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2006 Kia Optima w/197k miles. Nothing is wrong, and thats whats wrong!

I know this post sounds odd but its true. My wife has a 2006 Kia Optima with 197,000 miles and NOTHING has gone wrong. Well almost nothing. We’ve only had to replace the water pump and windshield wiper motor. We have it the oil changed and fluids checked and topped off before the factory recommendation. We bought the car in 2008 with 15,000 miles. Most of her miles are highway, to and from work.

Now my question. Its starting to sound rough, like its getting louder at higher RPM’s. The ride was never smooth but it feels like the suspension is wearing out a bit. Should I risk taking it to a shop, having them look at it and tell me 1,000 that need to be replaced or fixed, or do we just let it ride until the wheels fall off? I feel like the old “if it aint broke, don’t fix it” saying applys here. I had a friend tell me I should have really had the timing belt replaced by now. So Im kind of at a loss.

You should pull out the owner’s manual and at least do the scheduled maintenance.

Most important is replacing the timing belt at recommended intervals. If the car still has the original timing belt, the engine is in danger of being destroyed. If the timing belt breaks, pistons will hit valves and do severe damage.

Check your receipt from the water pump replacement. Was the timing belt replaced at the same time? It’s common to replace both at the same time because the timing belt drives the water pump and must be removed to change the pump. But if your receipt doesn’t show a charge for a new belt, you’re running on the original belt and fortunate it hasn’t already broken. “If it ain’t broke…it will be soon!” And your engine will be toast.

At this mileage the coolant should have been CHANGED, not just checked and topped off. The sparkplugs should have been changed as well; check your owner’s manual. I’m totally surprised your wife was able to drive that far without a brake job as well.

I would budget $1500 or so to bring all the required and desired maintenance up to date. You are an accident waiting to happen. The posters here can give you further pointers if you tell them what your car need by that mileage according to the manual.

There is more to proper car and maintenance than changing oil and checking flkuids!

Sorry, I guess I should clarify a bit more. I know both she and I have had the breaks done, coolant changed out and flushed. She falls for that one at Jiffylube almost every time. I think she changes it ever 10k. Spark plugs, distributer, battery, spark plug wires have all been changed before. I guess I am just more surprised nothing major has happened.

When the water pump stopped working I don’t know if the timing belt was changed or not. Its been to long ago and I cant find the receipt for that work. Ill look over the owners manual when she gets home and start a list of things she SHOULD have done and what we know she hasn’t.

I cannot tell you what your car needs or does not need but one thing that is not needed is a coolant flush every 10k miles. Every 30k/3 years or something like that is acceptable.

I guess I take this as proof that even Kia’s can last to 200K miles. Freeway miles are obviously easier on cars, but still, that is a lot of miles.

@galant “Even” Kias. Kias, like Hyundais, were crappy cars at one time. Kia is now wholly owned by Hyundai and uses the same engineering and quality control standards. They are very good cars by today’s standards. Like Hyundais, the awful 1986 Hyundai Pony is a distant memory.

Public perception of car quality changes slowly; it takes about 10 years for a car to get a “good” image. Some people, especially those who don’t read much, keep relying on hearsay and miss improvements. Those, for instance, still believe Volvos are reliable cars! When my boss bought a Honda Civic for his wife in 1975, I knew it was a crappy car body-wise, since it disintegrated with rust with 2 years. Mechanically it was OK. After 10 years of improvements Civic were really good cars. Just follow the Consumer Reports rating to see how cars improve or, in some cases, get WORSE!!

General Motors introduced their “Mark of Excellence” campaign in 1964, the same year they CUT QUALITY to “just good enough” in many components. The rest is history.

There is an interview with the new GM president in the latest Business Week. She freely admits to the GM practice in the past of testing any component to survive in 5 years of average use!! She said they will be testing components much longer from now on. All these years foreign (Asian) manufacturers torture tested their components to make them last as long as possible in order to get the reliability and durability UP!!! Six Sigma quality control was pioneered by by the US electronic industry (Motorola) and Japanese manufacturers.

The term “continuous improvement” is just one word in Japanese “Kaisan”.

The names General Electric and Fridgidaire used to stand for quality and long life. Both deteriorated in appliances and electronics. GM sold of the division long a go; the name is now owned by Electrolux of Sweden.

GE sold of their division to Mabe of Mexico. We own a GE microwave, made before the sale of the division, and it’s a very mediocre (crappy) product. However, my late mother-in-law always believed anything GE was quality stuff.

“Now my question. Its starting to sound rough, like its getting louder at higher RPM’s. The ride was never smooth but it feels like the suspension is wearing out a bit.”

Sounding rough could be a leaking exhaust system, which you MUST repair if you want to keep driving it, you don’t want exhaust fumes inside the car. Or it could be other things, but if the engine is smooth my guess is exhaust system.

Worn suspension could likely be worn struts and shocks, although a rougher/noisier ride can also be caused by worn tires - how much tread is left? Are they worn evenly? How does it handle? Does it continue bouncing after hitting a bump (that’s be worn shocks/struts).

Yeah I tell my wife not to fall for the coolant and transmission flush they offer, almost every time she goes.

I, too, am surprised by this Kia. It really has me considering another Kia for our next purchase. Its not the greatest car, but its been a trooper. She used to drive about 200miles a day for work in this thing, up and down a mountain, and its held up pretty good.

An exhaust leak was what I went to in my mind as well. I don’t drive the car very much so Im basing it on what she has described to me.

The Kia still handles as well as it did when we got it as far as I recall. We just put new tiers on it about 3 months ago and they wear pretty evenly. It doesn’t really bounce to much after a bump. I ve also done the “strut test” by pushing down on the corners of the car really hard and seeing how much it bounces lol. Its more of a feeling like every bump and pea you can feel when you run over it.

Thank you everybody for your comments.

Have you checked your tire pressures? Some shops over inflate the tires, making the car ride rough.

I have not. Ill check when she gets home.

Stop going to chain stores like Jiffy Lube.
Find a good independent shop.
Try the “Mechanics Files” button at the top of this page, or yelp dot com.

My wife of 22 years has done the jiggy lube, never a problem, but I prefer a working relationship with a shop, and I have benifited from that relationship, even for getting her car worked on, like the time terrible clanking on road bumps, remove muffler clamp that came loose, put a new one on, no charge.

Some folks do ok with a “drive it until it breaks, then fix it” method. But I think it is less expensive in the long run to at least have all the routine maintenance suggested in the owner’s manual done, and done on schedule.

By the way you ask your question, it sound like you may not trust your mechanic, or mechanics in general. Leverage is what you need. The best way to address this is to get some recommendations of mechanics from your friends and co-workers. Then when you take your car to the one you select, tell him/her that so-and-so recommended you to them. Doing this, it will occur to the mechanic that if he/she doesn’t do a good job or overcharges you, then you will tell your friend, and their business will be lost too.

@Docnick; My comment was more tongue in cheek. I used to have a '97 Kia Sephia; got it because someone got in an accident and wanted to get rid of it. Had 80 K miles. I fixed the body and brakes and brought it up to date with maintenance. Then drove it to 130 K miles without any trouble. It was stick shift and got good gas mileage. Had to give it to my friend since I was moving coast to coast. I know that since the 90’s they are even much better.