Sunday, May 29, 2011


This is a little bit off from my normal political format, but heck, if I can save someone some grief, money, and frustration, maybe they can focus on other bigger picture issues. The first couple of issues are based on KIA service (or lack thereof) and dishonesty within their sales and service departments. Further down, I will get into the technical/mechanical issues.

My wife and I bought a used 2003 KIA Sedona Mini-van in 2007, and it had just over 40K miles when we bought it. The dealer ranted and raved about this fully loaded vehicle, answered some of our questions, we test-drove it, and sold us on it.

We asked if the dealership provided loaner vehicles if we had to have repairs done, and of course, the answer was a resounding "Yes". When we had to have our first repair done, less than a month after buying it, the service department informed us they could drop us off and pick us up, but they didn't have (nor ever had) a loaner program. We asked our salesman about the discrepancy, and of course he was fully aware that they had no loaner program, and said we must have misunderstood him...

We were also told about their great "KIA Loyalty" program, which was basically up to $4K dollars in discounts/rebates if we were to buy another KIA later on down the road. Salesman specifically stated, in response to my question, that this loyalty program was IN ADDITION to any other factory/dealer rebates already on a vehicle we might consider. We looked into trading our KIA in, about two years after our initial purchase, and looked at another Sedona (before all the repair issues arose). We had the same salesman come help us on the lot, and we inquired about the loyalty bonus on a KIA that had about $4K in rebates from the factory already advertised on the windshield. He told us that there was no loyalty bonus on vehicles that already have factory rebates... I showed him the page I had kept, where he had done some easy math for me back when we first bought our vehicle, where he took a new Sedona at $30K, then subtracted $4K for factory rebates, and another $4K for loyalty rebate, and indicated we could get a $30K vehicle for as low as $22K... he played dumb, and had nothing to say about it, and walked off and left us standing there.

They told us that all used vehicles go through a 200+ point inspection, "the most comprehensive in the industry"...

Of course, a month after we bought the car, we were in under warranty, to have a squealing from the front tires investigated, that only started after we had been driving in town, stop-and-go, for about half an hour. Turns out, there was an active recall on the vehicle, that came up IMMEDIATELY when they ran the VIN number, that was somehow missed... they had to mill down the break calipers or something, because they were too large, and when the brakes got hot from driving around town, the metal expanded and rubbed the wheels...

Next, they informed us, while the vehicle was still in the shop for the above repair, that there was a suspension component that was bent/flexed, too far out of spec... they said it was a known issue with KIA's and that it was not covered under our warranty, but that for just over $50, they could remove it, reverse it, and let it work its way back into spec (sort of like bending a paper clip back and forth, but without the eventual breaking of the part, after too many cyclic flexings, allegedly). Again, this was a month after this vehicle supposedly passed their 200'ish point inspection...

At around 60K miles, the alternator went out... and AGAIN 10K miles later with the replacement.

The headlights were burning out every 2 or 3 months. Turns out, they have an issue, a KNOWN issue, where if you leave your headlights on AUTO instead of manually turning them off and on all the time, and start your car at night, the relay is already closed to the headlights as you turn the car over and draws excessive starting current through the lamps,which results in a much shortened life. We now have to pretend we do not have an AUTO feature for headlights... or pay several hundred dollars for a new relay and to have the computer reflashed, because, of course, this KNOWN issue is still going to make them some money, at the cost of the consumer.

We had to have a new condenser for the air conditioner installed (the old one was leaking, around 60K miles as well). We have had to recharge the freon every year since, and it usually doesn't make it through the 3 months of summer here in Missouri... but they cannot find leaks anywhere, without charging us around $500 for a thorough inspection, and recharge... plus additional costs if they have to replace any other components...

At 67,000 miles, the thermostat went bad, but we didn't have any signs of overheating, steam, water spray, etc... we pulled into the driveway, from some simple around-town driving, and I noticed a small puff of steam under the hood... Popped the hood, and could hear hissing, and see a wet spot. Had the vehicle inspected, and that little failure, somehow resulted in steam cutting of the coolant manifolds on both sides of the vehicle, so had to pay almost $500 for the thermostat, gaskets, and labor.

Our airbag light has been on since about 55K miles and they say it could be anything, but that it would cost several hundred dollars to run a diagnostic, and fix (saying that is based on typical issues, but could be more, could be less).

The drivers door inside handle is broken. The cheap plastic it is made out of, just cracked, and the spring curves out of the hole where the plastic broke off. This was quoted as a $400 fix... for a CHEAP door handle. We live with this now too.

There is massive under-carriage rust, on suspension, body, frame, drive shaft, wheels and exhaust system components. Of course, we were told the famous line of "we'll throw in the under-carriage coating for free!" Has been rusting since the first winter we had it (about 9 months).

The paint on the driver side mirror is peeling. We haven't hit anything, no scratches or rough spots, just about a 3"x 3" area of peeling paint, and getting larger.

For the last 10K miles, our check engine light comes on about every two to three tanks of gas, due to pressure/sealing issues with the gas cap. Pull the cap, clean the gasket, clean the fuel tank fill line that seals against the gas cap, then fill the tank, drive for half a tank and it clears up. About a tank and half later, same issue, rinse, repeat. There is rust forming on the metal sealing surface of the gas tank, that we have to keep removing with a scotch pad (the green scrubby side of sponges).

The KIA wheel caps (the 5'ish inch caps that install on the center of the wheels, to cover the lug nuts) have fallen off two tires while driving (never to be seen again) in the last 10K miles. The first time we checked, this was over $100 to replace each one... we deal with them missing.

The alloy wheels themselves, are chipping/flaking/peeling. The metallic, semi-luster finish is all but gone on them, and leaves them looking very rough and two-toned, with small cracks permeating through the remaining finish on the wheels. This has been happening since the first year we had this vehicle.

The black finish on the front and rear wiper blades is rusting through.

We had an issue with a bell sounding every time we turned right, then when we turned right or left, then eventually, just when we drove straight. There was no warning light or check engine light to indicate what the problem was (it sounded like the door open alarm). Dealer couldn't find the cause. Internet sluthing determined it was an issue with the brake fluid level. The level was fine, halfway between min/max lines, but according to those on the internet, the issue is with a sensor in the brake fluid reservoir, not adjusted properly, so you have to keep it at (or even just above) the max line. Bought some fluid, problem solved. Of course, now we have a possibly over-filled brake fluid reservoir, which is advised against as well... The dealership wanted to charge us again, $200 to troubleshoot the problem.

As of this winter, the rear heater doesn't get hot anymore (just blows cold air in the winter time).

This week, our newest issue... intermittently (meaning sometimes more, sometimes less) our steering got very stiff and difficult to operate, and the steering wheel does not return to center on its own, after turning. Research again, shows this is another KNOWN issue, with KIA's in the "salt belt" states (they list like 10 states on their website, of which MO is one of them). They say this issue arises in over 5% of KIA's in these states, and only 0.5% in non-salt states. The problem appears to be, an exposed universal joint on the steering column, in the engine compartment. It gets caked with salt, ash, and mud, and gradually corrodes, or has that muck fill in the joint and harden. The solution is to replace the steering column intermediate shaft. Of course, this known issue, is again, not worthy of a recall, because its in limited states and only one wreck has been "allegedly" attributed to this issue.

And to sum this up, all the above, contributes to the KIA Sedona mini-van being rated as THE WORST vehicle for retaining resale value, period.

These vans start at $28k, and go over $30k depending on options. We bought ours 4 years old, used, at $14k, figuring the bulk of the depreciation was done... oh no, not at all. We're pushing, at the time of this blog, $3,275 trade in value for "fair" condition (runs decently, some repairable rust, minor cosmetic issues).

That means in the 4 years we've had the car, with LESS than 30,000 miles put on the car in those same 4 years (thats insanely low) we have a car that was worth over 4x what it is now, when we bought it...

So hopefully, I can save a few of you from going through the same issues, both mechanically, aesthetically, electrically, and emotionally, that my wife and I have gone through with this brand of car. I will never buy another KIA, or even a different brand of car from a KIA dealership, EVER again.

Monday, May 23, 2011

How one idiot plans to reduce the deficit...

So the powers-that-be are back in Washington arguing money along party lines as usual...

In the news today:

What really stood out to me in this article, is where one Representative (I'll let you guess which party he represents) feels that, while we are talking about needing $4 TRILLION in spending cuts, the government COULD save money by paying less for prescription drugs...

Democratic Representative Chris Van Hollen, a participant in the Biden talks, said Washington could find savings by lowering the price the government pays for prescription drugs, rather than scaling back benefits for patients.
 So, rather than eliminating our "Nanny-State" government, where the Fed has their fingers in every aspect of life, lets NOT cut healthcare benefits, paid for compliments of the 53% of us who DO pay taxes in this country, and instead, tell drug retailers you aren't paying the going price for their medications???

THAT IS BRILLIANT!!! So much so, that I should emulate their philosophy in my everyday life as well!

"Yeah, hello, Walmart? Um yeah, I'm not going to pay $1/loaf of bread (those new smaller loaves) anymore... WTF do you mean I have to? Hello? Hello?" - They hung up...

Ok, let me try another.

"Yes, Mr. Tax Collector? My taxes are too high this year, I'm not going to pay the full amount anymore, I'll just pay half, in the interest of reducing my household costs". "Oh honey, look! The police are here!"

The point is, you don't just "pay less" for something because you are the government and think you can regulate private industry to give you special deals. Why do you think not all doctor's accept medicare/medicaid? Because the government doesn't pay them but pennies on the dollar, for their services rendered... It's not worth it.

But sure, lets FORCE pharmaceutical companies and pharmacies to take less than asking price, when Uncle Sam is paying... THEN they can just pass along the cost to the private citizen like you or I, for our medications, to absorb the loss, local governments get higher sales tax revenue, business is good, and the only ones REALLY out in the cold on this one, are, you guessed it, we the people...

It's called a tax increase, not so cleverly hidden in the now higher everyday cost for you and I, while some bureaucrat pats himself and his colleagues on the back, pointing to their "savings" that never actually materialize in the real world, but look great on paper.