread this morning, I'm getting a clunk on stop start which I suspect may be related to the transfer case. So I think the thing might be dry.. I think I will try to drain the fluid soon and replace it.

Any other suggestions would be appreciative though.

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post #2 of 17 (permalink) Unread 04-17-2019, 08:57 AM
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Change the gear oil in the transfer case. It costs about $10 and you'll know if there's a problem with it, because the drained oil will have metal shavings in it. If it does, probably time to get rid of it.. not worth fixing imo. Or maybe the gear oil has never been changed? That could certainly cause it to overheat after 16 years.

I wouldn't pay too much attention to the smoke because it might just be condensation that's turning into steam because it's sitting on something very hot. If it only happens when you switch to 4wd, the transfer case is definitely the thing to focus on. Good luck.
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post #3 of 17 (permalink) Unread 04-17-2019, 11:57 AM
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clutch..reknowned 4 it..they don't like 4 wd..even new clutch i found they didn't like to be in 4wd
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post #4 of 17 (permalink) Unread 04-17-2019, 04:29 PM
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Originally Posted by ZacMonkeys View Post
But since I'd read that you shouldn't drive in 4wd with them on tar road, I didn't drive in either mode.

Today I went for a short drive in 4wd hi mode, just at slow speed 30kph in a straight line.
Not advised, no. However, I used to drive mine in 4Hi on wet Welsh hill roads with no issues. As you have EST (a non-tod) version there is not much in there to cause smoke, unless the internal oil pump has failed and bearings are cooked. By all means change the oil and see what you have. And invest in a magnetic drain plug (now standard replacement from Kia) if not already fitted.

Never heard anyone complain before about clutch and 4wd. (Although the dual mass flywheel is a bit rubbish and can be replaced with a standard type assembly if you look around).


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post #5 of 17 (permalink) Unread 04-17-2019, 05:20 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by compressorman View Post
clutch..reknowned 4 it..they don't like 4 wd..even new clutch i found they didn't like to be in 4wd
I should have mentioned that mine in an auto.

I will change the transfer case oil next week when I have some time and see what the oil looks like. Hoping it is just low on oil and that I don't find metal shaving in it =/

I don't think the smoke is steam either, it was a dry day, hadn't rained in a while, and definitely smelled like hot engine oil.. Is it possible that engaging 4wd is causing oil to leak from the transfer case (or somewhere else) on to the exhaust manifold, when it doesn't seem to leak at all in 2wd?

Another aside with this vehicle. I'm getting absolutely terrible fuel economy, like 20l/100km (city driving, but still). I've changed the oil (full synthetic, 5w30), air filter, checked tyre pressure (tyres are road tyres, not all terrains), given the engine a treatment with intake and valve cleaner, still doesn't seem to have helped much. I drive fairly conservatively, not full grandma but not a leadfoot either.

Is it possible that there are issues with the transfer case that would cause bad fuel economy?

I've read some places that these vehicles can try to automatically engage 4wd due to faults in sensors or issues with the transfer case, which might mean the car is actually sometimes running in 4wd mode if this is happening (although the light doesn't come on).

Does the EST version of the BL Sorento do this, or only the TOD?

I've heard that disconnecting the fuse for the transfer case can disable all 4wd capability, rendering it a 2wd only vehicle, but that might help identify any issues going on with the 4wd system. Thoughts?

Thanks for all your advice everyone =)
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post #6 of 17 (permalink) Unread 04-17-2019, 05:44 PM
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Originally Posted by ZacMonkeys View Post
I've read some places that these vehicles can try to automatically engage 4wd due to faults in sensors or issues with the transfer case, which might mean the car is actually sometimes running in 4wd mode if this is happening (although the light doesn't come on).

Does the EST version of the BL Sorento do this, or only the TOD?

I've heard that disconnecting the fuse for the transfer case can disable all 4wd capability, rendering it a 2wd only vehicle, but that might help identify any issues going on with the 4wd system. Thoughts?
Only the TOD. EST model is either on or off activated by a dog clutch in the transfer case. If you were ok in 2wd I don't think that removing the fuse (no 13 marked TCCS on prefacelift) will help much. You just would not be able to engage 4wd. The fuse trick is really only for TOD.

Re your fuel consumption: I would have thought closer to 10l/100km would be nearer the mark. (Unless its a gas V6.) I wonder if your front axle is engaging/disengaging correctly (It should be disengaged by default).


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Last edited by gee6; 04-17-2019 at 05:46 PM.
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post #7 of 17 (permalink) Unread 04-17-2019, 06:12 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by gee6 View Post
Only the TOD. EST model is either on or off activated by a dog clutch in the transfer case. If you were ok in 2wd I don't think that removing the fuse (no 13 marked TCCS on prefacelift) will help much. You just would not be able to engage 4wd. The fuse trick is really only for TOD.

Re your fuel consumption: I would have thought closer to 10l/100km would be nearer the mark. (Unless its a gas V6.) I wonder if your front axle is engaging/disengaging correctly (It should be disengaged by default).
Good to know about the fuse trick not applying to the EST model, thanks.

So this dog clutch in the transfer case, If it hasn't been activated in a long while could it be seized (or very tight) and hence overheat when engaged, especially if the transfer case is low on oil? I suspect the previous owner of this vehicle has not used 4wd in a very long while, and I also suspect that nothing but the engine oil has been checked or changed in a long time, possibly ever..

I wish I had time today to look into this further, but I'm off for the Easter long weekend (not driving this car, thankfully).

I haven't heard of anyone getting 10l/100km on the 3.5l V6 petrol Sorento, but I have read reports of being able to get around 15l/100km if everything is working correctly with somewhat conservative driving.
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post #8 of 17 (permalink) Unread 04-17-2019, 09:53 PM
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My 03 Sorrie w/3.5 gas got 23 MPG on the highway on long trips.
70 MPH was the norm. Without causing a big ruckus I used the mid grade gas.
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post #9 of 17 (permalink) Unread 04-17-2019, 10:26 PM
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If you smelled burnt oil and it happened after switching to 4wd, I'd say that's the gear oil.

Regarding the poor gas mileage, check your brakes. You might have a siezed pad or a caliper piston has rusted to the point where it's constantly applying some braking pressure.
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post #10 of 17 (permalink) Unread 04-18-2019, 12:00 AM Thread Starter
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By gear oil, do you mean transfer case oil?

I thought it could be the brakes as well, so I have serviced the brakes recently. The rear calipers were a bit tight initially and hard to press out, but I think they are OK now. Maybe I'll take another look at them. The rear pads are due to be replaced soon anyway.
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