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Limited budget, what order should work be done?

I am living on a very restricted budget but need to have a few things done on my 2002 Kia stationwagon with it’s 136,000 miles. Items needing to be done:

1. Front brakes, have been inspected and need new pads and roter. Not in danger situation yet but heading that way. Cost I am looking at is around $200 total

2. Serpentine belt is aging and needs replacment. cost I am looking at is around $70

3. Transmission fluid needs changed out and new filter and screen put in. Transmission running fine, fluid is s light red/brown color and unsure when last fluid exchange was done. Cost I am looking at is around $120

I can do only 1 thing at a time and about only 1 item per month, so in what order should I get these things done.

$200 sounds pretty good for new pads and rotors. You can’t put off brake work. Are you sure you need new rotors though?

You could save a lot of money if you could drain your own tranny fluid, change the filter, and refill it. How about just drain and refill it and skip the filter for now?

Can you change the serpentine belt yourself? You can probably buy one for less than $20.

I would do the transmission lid first. If this is the first change, then change it and say a prayer at the same time.  Far too many transmission fail because the fluid was not changed soon enough.  It seems many modern cars come without and specific recommendation to change that fluid.

Can you do any of this yourself? If you feel comfortable with that, the serpentine belt is the easiest and can be done in about 1/2hr depending on accessibility. Then, I would move on to the brakes, also one of those things that you could do yourself. CAUTION: IF YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT YOU ARE DOING DON’T WORK ON BRAKES!

I reason that you can buy a new tranny, but you can’t replace yourself or anyone that happens to be in front of you.

I would not wait long to do the tranny, because you are already overdue, and I think between the trans and the belt I would do the tranny first assuming you won’t be doing the belt yourself.

JMHO, maybe someone else will disagree.

If it ain’t safe to drive you shouldn’t drive it and if you have a brake that is already metal to metal it AIN’T SAFE. However, if none of the brake pads are metal to metal and the rotors are serviceable you might replace the pads and move to the next problem. But not having the car in front of me I can’t really give you more than a dirty fingernail guess and that would be the belt if it has 136,000 miles and warn that if the timing belt has also been neglected it should jump up to ASAP status.

A) I have zero ability to do any of the work at all.
B) The brakes need to be done, but are not at life and death at this point.
C) Timing belt is on list, but best rate on it’s replacement is at about $475 right now so it will have to wait till December when I get bonus check
D) Bought van about month ago, so no real idea when previous work was done. Overall van in great condtion and belt (serp) is worn, it’s not in horrible shape so I have to assume it’s not the original.

You were in the market for an inexpensive vehicle, right? How much did you buy this van for?

It was $3500, and i got $400 in trade for my tarus with the bad engine. So far it runs great, and looks to have been a 1 owner vehicle. 1 year of payments and I own it.

If you have no idea what the history is, replace the front brake pads and the one rotor first, before it becomes a much more expensive repair. The next repair should be the timing belt and the water pump at the same time. A timing belt failure while driving could mean the end of your engine, and the water pump is a part that needs to be removed to get to the timing belt, which should be replaced every other time you replace the timing belt. The low mileage for the replacement of the timing belt for any car is around 80,000 miles. The water pump is around 150 k. I would assume if I were you that neither has been done yet.
The serpentine belt will hold it’s own until you hear it squealing in colder weather. The part actually costs around forty-five dollars retail, and it is not so easy to install, as it requires a feat of strength to get the belt snugged onto the final pulley. Doesn’t matter, since you won’t be doing the work yourself.

If the serpintine belt breaks you’ll know it quick. No harm done and you just replace it, so I’d wait on the serp belt for now.

Brakes are critical, but apparantly aren’t grinding yet. You can wait, but not long, likely another month will be ok.

The trans is in question because it is a new to you car. I’ll get this done first. The trans is the 2nd most expensive item to replace on a car, motor being #1. You want to take car of that trans.

Trans service 1st.

Brakes 2nd.

Serp belt 3rd and perhaps a good time is when timing belt is done.

Good luck with the new car. $400 for the bought at auction, won’t last a few months, bad head gasket, turned in over a year later Taurus isn’t bad at all.

I agree with UT ^

The timing belt/water pump is on my list, but given the costs, it will have to wait till december when my cash flow increases a bit. The serpentine belt is about $15 at autozone and I believe I can get it installed for about $30 labor, so may go that route first as it is the cheapest.

thank you i was leaning that way till I got a price last night to do the serp belt for a grand total of $45, which on this paycheck round I can squeeze in and then on the next paycheck round squeeze in the trans.

I agree, I would be concerned over the timing belt if hasn’t been changed in 8 years and 136k miles, considering Kias are known for having timing belts break before the recommended replacement timeframe, I think the OP is on borrowed time. The engine in the Sedona is an interference engine as well. I don?t think I would?ve bought a vehicle without any service history, that was made by a company that was making decidedly unreliable cars at the time. I think a used police car would?ve been the better option frankly.

But as for the maintence that the OP listed.

I would do a transmission fluid change first, the brakes 2nd, and the serpentine belt last. However the timing belt should be the fist thing done IMHO.

Actually there was a pretty decent “history” in the car as the previous owners left a good amount of paper work in the glove comparment. They did a very good job on basic maintance and I believe would have changed out the belt when called for as to not void the warrenty. The overall condition of the van is excellent given it’s milage. As for all the reviews I read on this vehicle and such, the only 'issue" that came up concerned the alternator, all other reviews were very strong.

You may want to read what some Kia owners have experienced with timing belt fiascos

Can’t get this web site to load, is this just Kia in general or on the 2002 kia sedona mini van?

Kias as a whole, mostly Rios, but all models are represented. Apparently many Kias prior to few years ago, are prone to early timing belt failure and it turns out that timing belts are one of the many things not covered under their 10 year/100k warranty.