Dying Kia Rio...What should I buy?


The information about my car is not my question…just some warning for anyone considering purchasing a Kia. See question below.

I bought a used 2003 Kia Rio about 3 years ago. It has 48,000 miles on it and is out of warranty. It stalled twice about a year ago but both times it started up again without any action. I took the car to Kia repair while it was under warranty and they “could not duplicate the problem.” I am not kidding about the next part…the warranty expired a week ago and it stalled yesterday for the first time in a year. It actually stalled in traffic and could not be restarted for about 20 minutes. This happened once on my way to work and once on my way home from work. Both times left me in the middle of traffic with people honking and yelling and speeding by (and of course, I felt like an idiot the SECOND time). I am now terrified to drive the car.

My first question is, do you know anyone that you hate that might buy a used Kia?

My second question is, what car should I buy next. Budget is about $10,000 and used is fine. I want it to be super-safe and have limited mechanical issues. I would really prefer something that doesn’t even have a computer. It needs to easily fit one or two carseats. It needs to last 10 years and get good mileage because I drive about 60 miles per day (commuting). I know this is a tall order but you’re the experts.

I’m no expert, but it sounds like need a reliable four car that gets good MPG. A used Corolla or Civic would fit that bill. For ten grand, however, there are a lot of different options - older, larger cars or vans.

I would add a Mazda Protege or Mazda 3.

There are a large number of parts related to the emissions, such as computer, cat converter, and a lot of other stuff. Fed law requires that this be covered to a longer time frame, maybe 80-100K miles, just look in your owners manual. I had an independent shop send me off to the dealer once when they discovered the computer was fried and there was a couple of thousand miles still on the warranty. Cost for new computer was zero.

One question I would have would be about restarting the car. Did you try depressing the accelerator pedal while attempting a restart?

You will not be able to find a car without a computer, unless you want to drive a 30 year old car. Most cars these days have multiple computers, but the computers are not the problem. Actually, the computers are one of the reasons cars run as well as they do today. If you’d driven cars from the 1950s and 1960s you’d appreciate the reliability of today’s cars.

You should shop for a car built by Toyota or Honda. There are many within your budget. The Toyota Corolla is perhaps the most reliable vehicle on the planet. The Toyota Camry and Honda Accord (and Civic) are in the same category. These are your best bets, but you still have to shop carefully. There are Toyotas and Hondas that have been abused and neglected, and you don’t want them. Find a good one and you’re set. Buy a bad one and it can be a nightmare, just like any other brand.

I’ve had good luck with Mazda vehicles, and have no problem recommending them. Toyota builds the Scion line, and they very reliable, too.

There are some Nissans that might fit your needs. The possibilities are many. Shop around and do some research on reliability. Consumer Reports is a good place for information about automobile reliability and related issues.

Well, you had me right up until “no computer.” That makes this 10 times as hard to answer. Almost any car you buy that’s less than 20 years old will have SOME sort of ECU.

If you’re willing to ignore this requirement, Honda Civic. You should be able to find many for under $10k. It’s probably a step up from this Kia.

No computer? Ummmm. '62 Dart?

Take it back to the dealer and contact Kia. If you have documentation that it occurred during warranty period but not corrected it typically can be covered after warranty.

Obviously, due to buying a Kia, I guess that you aren’t a car expert. If you are truly at square one with cars, I recommend that you become a Consumer Reports expert and learn all you can from them. A subscription costs $26. You get the recently published buying guide which has a value of $9.95 or zero depending on your point of view. Since your point of view is from a Kia, I think you can get the full $9.95 value. Then; Oh joy! the annual auto issue comes out as an April edition. This will get you to square three in one easy step. You will be on the road to economic success due to a lifetime of GOOD BETS. You could save from $50,000 to $ 80,000 in your lifetime. Sounds funny, but if one of those good bets lasts for 220,000 miles, you will avoid buying an entire new car.

No, I didn’t press the accelerator. The first time it got restarted, the cop that was helping me was pressing all the buttons and turning the key so I can’t say what did the trick. The second time, I got it started after turning on the windshild wipers. My husband thought it could be a battery issue (one of the connections had some corrosion) but this theory doesn’t really make sense to me because the four-way flashers and headlights never failed the entire time. I should mention that the engine wasn’t even turning over. I would turn the key and click click…nothing.

the problem with H/T is that you’ll likely get older and/or more miles for your money
http://community.cartalk.com/posts/list/743823.page granted it’s Canadian currency, but it does give you an idea of what to expect.
As for a 50~60s car, my Chevelle was very reliable, i just had to replace the sheet metal around it, did nothing to the engine/transmission save for oil changes. the only time it ever stalled on me was when I had adjusted the carb too high.

You can save the subscription price to Consumer Reports by going to your local library. The internet also has information that you can use.

Chevy Impala. You can get them a couple years old for under $10k. They have plenty of room, cheap to insure, reliable, and so far with my 01 Impala, I’ve been averaging over 30mpg on the highway. By the way, I commute about the same distance you do - and the Impala makes the commute that much easier.