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I bought a new 1997 Kia Sephia that I was happy with at first. However, in the last month it's been in the repair shop 5 times and I've had over $1000 in repairs done (the cars is barely 2 years old!). I've had the alternator ($236), the battery ($70), the idle motor/throttle assembly ($687), and the pcm (the main computer that controls everything - luckily this was covered under warranty) replaced. I also had to take it to a mechanic who specialized in electrical problems so he could make sure that the Kia dealership I took the car to didn't mess anything up ($65). Aside from these recent repairs, I have also had to replace all four tires ($280), another battery ($60), the PC valve ($55), and I've had assorted repairs done that were covered under warranty. Part of the problem this last month could have been with the Sante Fe Dodge/Kia dealership, but a Kia repair shop should know how to fix it's own cars. I've done some checking around and having to do this many repairs does not seem to be anything out of the ordinary for Kia cars. I've talked to several repair shops and have been told that Kias are good for about 1-2 years, after which time they start to fall apart. This car has left my fiancé and me stranded on the highway 4 times in the last month. Once it almost cost my fiancée her life (the car died at night on a 2 lane highway with no shoulder and she had no power at all - she couldn't even turn on the hazard lights) Buying this car has been the worst mistake of my life, and I want to prevent other people from making the same mistake. If you are planning on buying a Kia, please read some of the many bad reviews and horror stories that I have found on the internet. To read some of the many reviews that other unsatisfied Kia owners have emailed me (sorry, but I am no longer accepting or posting anymore emails), click here. Most of these reviews make the problems with my Kia seem very minor.

Update (3/25/2000): A week after I finally got my car back, the brand new battery the dealership had put in died and needed to be replaced (leaving me stranded for a 5th time!). The dealership told me that they have been having problems with Kia batteries. The idle is also acting funny again, just like before it stranded us for the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th times. It seems my ordeal with this car is never going to end!

Update (5/26/2000): I was contacted by a law clerk today looking for anyone who may have had problems with seat-back failures. She is working on a case where a 12 year old girl was severely disfigured when the driver's side seat-back reclining system failed during a rear end collision and hit her in the head, breaking every bone in her face. Click here to read the email that she sent me. If you have any information that she might find helpful, please email her.

Update (10/26/2000): There is a lawyer who is presently handling Kia cases on a contingency basis. Even if your warranty has run out or your Kia doesn't qualify as a lemon, you may still be able to recover money. The lawyer's name is Howard Gutman and his lawfirm specializes in lemon law cases. You may call him for a free telephone consultation at 973-257-9400 or email him at His website address is

For information on lemon laws and a free telephone consultation, please visit

This page has been viewed times since 3/18/2000.

Note: Below are just some of the hundreds of bad reviews that I found the internet. For more bad reviews of Kia cars, also check out Consumer Affairs.
This consumer affairs site contains complaints indexed by problem (i.e. brakes, stalling, etc.).
The above website contain crash test information on Kias (it's not good news).
Lemon Law Lawyers serving all California residents
California Lemon Law information for consumers in California

Reviews taken from

Save your money!!!
by: angela9049 (Tue Feb 8 '00)
Pros: None A real lemon
Cons: Everything a horrible piece of junk
My daughter-in-law just purchased a Kia Sephia 5 months ago. She only uses this car for work which is just a few miles away. Since she has gotten this car,she has had more problems with it. It is a 1999 car and it was bought brand new. She has received recall letters for everything from faulty windshield wipers to faulty brakes.She even ran out of gas once because the float in her gas tank was defective,and a new part was ordered 4 weeks ago, but can not be fixed because the repair shop is so booked ahead that she can't get an appointment which should tell you something about this product. When the car is put in reverse it sounds like a Mack Truck not a brand new car. This car was fixed 4 times and still runs awful.I hope this is just a bad lemon of a car, I would not want to see anyone else have as many problems as she has had especially when it cost over ten thousand dollars. She is thinking of getting rid of this car fast if it does not improve with the next round of trying to correct its problems.

Kia Sucks!
by: lasich (Thu Mar 23 '00)
Pros: affordable
Cons: the car sucks
I purchased a brand new Kia Sephia last year. We thought it was a cute car, and the price was so affordable, that it was just what we were looking for as far as our budget is concerned.
Not one day later after driving it home, things started going wrong. The main problem was electrical. I would be driving down the road and my gauges would be jumping around, and my stereo would flash and shut on and off.
We called the dealership in Montana, and they asked us to bring it back to be checked out. Keep in mind that this is a two and a half hour trip for us. So we take it back, and of course they can't find any problem. They looked at me like I was a idiot, and the service manager wouldn't even speak with me, only to my husband.
Over the next six months, we made eighteen trips to the dealer. That is over 3300 miles, and at least 45 hours of driving, and they still couldn't find the problem. One morning, I went out and started the car before I had to leave for work, it was pretty cold out. I looked out the window, only to see smoke billowing out from under the hood and the interior of my car was pitch black. Seeing no flames, I ran out to shut the car off, and had my car towed to the dealer.
We drove up the next day, only to hear them say that there was no problem with it. The inside of my car stunk like smoke, and my windows were just black, but there was no problem. After all of this, we enforced the lemon law, and bought a Chevy Malibu. The only thing that I can say is that the reason you can purchase these cars for nothing is because they are cheap cars! I wouldn't wish a Kia on my worse enemy.

Don't buy this car!!
by: marky (Sun Jan 2 '00)
Pros: it looks nice
Cons: poorly made
In Aug of 1999 my wife and i traded in our 1998 dodge dakota for a 4 door sedan. we looked at dodge neon and kia sephias. neons were about 3,00 more and offered the same as kia. After 800 miles the check engine light and OD light started flashing that took three times in the shop at over one month (they fixed it so we couldn't do the lemon law). one of the doors is not lineing up any more, the fuel guage is not accurate, and the Kai representatives are not friendly at all. buy this car if you want the chance to rent other makes of cars (your kia will see more of the service men than you. please please do not buy this vehicle!!! if you want to ask me some questions feel free to write.

not too happy
by: marsanderson (Wed Mar 1 '00)
Pros: none
Cons: quality, price, service
I bought a 1999 Kia Sephia in July of '99, and have already had it in the shop 4 times for major repair. The vehicle has not lived up to the retailer's claims, but the retailer refuses to help. My Kia drives like a golf cart (that's the only comparison I can think of); it has no power, and the gas mileage has gone down steadily since I bought it (yet the dealer says there is nothing wrong). The transmission is failing. The brakes were replaced at 8000 miles, and are starting to go out again at 16000 miles. I am afraid to drive anywhere alone because it has broken down and been towed twice. They claim that the Kia has high safety ratings, yet if you research it it is 'Much worse than Average' and has an extremely high risk for injury to the driver. I have not had a good response from the dealer or the manufacturer, and I would not recommend this car for anyone at all.

Not even the wholesalers will buy it!
by: JessyC (Sun Jan 16 '00)
Pros: very cheap
Cons: holds no value and is poorly made
Coming from someone who is in the car business and deals with resale value everyday I can tell you that we can not even get the wholesalers to look at these. When a customer drives on our lot in one of these we run. They have so much negative equity that we can't help them. The car is cheap I do have to tell you that. Their are plenty of other makes and models out there that are a much better deal. I won't mention mine just to prove my point. Take a look at consumer books like Intellichoice and J.D. Powers. Just remember a car is only worth what some one will pay for it.

by: lilmissheidi (Thu Feb 10 '00)
Pros: Don't have to walk (unless it won't start)
Cons: Worst car ever on the road!!
A warning to everyone.....DO NOT BUY A KIA!!! I have had nothing but problems with my car since I purchased it in August of 1997. When I purchased the vehicle (1996 Kia Sephia LS), I had NO idea what I was about to get myself into. Within 2 weeks of purchasing the vehicle, it was in the shop having work done 3 times!! And, there was only 2600 miles on it at time of purchase! I later was denied service by the Kia dealership in Vallejo, CA (Lincoln, Mercury, Audi, Kia). They refused to work on my car telling me to take it elsewhere as I was no longer welcome in there office. I was completely amazed at the service I was given and reported it to the manager. NOTHING was done. So, to make a long story short, my electrical system is shot, I have had work done on the fuel hoses 4 times, my car tends not to start atleast 1-2 times a week, and NOBODY will take it as a trade in!! Please take my advise and DON'T buy a Kia!!!

Lemon on Wheels
by: orinthia (Sat Jul 10 '99)
Pros: Inexpensive
Cons: Depreciates too fast. Too many repairs. Length of time to obtain parts
I purchased a KIA in November 1997 and it has been in the shop apporximately once a month since then. The transmission was replaced, air conditioning, wiper fell off, the lining in the trunk fell out, etc. Now it is in the shop for engince trouble. The car won't start. The service on the car is not very good either. It takes a week or more for a part to be delivered for the car, then days after that to actually get the car fixed. The new transmission is on the blink again as well. The car is now only worth $4,000 at best after 2 years. In 1997 car's MSRP was $12,000 now same car's MSRP is $8,500. I paid $10,000 at the time for a car with 8,000 miles on it. The car was a demo and they had to sell it as used because of the milage.
I bought this car as a poor college student who needed transportation. I knew it wasn't a top of the line car. I knew there was a possibility for some problems, but not this many. Not so frequently. My advice to a person with limited cash who needs a car, don't cheap out. Buy anything but a KIA. The car is inexpensive and service is even shabbier.

Kia Sucks Blue Whale
by: minking (Fri Jan 21 '00)
Pros: cheap
Cons: constant recalls
I bought this vehicle because it was cheap and my husband has the sportage. I cannot tell you how many recalls there have been on this car. When my husband first experienced problems with his car, I thought it was a fluke and decided to get one anyway. Big mistake. Now as of late, they send me a letter telling me there is something wrong with the fuel pump and it could cause fatalities! My God, could they have screwed up any more? If you are deciding to get a Kia, think again! This has taught me to do more research on a potential new car. You should ask people who drive the, always get more than one opinion! It's very important it could be the difference between a fender bender and your life!

Is a dangerous car
by: diane_medina (Mon Dec 20 '99)
Pros: none
Cons: see above
I bought 2 of these cars (the Kia Sophia) the 1999 model. The brakes decided not to work on the first one when my 18 year old daughter was going down a highway at 70 miles a hour. She tried to turn to the left and the car went to the right cause her to loose control. Then the brakes decided to work and locked up causing her to go totally out of control, spinning and finally ending up in a ditch after hitting 2 trees head on and guess what!!!! the air bags did not work either. The car was totaled but thank God my daughter only ended up with a few bruises. The 2nd car I have my 16 year old was driving at 20 miles and hour and went to slow down to turn a corner and it did the same thing. Luckily all she had damaged was her tire and rim from hitting a curb. I took the car back and of course the KIA dealer said they could not get the car to do it again so they decided there was nothing wrong with the car. Also the 2nd car keeps blowing tires, 3 in the last 2 months and of course KIA says there was nothing wrong with the tires also. What a RIP off and What a dangerous car I just thank God nothing drastic happened to my daughters.
Nashville, TN.
Kia dealer is in Madison, TN.

Piece of sh......junk
by: Tehaskye (Fri Jan 7 '00)
I purchased a Kia Sephia in July of 1998. I made this investment mostly because of the price and also my beloved Mitsubishi Galant was stolen. On the test drive I did not go very far form the dealership and although I was not totally satisfied I figured it was cheap and I really needed to get to work. This car has been in the shop over eighteen times for problems. My biggest mistake was paying cash. Although the dealership pretended to care, nobody gave a damn about my safety. So far I have had the battery replaced , brakes replaced three times, radio replaced, starter replaced, reverse light replaced, the engine check light comes on constantly, etc, etc, etc.Too much to mention.I AM DISAPPOINTED IN KIA. Recently two(2) recall notices came in the mail, one for windshield wiper replacement and the second for fuel pump circuit connections.When will this end. Maybe when some is severely injured. Since I am supposed to write what I liked about the car, here goes..... the color is wonderful.!

Sephia Not Safe
by: Paigie (Tue Dec 28 '99)
Pros: Price, gas mileage
An all-around safe car doesn't exist, but I wouldn't put my child in a Kia Sephia. I encourage everyone to review this crash test article before purchasing this car:
In the Institute's 40 mph frontal offset crash test, "The driver space wasn't maintained well in the frontal offset crash test. Intrusion into the footwell area contributed to poor leg injury results. There was too much steering column movement, and the design of the safety belt allowed too much dummy movement during the crash. Head restraints are poor, and the bumpers are marginal."
If this is at 40 mph, I have to wonder what would happen in any sort of highway collision, especially when it's a Sephia vs. any larger vehicle.
You can research car safety in a variety of ways at the following sites:

Definitely a Lemon
by: barrob (Sat Jan 29 '00)
Pros: Cost, color
Cons: everything else
I bought a 1999 Kia Sephia because of the price. I also got a 60,000 mile warrenty on it, which is a good thing considering how many things need to be replaced.
I had to have the car towed after only having it a few months. After two weeks in the repair shop, I got my car back. I guess that part of the axle had to be repaired. They didn't give me the paper work for the repair until I filed a complaint against them.
One week after I got my dear Kia back, it started making the same noise again. I had it towed and was then left on a payphone for two hours trying to get home. Kia wouldn't give me a loaner car until they knew what was wrong with the car, never mind that I had just finished having it repaired. I finally rented a car with my own money.
Repair number 3 involved the fuel tank, it wouldn't fill up.
#4 was the fuel pump recall- " could cause serious injured or death"- and they made me drive it to their dealership which was two hours away.
If you have a little more money, buy something else!!!!!!

Kia's are no good
by: AAKT (Thu Mar 9 '00)
Pros: NONE
I bought a 1997 Kia Sephia GL in Jan. 1998 and it was in the shop by Feb. of 1998. I had the brakes and rotors replaced 4 times with 3 months. I had a new dash put within the first year that I had it. All seals on the doors were replaced. Had 3 new batteries within the first 5 months. Had 2 new starters within 6 months of purchase. Had a new door handle placed on the rear right door. There was a clicking noise in the engine that they could not fix. There were other minor problems that were wrong with the car also. I call the Regional Manager for Kia and told him my story and all the problems I have had. We decided on they would repurchase my car back from me if I would buy a 2000 Kia from them. I told them yes, and bought the other car. As soon as the title was in my name and the bank paper work went through I traded the car in at other dealership and got the HELL away from KIA. They are the worst car on the market. The driving experience of the car was not the greatest. I would not recommend anyone to own this kind of car.

Piece of ?#!$/!#
by: smeurer8 (Tue Nov 23 '99)
Pros: cheap
Cons: cheap
Yeah this car's cheap - but as they say, you get what you pay for. Considering that most decent sub-compacts start at least a few thousand more than the Sephia, it seems a bit weary. I speak from experience, living in misery with this piece of junk until I can afford something better. While the car gets decent mileage and is pretty comfortable, it is also put together very poorly. The car is very easy to break into. Many owners I have seen have also had many brake problems, mine have even locked up on the freeway, which is not a good thing. The doors are also not sturdy, as the plastic molding that is the inside of the door can become separated if you are the kind of person who slams the door too hard. The locks are also have problems, especially those that have power locks, as they get stuck and you can't get out of the car and then you have to pull a "Duke's of Hazzard" to get out.
Please save yourself the pain and money. This car is not a lemon, but a mildewed one.

Don't believe the hype...
by: HOLLOWSEVE31 (Mon Dec 20 '99)
Pros: Unreliable braking system, obstructed air conditioning
Cons: price, styling for compact car
I purchased the Kia Sephia for multiple reasons,... two of the most important was the price as well as the size/ styling of the car. I really loved the car during the test drive and had absolutely no complaints after signing the paperwork and driving it off the lot. Within 1 month of my purchase, I had been in Kia's service department at least 3 times! Within 3 months my visits to Kia's service department had reached an overwhelming 9 times! All for brake problems and AC problems. I finally realized that "LEMON LAW" was an only option.
The car's styling HAS greatly improved and I love the fact that a short person like myself (4'11) could sit comfortably and still be able to see over the steering wheel. However for the money spent, I really feel like it should have offered A LOT more than I got.
Kia realizes that the airbags obstruct the ventilation on the passenger side of the car, however they have not taken any strides to rectify this matter, nor have they worked towards better braking systems. Until this happens I feel for the owners who have gone through the countless days in the service department, or for those that are still crossing their fingers and hoping that their brakes will work for them! In my opinion, the KIA Sephia sounds like a great deal for the money, but it's simply not a sound automobile for safety!

by: bplantssss1 (Sat Jan 22 '00)
Pros: comfort
Cons: too many repairs
Purchased a 99 Kia Sephia in June of 99. Right now the vehicle has 5000 miles on it I am on my 15th trip to the service dept and have had the following replaced: flywheel (part of your motor), transmission, 2 sets of rotors and brakes, power steering pump, power steering train, timing belt, air conditioner belt, fuel pump, fuel tank, fuel gauge, 3 sets of alternater belts and the car still squeals. I am presently working with my State Attorney and Lawyer to turn this car in as a lemon. In the upper Ohio valley area there is 4 other Kia sephia owners that are also turning their cars in as lemons.
Be smart, stay away from this vehicle.

Be Careful
by: mafaruqui (Sun Dec 12 '99)
Pros: good mileage and price.
Cons: dubious safety standards. Model too new for a full safety record.
Folks be careful with the Kia Sephia!!!
It's got a great price, great gas mileage, great reliability but it comes with huge trade off on safety. I would feel much safer in a Toyota Corrolla, Toyota Tercel, Honda Civic or even a motorcycle. As a newspaper reporter, I take turns on weekend cops duty... One Sunday there was a vicious accident. An elderly couple in a late-model Cadillac were doing only 50 mph on a country road when they failed to stop at an intersection to a two-lane state highway. They struck a red Kia Sephia on the driver's side and both cars (in T-formation) glided off the highway, over the ditch and onto a cow pasture. The Kia instantly caught fire and its 5 passengers were trapped because none of the doors could open. The front passenger (male) and two rear passengers (one male, one female) died on the scene. The driver (female) and one rear passenger (male) were hospitalized and were under critical condition for more than a week. All five passengers were between age 17 and 20. The couple in their Cadillac, in their mid-70's, were taken to the hospital but were released within a day. Both cars were totaled.

by: YUMMYKAZ (Tue Jan 11 '00)
Cons: Deathtrap.Moneypit.Friends think you are stupid and poor
I warn you...never ever buy or drive in a Kia. We made the BAD decision to buy one in 95. It finally died a miserable death. The extended GE warranty was SO BAD also that they covered one thing on the piece of junk.
Everything from the interior ( door vinyl and dash peeled away) to the exterior (paint peeled off front/hood) was miserable.
Everything from the fuel system to the cooling system to the transmission (complete replacement under original warranty)broke. Someone rated my opinion "not recommended" because he wrote a glowing review of the Kia. The thing I don't can you write a great review of a car that you say in your review has been in the shop...oh because it is all warranty work. A GOOD car does not need warranty work! A GOOD car needs work long AFTER the warranty has expired. My Camry has NEVER needed any work, warranty or not and it is going on 108K miles. That is a GOOOD car!
The car rates the worst under the highway safety test site.
We bought this when we needed a cheap car fast. This time when we needed a cheap car fast...we rented a car and looked around instead of jumping into a lemon.
We bought a Toyota Echo and love it. See my review of it!
I have even had my friends email me Kia jokes! ( Keep It Away=KIA) If you check there is a guy that even has a whole web site about his sueing KIA!

by: chocobo (Thu Dec 30 '99)
If there is one thing that my husband has tried to instill in me over the past few years we have been together it is that cheaper is not always better. We purchased our KIA Sportage EX (luxury model) in November of 1997. We had recently had our third child and were living on a modest salary (my husband being in the military). The KIA Sportage seemed like such a great value. It was reasonably priced and came loaded with all of the bells and whistles for a low price of around $17,000.00.
Against my husbands better judgement we purchased our vehicle. Within days our Sportage had to go in the shop for waranty repairs. At first it seemed like only minor issues such as the passenger door wouldn't open the lock on the drivers door wouldn't work, but then we kept experiencing problems with the check engine light coming on. To make a long story short in the year and a half that we owned this car it went into the shop 9 times.
Upon my husband's reassignment to Texas, KIA agreed (after months of arguing) to assist us in a trade out of this vehicle on the stipulation that we purchase another Sportage. We were desperate and so we took them up on their offer.
We purchased our 99' Sportage in January of this year. It has also been a complete let down. The air conditioning unit has been repaired on 4 different occasions for leaking. At one time I had to have it towed into the dealer because there was water pouring out from under the dash board of the car. The window rolls up crooked causing the gasket to get mashed up inside the window. And most recently while I was driving my boss and his wife to the airport, my car lost power, the ability to steer, and slipped out of gear.
When people ask me how I like my KIA, I strongly recommend to them NEVER BUY A KIA. They are the poorest made vehicle we have ever had the misfortune to own. Please don't be fooled by the low price. If there is anything good that I have gotten from my experience of owning a KIA, it has been to learn that my husband isn't always wrong and in this case he was very right. CHEAPER ISN'T ALWAYS BETTER.

Wouldn't recommend
by: jennys (Thu Jan 27 '00)
Pros: It's really cute
Cons: Poor pickup, not good on gas (even when highway driving)
My husband and I just bought our first brand new car in July 1999. We were so excited going out and shopping, looking for the best for the amount we could afford. I've heard some good things about Kia and they're in a good price range. Ours cost about 15.
We went to the local Kia dealer in our area. We took the car for a few days and it seemed to be ok. We bought it (actually are financing). We have had nothing but problems with this car since day one. I'm talking a real lemon. It's a soft top two door, cute little car. But if you have a family it's not very practical.
We've had to get new breaks already, it burns oil like you would not believe, surprisingly it stinks on gas. We do a lot of long distance driving and have noticed it doesn't get very good pickup. We've been left in the dust by some really old clunky cars.
What else could I say? The warranty pays for the problems, but still we buy a new car to avoid "problems". I would recommend to someone thinking of getting a sportage to really think about what you could be getting. Just really shop around first. I know I'd never buy one again.

Too many trips to the dealership
by: sweet1975 (Tue Feb 8 '00)
Pros: Looks good, has a relatively quiet ride.
Cons: In the shop too many times
I bought my Kia Sportage convertible in June of 1999. I was very excited since this is my first new car. I only got to drive it one day before I had it in the shop. I was driving with no back lights!! Whoever put in the alarm forgot to put back a fuse!! So I was out on the highway at 11:00 at night with no rear lights at all!! There have been so many more times I can't even remember them all now, just recently it was about 12 degrees below zero and a hose broke and all of my antifreeze leaked out, so I had no heat and then the car overheated. I have also been in for numerous check engine lights, which were blamed on the fact that I must have pumped the gas and not tightened the gas cap. My alarm has gone off while driving. I can't even tell you how many problems I have had with the car and I haven't even had it for a year yet. It is not worth the aggravation!!

Keep it at the dealers
by: integrations (Tue Dec 21 '99)
Pros: Trunk roominess
Cons: Noisy ride, excessive maintenance
I had been looking for an SUV to support my business and my need to reach clients in inclement weather in New England. I traded in a wonderful Honda Civic, but needed the extra room, and found the Kia, "a fitting" choice. In the first month of owning the vehicle, it spent more time at the dealers garage, then I did driving it. It has a lot of "character" (flaws) that is. The first week I owned the car, I took a trip, and the car broke down on the turnpike. All the belts had broken!!!
I own a two tone model, and the trim has fallen off. The car is very noisy with the windows up and down. I installed a wind screen to alleviate some of the noise, and it is just as bad. There was an misalignment problem of the rear hatch which would intermittantly set off the security device. The windows failed after the first three months to lower, and the inside door handles broke off.
I continue to have the car in the shop for knocks, pings and squeals. I have replaced two tires for slow leaks, and have had two new cd players installed in the car for overheating problems. The rear hatch is inconvenient to open, and leaves the car vulnerable to would be attackers. At best, the car has a cute appearance, and is a poor purchase for any price.

Former Salesman fesses up
by: Jim-Frey (Thu Dec 2 '99)
Pros: cheap, easy to finance
Cons: cheap, buy for road, one for shop
I used to work for a very large (22 franchise) dealer in Virginia. We had a Kia dealership too. Kia would finance anyone, but we all joked about not wanting to sell them because you would be trampled by complaint phone calls. Honda customers called with referrals, Kia customers called with curses. One saleslady had a Sportage breakdown on the curb minutes after the customer purchased it. I had a young fellow in a loaner car on and off for three months directly after he purchased his Kia.
The dealership has since sold the Kia franchise for lack of profits over customer satisfaction.

Great car if you like crap...
by: Siwinis (Tue Dec 14 '99)
Pros: Looks like a great piece of cr*p
Cons: It is a piece of cr*p
The Kia Sportage is really a piece of crap. I had a 1996 loaded out 4x4. Although the car looked great I spent most of my time at the dealership getting it fixed (I counted 18 days!). The AT gearshift would get stuck and lock, I had this fixed 4 times!!! (I should have lemon lawed it). The AC broke 3 times, yes 3 in the middle of summer in Florida...need I say more? The Kia has no power and when you need the boost to pass on the freeway or overcome any car at any other time you were shackey from go. Don't try even a slight turn. Closing the rear hatch was a pain in the you know what too. If you you didn't slam it real hard it wouldn't latch and if it didn't latch right, you had to go back into the car and lift the little switch...lame. When you slammed it hard it sounded like it was going to break. This is only the tiny bothersome problems I had, I also had problems with the engine itself. And to top it off the service center guys were jerks who acted like I was a waste of time and I spent $24K on this "lego-car." PLEASE if you are going to spend the money BUY SOMETHING ELSE!!! If you buy the car after reading've been warned ;)If I were to rate this car from 1 eye being cr*p and 5 eyes been sussed I'd give it 1 eye with a stick in it! ---"Smitty"

by: BADKIA (Wed Dec 1 '99)
I leased A 1999 Kia Sportage 2-Door Convertible 4x2 In July Of 1999. I Bought The Truck Because I Did A Lot Of Comparison Shopping, And Almost All Of The Time It Could Not Be Beaten For The Price. Versus The Crv, It Has The Same Ground Clearance, More Horsepower, An Available Convertible, And In My Opinion A Much More Comfortable Interior, And All For Around 2 To 4 Thousand Dollars Less. The same goes For the Rav-4. Now For the Lemon Part. Since I've Bought It In July, I've Found My Self Stranded In Downtown Philadelphia When A Hose On The Radiator Blew Coolant All Over The Street And The Engine Compartment, The Cigarette Lighter Pulled Right Out Of The Dash Board While Unplugging My Cell Phone, I've Also Had The Weather-stripping On Both Front Windows Fall Off, The Rear Convertible Window Doesn't Attach Tight In The Back And Flaps Open All Of The Time, The Transmission Slips Once Every Few Days, It Jumps Out Of Gear For A Second And Then Slams Back Into Gear, But It Only Does It Every Few Days, So Of Course It Doesn't Do It For The Mechanics. At First I Loved The Truck, It Was Nice Looking, Sounds Great With A Performance Exhaust, It Was Affordable, And The Standard Features Were Unbeatable. However Try Not To Get Stuck In A Bad One. I don't know if I Am Just One of the Unlucky Ones, But You Won't Catch Me Buying Another One.

worst mistake
by: wagerh (Sun Feb 20 '00)
Pros: looks good
Cons: doesnt funtion well in 4 wd.many repair troubles
i bought this car because i love suv's..i had driven a suzuki sidekick for 10 yrs, and was looking for something similiar, just a little less costly. i have had nothing but trouble with this vehicle since the day i bought it.. i was never so sorry in my life. it clunks intermittently when i give it gas, the four wheel drive "on the fly" means on the "dead" have to be going 15 mph or less, turns and backing up is extremely difficult in 4 wheel drive, i have had multiple problems with it during the six months i have owned it..i would never recommend this car to anyone..bless the people who have had good luck with this car..from the amount of kias i see at the dealership repair shop on a regular basis, i think others must share my vast disappointment

Kia , Buyer Beware!!!
by: snowhite20 (Tue Mar 21 '00)
Pros: Nothing good at all about this vehicle
Cons: Constantly in the shop
I am a previous owner of a Kia Sportage and it honestly was the biggest financial mistake I have ever made. I want to warn you all "buyers beware!!". I owned a 1997 Kia Sportage and finally had the pleasure of recently trading it in for a reliable vehicle (Toyota).
From the beginning my Sportage was a disaster. Within the first month of owning the vehicle I had the check engine light come on and it was in the shop. From then on it was one thing after another. I had a literal stack of work reports for one thing or another. You name it, it probably went bad in my car. In three years I must have gone through about 10 different rental cars because my Kia was always in the shop.
In the first year of owning the Sportage, the rear differential was replaced. During my second year of ownership the transmission had to be replaced. Then, in the third year they had to replace my motor (In three years!!!). Isn't a car supposed to last longer than three years??
I tried to claim the lemon law on my vehicle only to learn that it has to be the same problem three times in a row within the first year of ownership. I tried to trade the car in but to no avail, until recently. When I finally got someone to take the piece of junk, the value had dropped so drastically that I ended up having to pay an extra $4,000 to cover the difference between the worth of the car and my payoff amount.
All I am thankful for about this vehicle is that I was smart enough to get the extended warranty. So, all I can say is don't make the same mistake that I made, don't buy Kia

Nothing but TROUBLE
by: sweber2653 (Thu Mar 16 '00)
Pros: easy to drive feels pretty roomy
Cons: bad quality, undependable
We bought a 1996 Kia Sportage in May of 1998, with 33,000 miles on it. By December of 98, not only did we end up having to replace the engine but we found out nothing was covered under the warranty despite not even being to 40,000 miles. Apparently the radiator, which was made of plastic and not covered, can split open and the water will drain our so quickly that as you overheat it will only show up on the temperature gauge for a few moments, as the heat is measured through the water temperature. We had just had an oil change a check up, then took a trip to a road trip for the day, a by the next morning ended up with a broken down vehicle. Even after having the new engine put in we still have problems with the door ajar sounds going off for no reason and batteries being drained despite having it in the shop over and over. It also does not hold any value at all and despite being in perfect condition otherwise we have been unable to sell. We have gotten the run around from the dealership we bought it from and from Kia. We recommend that you do not buy this vehicle of any year without a very long warranty that covers all parts.

by: budbrat (Thu Mar 16 '00)
Pros: Nothing
Cons: Everything
You want to spend all your time back at the dealership getting it fixed. I've got to admit, it's cut and a reasonable price, but that's where the goodness ends. I have had mine in the shop 10 times and it has been for ten different things. My four-wheel drive didn't work, three different recalls, an exhaust leak, which the had to replace the cadalitic converter, a cracked exhaust manifold, a dead altenator a week after they tightened the belts and they said it wasn't there fault, the check engine light kept coming on, the windows have a wicked air leak which they can't fix, my pull cable for the spare tire broke off. I know there is more because sometimes it was for multiple reasons. I think the best one was when they did an oil change and forgot to put the cap back on. There was oil all over the engine and I was lucky that I didn't run out of oil and blow a rod. The engine bucks on the highway, but it doesn't do it for them. It has a horrible suspension system. I think the best thing is the $600 cd player that blew a speaker when i only had it for two weeks. Need I say more???

by: TootsLD (Thu Jan 20 '00)
Pros: Roomy
Cons: Steering,noises,horn,....lots
I loved the Sportage the first time I seen it! I trade my 94' firebird in on it even though I didn't get all of it paid off. I signed my life away. The first time I drove it I took it right back to the KIA dealer because it was pulling slightly to the right! They did a alignment said everything was fine now. I was back because it was still doing it and there was wind coming in from the front windshield. They checked my air pressure in my ties and they order new weather-striping for my front doors for the wind noise.
I was back they replaced the weather-stripping and took the KIA for a teat drive and said nothing was wrong with it. The service manger stated that all KIA's are made to follow the road and all the roads are made to the right. And the wind noise is coming from the wind whipping around the mirrors even though I feel the wind coming in! So after all this I wrote to the main KIA dealer , to give them their last chance to fix the problem. And informed Lemon Law.
I was back for the last time and this time my husband had to argue with the service manger about it.the service manger was very unprofessional. He said nothing is wrong with it. So they did nothing to it! Now I'm waiting for Lemon Law to take over to get a refund! Also the KIA is hard to push the horn,open the hatchback,window some times doesn't work,it goes all over the road especially when the wind is blowing,VERY UNSAFE!,and burns up fuel like a 6cyl.
Please if anyone has problems with steering please e-mail me to help my case with Lemon Law.

Reviews taken from

jerrycagle, from United States, Mar 6, 2000
'97 KIA Sephia RS
I have had problems too numerous to list, but among them have been warped brake rotors, check engine light comes on frequently, yesterday smoke started pouring out from under the dash on the passenger side and the car stopped running. I could go on but won't... Let me just recommend that you do not buy one!!!

Mark Galloway from Baltimore,Md, Jan 8, 2000
Sephia headaches
Buying this car was the worst mistake of my life. I've had nothing but problems.

Joe Fortunato from Easton, PA, Nov 29, 1999
What a piece of S**T
I bought one in August for a commuter vehicle. Has been in the shop six times. Problem 1.) Gas gauage didn't register properly. The dealer knew about the problem when I called and fixed it promptly. 2.) The front end shimmed horribly at 60 mph. The dealer stated the tires were improperly balanced, but it still has a shimmy. 3.) The transmission was slipping aand the dealer told me there was no problem, but when I told him I would gladly test drive it with him in the vehicle, he decided to replace the trans. It turns out that this is another problem that Kia knows about. 4.) My biggest complaint is that at 60 - 65 mph when driving at a steady speed the car jerks back and forth as if the A/C compressor is coming on and off. The dealer told me that Kia knows about this and that they are waiting for a software load to reprogram the ECM(Emissions Control Module), but have no firm date as to when this is to be done. I reported this in September at 1000 miles. I again brought the car in two weeks ago for the same problem(3 times now) and the dealer and the service problem are aware of the problem, the technician says he hasn't seen one yet that doesn't do this, but Kia will not acknowledge the problem. I have also had the rotors and front brakes replaced and have just gotten the recall for the wipers. DON'T LET ANYONE YOU KNOW BUY ONE!!!!!!!

Roger Jenkins, from Richmond, Va, Nov 26, 1999
Awful mistake!!!
What a mistake in choosing the many problems, check engine light on several times, brakes shimmy...Should have paid more and bought the Elantra...Best thing to do with a Sephia is put a lid on it and turn into a toilet...

Greg Suskin from South Carolina, Nov 24, 1999
why would anyone buy this?
don't you Kia owners do any research? Don't you read any reviews, ask questions, talk to other owners?? I research cars constantly, and I've never read one good thing about Kia...not one. IN fact, the Consumer Reports review of the Sephia is the worst review to ever appear in that magazine. It actually called it, "a car to avoid." why would you buy this? If it's because of price, then purchase a used Civic or Corolla in the same price range. Come on people, let's think here!

A Reviewer, from Windy City, Nov 15, 1999
Bad engine, bad brakes, hard steering, unusable design. Just a crap.

Don from Milton, NH, Oct 28, 1999
unsafe for kids
Rented a '98 last year in Florida for a week. The seatbelt in the backseat allowed the childseat to move more than a foot in any direction with the seat belt tight as possible. Never had this happen with any other vehicle. Fortunately we didn't go alone and my child was able to ride in another car. I would never consider one of these cars, they are uncomfortable, noisy, poor gas mileage for a compact, and unsafe.

Robert Starace from Queens, NY, Sep 13, 1999
The only thing worse than the reliability of this car is the apathy & ineptitude of the service department. I would also like to relay the following: The NHTSA is investigating Kia Sephia & Sportage for windshield wiper problems to determine whether a recall should be conducted. If you had a wiper problem call Bob Young at (202) 366-4806 or call the NHTSA at 1 (800) 424-9393.

Joe, Sep 8, 1999
Kia SUX!
Have a 96' Sephia RS.....been in shop at least 10 times....very trivial misgivings about this car. Don't BUY IT!

A Reviewer, Aug 17, 1999
The car has been in the shop 10 times in less than 6 months. The dealer is horrible (Bournival Kia, Portsmouth, NH) They just lie, lie, lie...

Adam from MD, Aug 9, 1999
Piece of junk
My parents purchased a '98 Sephia. It's fairly comfortable, but it's underpowered and it shifts very harshly. It has a few rattles, the power steering pump makes noise, the brake rotors warped after a whopping 3000 miles, TWO exhaust components broke (the exhaust is usually pretty reliable on real cars.. ;), a relay fried which caused the car to not start, and many more. The fuel gauge isn't accurate. The dealership replaced the fuel level sending unit, which didn't solve the problem. They also broke a fuel line, so it started spraying gasoline in a parking lot. It has an intermittent "check engine" light, and one day the transmission started slipping badly when I was driving it, but it hasn't happened since. Probably a flaky sensor, it happens with electronically-controlled transmissions. Stay away from this piece of junk! If you have 10 grand to spend on a car, you'll do much better to get a good used car rather than a new Kia.

P. Murray from Virginia Beach, Virginia, Jul 9, 1999
This Car is a LEMON
We purchased our Kia Sephia new in March 1998. In September 1998 the brakes had to be replaced. In December, they had to be replaced again. In February, March, April, May and June they had to be replaced. Also in February, the Over Drive warning light and the Check Engine light came on for the first time. The car has been in to the dealer a total of 12 times (if not more). We decided to have the car declared a Lemon. At first, Kia offered us $8,000 to buy it back. Luckily for us we saved all of the work orders. We counter-offered for $15,000. Kia decided that there was no possible way they would win the case if we took them to court. My advice for any Kia owners (or any other car, for that matter) is to keep all of the work orders. These are essential if you want to have your car declared a Lemon. I would not reccommend this car to my worst enemy.

Arthur and Kristi Lorton from Gaithersburg,Maryland, Jun 12, 1999
KIA Sephia, good car?
We just bought a '99 Sephia and think it is ok for our first car. But we are having trouble with the car being "jumpy" while driving at sustained speeds. The accelorator sticks and the 2nd gear is slugish. The service people cannot fix it. It is now less than 3 months since we have bought it and it has been in the shop now for the second time for the last 4 days. I'm not happy with the quality. I know that I did not buy a Rolls, but I should still get something better than a pinto. I will not recomend Kia to anyone. Looks like we will be using the Lemon Law paperwork after all.

A Reviewer, Jun 5, 1999
will go the way of the yugo
Into the shop 4 times and trans failure at 700 miles

Jackson M., from Rising Sun, MD, Jun 5, 1999
What a Piece of Junk
Drives like a Pinto that has been in a wreck. The only car I have had more unreliable was a 1996 Ford Windstar

Michele from Ft. Lauderdale, FL, Jun 2, 1999
Kia Sephia
I've never experienced more problems with a car. I had to take it in for service almost every month for the entire first year I owned the car (I bought it brand new). I would not recommend this car to my worst enemy.

Reviews taken from - consumer comments

Note: This website contains hundreds of messages concerning KIA, most of them bad. Below is just a sample of some of the more recent bad experiences that people have had.

KIA (brifzr) Mon 13 Mar '00 (09:29 PM)
I owned a Kia Sportage since sept 1998, and it was the worst vehicle on the face of the planet. I will never purchase a Kia product again. If their is someone out there looking to buy a Kia Sportage I beg you not to. I had problems with the clutch fan, my hubs needed to be change out 5 times, my transfer case once, just to name a few. If you are in the market for a Sportage look at the Tracker or the Vitara, hell look at the metro first. Anything beats a Sportage. I also had major problems with the service dept. at my dealer not wanting to service my vehicle. I beg you people who are looking for a vehicle not to buy Kia. By the way for the skeptical out there I have a friend who owns a Kia and he is running into the same stuff.

Re: RBM (vocus) Fri 10 Mar '00 (07:54 AM)
I have had a few friends that took Kias back because of their problems. I have read MANY post on here concerning arbitration and the like. Also, Kia has the WORST record for reliability in the US and their customer service sucks!
Kia does have a lot of room inside. But they literally stink inside (undercoating on the body I think) and the interior looks like plastic a 3rd grader put together in Art class. They are just a poor excuse for transportation.

disappointed Sportage owner (jenniferw2) Thu 09 Mar '00 (10:31 AM)
I don't want to tell anyone that the Sportages are horrible cars, but I would like to share my experience with one. I bought my 4dr, 4x2, 98' Sportage in July of 98'. Two months after having it the engine was slipping and the automatic windows did not work. I took it to the shop and they fixed it, but a month later it was back in the shop for the same reason. The engine. This summer, I will of had my sportage for 2yrs and I just picked up my car from the shop for the 9th time!!! Same reason, THE ENGINE! This car only has 9000 miles on it. Of course I lemon lawed it and the process has been going on for 5 months now. Finally, Kia settled and i'll be getting my money back in 10-15 days but i still ended up losing money. The scary part is that the reason it took so long for me to get my money back is because Kia had so many Lemom Law cases on the Sportage and the Sephia. I wish i had known that two years ago.

fed up kia owner!!!! (saynokia) Thu 09 Mar '00 (10:11 AM)
Coming out of college in 1998 i needed to buy a car "Affordable and reliable." After shopping around for a couple weeks i decided to go with the Sephia LS.
In the 20 months since i've had to have the car towed 6 times for various engine problems, once off of a major highway and once for the full pump problem that was fixed only two months prior for the recall.
Now looking to buy a new car, and find some piece of mind driving to work every day. Going to three dealers i found the best price i could get for the piece of junk is $5000, and when i showed them the blue book value for the car, own dealer actually laughed in amusement.

Upset Kia Sephia Owner (jtimes2) Wed 08 Mar '00 (02:31 PM)
I purchased a '98 Kia Sephia brand new in 1998. I have had nothing but problems, after problems with the car and the local dealership. I have had two radios put in the car, replaced tires after only 15,000 and have had it to the dealership 6 times to basically fix the problems I asked them to the first time. I have filed a complaint with Kia, and they have settled with me, as far as to give me back my 800.00 I paid for an extended warranty that was suppose to let me have loaner cars, etc. but never once did I receive one. The car gets me where I need to go, but I do not advise anyone buying one. That's why next month I will be buying a Toyota.

Used to sell these things (71charger) Sun 27 Feb '00 (07:33 AM)
My wife used to sell these things. One of the reasons she left was she said she didn't enjoy selling such pieces of junk to unsuspecting people. They were breaking down so often back then (97) that they were discouraged from taking test drives if they could sell without one. Amazing number of front hub failures in the Sportages back then.

Just repaying Kia (kiawary) Fri 11 Feb '00 (04:44 PM)
I had to fight Kia long and hard to get them to finally agree to repurchase my car. Every aspect of my "Kia experience" was very painful. What till my Krap In America webpage is finished and hooked into all of the search engines! The tradition rule is that an unhappy customer will share his/her experience and opinions with 10 or so people. New rule: the Internet enables an insignificant consumer--like me--to share my story with many, many, many more people! :-)

RE: defense (vocus) Thu 03 Feb '00 (01:56 PM)
Hello, but JD Power rated the Kia the WORST customer service and the HIGHEST number of problems. You show me a Honda/Toyota/Nissan or even a darn HYUNDAI with that record and I will kiss your butt on national television! There is no way Kia is any good. People have bought them and had no trouble, but more people have sent them back through arbitration than any other car EVER! So now that I have said MY peace, I feel better. Thank you for your support.

KIA: Krap In America (kiawary) Fri 14 Jan '00 (05:06 PM)
Here's some info about Kia: J.D. Power 1999: Kia has the highest number of defects (twice the industry average) of any make and had the lowest customer satisfaction.
Consumer Report 1999: Ranked the Sephia among the worst ever tested; a car to avoid.
Strategic Vision Inc., 5 May 99: "Worst brand: with sixty-two percent of Kia's buyers reporting defects, 28 percent said it affected overall satisfaction with their purchase."
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found the 99 Sephia offered Poor (the lowest score) occupant protection in a crash.
Are Kia's prices really low enough to compensate for the amount of time you'll lose taking it back to the dealer for repair? If you plan on keeping a Kia past it's warranty period, think of how much it'll cost you when you have to pay for the repairs yourself. Pay a little more up front and buy a better brand of car--you'll save money in the long-run.
Read the other posts here on about the brakes that only last 2000-3000 miles. How difficult is it fix standard, front-disc brakes. Apparently, a problem like this takes several years for Kia to isolate. Very scary proposition since Kia has the highest defect rate: How many times do you want to be annoyed by the same problems?
Quit drinking lattes and use the money to buy a Saturn, Toyota or Honda! :-)

Julie's kia (julieab) Thu 13 Jan '00 (05:42 PM)
I have had my 1998 Kia Sephia for less than 1 year. It has already been recalled twice! The weather stripping keeps coming off. I had to have the locks replaced (they didn't work!). Also, I had to have the rotors replaced at only 15,000 miles. It's a pretty car and it was only $9,000, but still, that is $9,000...luckily, it's still under warranty!

problems... (ccgg) Mon 10 Jan '00 (01:02 AM)
I bought my 99 Sephia 4 months ago and after getting 2 recalls on it within 3 weeks I decided I should have the dealer check out all the 'little things' that I thought weren't right while I was there. Turns out I too am a victim of their brake problem and the dealer told me not to be surprised if I needed to come back in a couple months to have my brakes and rotors replaced AGAIN. I only have 5,000 miles on this car!! Apparently it is a well known problem by them. When I asked why it is that this brand new car has 2 recalls and bad brakes their response was "It's not like you paid 25 thousand for it" as if there is a need to pay that specific amount of money to expect quality. I am tired of people telling me that I didn't pay enough money to have such high expectations. That's certainly not what I was told when they sold me the car 4 mos ago! Even though they are fixing the problems for free my time is valuable and I don't want to waste another moment having to wait for my brand new car to be fixed! I am thoroughly disgusted with this car and I am glad to hear that I am not alone in the world. I will certainly ditch this car as fast as my warrantee runs out - and I advise anyone inquiring about a future purchase of a Kia to look somewhere else.

te5 (rymer69) Thu 06 Jan '00 (04:30 PM)
I didn't expect a corvette for the price I paid for my KIA, but I did expect a car that wouldn't almost kill my family due to its faults. Their motto is "Shouldn't everyone own a well made car?". See message number 412 for the list of problems with my car. I don't call this reliable! Don't say,"you get what you paid for" because this isn't what I paid for. $9,000 isn't chump change in my book, it's not a fortune either but I expect a decent car for that amount!

Taking Kia to Court (nangelsmom) Wed 05 Jan '00 (04:35 PM)
I have a 1998 Kia. I have had it in 3 times for rotor replacements. I produce a local photo ad channel and have placed an ad on to have others contact me if they are having the same problems. In one week, I have found 5 other people. I have contacted a lawyer in Seattle who is interested in taking up a class action suit against Kia. I would like to get as many people in on it as I can. If anyone is interested, Please e-mail me at
I would like to see Kia go under for producing a car that is put together so badly. It is dangerous and unreliable.
Please contact me ASAP!!!!! Thanks.

1998 KIA (rymer69) Wed 22 Dec '99 (07:25 PM)
I bought my KIA in June of 1998, since that time my car has been in the shop more than I have had it. Problems: 2 tail light mechanisms have fallen out, molding has flown off(front window,top of vehicle, drivers side back door molding came out),exhaust pipe blew a hole, expansion valve replaced(had to cut through dash to get to),fuel pump replaced, wiring replaced, ECM (brain) replaced, wiper recall. This vehicle has almost killed my family and I. We are currently waiting for KIA to decide on what they are going to do before the NEWS ways are hit big time!

MY KIA EXPERIENCE (aphrodite1) Tue 07 Dec '99 (07:09 PM)
I brought a 96 Kia Sephia used with 12,000 miles. When I got it it ran great good gas mileage I was happy. Within 4 days the check engine light came on, horn stopped working and brakes squeaked. I took it to the dealer, they said engine light was because of some loose wires so they resodiered them. Brakes and horn had to be ordered. Being a used car I did expect some minor problems so I was not upset. Everything under warranty. Well after the horn & brakes were fixed, 3 days went by and the check engine light came on again, this time they told my wife that the fuel cap wasn't tight, well even if there was a sensor for that I put gas in the car 3 times before I took it in for repair.... Anyway it came on again 3 days later, I didn't take it in this time because I didn't have time. The battery then went dead, when I replaced it the check engine light did not come back on.
Well now I have 48,000 miles on the car and this is what is wrong now:
1.First the engine started pinging, (Flushed it with all kinds of gas treatment) It runs great again.
2.Breaks are grinding
3.I have replaced all the tires twice(goodyears no less)I really can't figure this one out.
4.THE TRANS AXLES ARE GOING OUT (However I do believe this is covered under the 60,000mile drive tran warranty)
Before all of the last 5 happened I tried to trade it in. I WAS OFFERED NOTHING FOR TRADIN. $0 The dealer I bought it from said they didn't want it.
My advice to all KIA owners is trade it in as soon as possible, because once it is out of the 36,000 mile warranty you won't be able to.

Even more bad reviews


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