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2002 Kia Optima

I recently got my first car and was wondering what the best performance upgrade would be to start off with. I know not many products are make for KIAs (unlike Honda) but is there another car that is similar for future references? Thanks

The best thing that you can do for performance is to keep the car maintained at least as well as the manfacturer’s maintenance schedule specifies. I have seen too many people who tried to boost performance, proceeded to “flog” the car as a result of some modifications, but then failed to maintain it properly.

Heavy use of the gas pedal + maintenance that is not as good as it should be = a short life for the vehicle.

As an example of what I mean by “at least” as well as mfr’s specifications, take the example of transmission service. Some manufacturers apparently fail to mention transmission fluid and filter changes in their maintenance schedule, or they stretch this service to very high mileage and time limits. Instead, changing the fluid and filter every 25k-30k will help to ensure that the transmission remains trouble-free.

Another possible area for upgrade is the interval for changing the engine air filter. Unless you live in a totally dust-free area, it might be a good idea to change the air filter more often than Kia specifies.

And, let’s not forget about oil change intervals. A very high percentage of the population should be using the “severe service” maintenance schedule for their cars, rather than the “normal service” schedule for their cars. Reading the details of what constitutes “severe service” may enlighten you and may cause you to change the oil in only 4,000 miles, rather than 7,500 miles.

Also–consider this question:
Since someone else (or perhaps several people) have owned this car before you bought it, do you know whether it has been maintained properly for the past 7 years?

Unless this car came with full maintenance records, the possibility exists that it has been badly maintained, and any attempt to boost engine output has the potential for a quick end to this car that is already at least 7 years old. A 7 year old car that has been poorly maintained is going to need a lot of repairs in the near future, so it might be wiser to save money for that eventuality, rather than blowing it on performance modifications.

Another factor to consider is that a vehicle that has been modified will have fewer potential buyers when it comes time to get rid of it, simply because most people realize that a vehicle with performance mods has probably been flogged a lot. Kias don’t have the greatest resale value to begin with, and modifying one has the potential to really reduce the resale value of the vehicle.

Alright, there was one previous owner and it was maintained fairly well. I get oil changes every 3,000 miles (high mileage) since the car has 123k on it already. It works fine, I’ve bought new tires and am going to get them rotated soon, and I have changed the previous stock air filter with a cone filter like a short ram intake. I plan to keep the car for a while, but I am looking forward to really making it my personal car, and upgrading the engine etc. would be my next step. Any suggestions? I don’t plan to kill the car, and I have read all over about everything you have mentioned, I’ll be careful :]

Don’t waste your time. Kia’s are not performance cars. They are basic transportation. You can add a CAI, exhaust, and get custom dyno tune, and it still won’t be very fast.

ugh, thanks for all the help guys.

Make sure the timing belt is on schedule, both mile wise and month wise. Also pay attention to the tranny if automatic. It would need special Kia ATF.