Warranty problem regarding a blown engine on a Kia Sedona

We bought a used 2005 Kia Sedona with 59,000 miles on it and purchased a warranty for an extra $2000. Last week we had the van in the shop to replace the ac compressor and the head-gasket. The next day on our way to the beach for vacation the engine blows, (think the block is cracked as there was coolant leaking out, all hoses and lines look fine). Anyhow, the warranty folks say they won’t cover it since we hadn’t replaced the timing-belt at 60,000 miles, (which is true, bad-move on our part). However, the timing-belt is intact; it appears it’s loose which is probably an issue with the tensioner-pulley. Do I have a leg to stand on and do I go after the warranty company or the repair facility?

I’m No Lawyer, But I Know Those After-Market Warranties Can Be Tricky, Usually Written In Favor Of The Underwriter.

Read The Fine Print.
Is there anything in the warranty paper that gives them an “out” if you don’t perform certain maintenance? Does it say that not replacing the timing belt (or doing other maintenance) in a timely fashion will render the warranty null and void?


There are too many unknowns and whys for me to be able to provide any kind of answer.
Why a low miles car needed a head gasket…
Why a timing belt kit was not installed during the head gasket swap…
Whether or not the problem is related to the work that was done…
The oil level in the engine at the time it quit…

There are others and as to 3rd party warranties there is usually a lot of fine print disclaimers desinged to keep the insurer off the hook.

Not sure, there is one statement that reads: “You must maintain vehicle in accordance with manufacturer’s published maintenance requirements”. But there is also another section that states, “Exclusions: any mechanical breakdown caused by a lack of required maintenance”.

Since we’ve had everything else serviced regularly, (oil, fluids, etc.), and the breakdown doesn’t appear, (at least to me), to be related to not changing the timing-belt, I would think we might have some leverage.

I really believe the repair-shop is at fault, as we hadn’t had any problems with the vehicle, (other than AC), and within an hour of them replacing the head-gasket, our engine decides to explode.

Lawyer Talk

I’m not sure if there’s a Lawyer Talk. I made that up.

ok4450 has years of experience as an automotive technician, including Subaru, I believe. I agree with him when he says there are too many unknowns to be able to answer your question.

“But there is also another section that states, ‘Exclusions: any mechanical breakdown caused by a lack of required maintenance’.”

In the entire context, doesn’t that just mean exclusions to being covered by the warranty, reiterating that not adhering to manufacturer’s recommended maintenance voids coverage?

Nobody here can diagnose the damage or its cause because they don’t have the vehicle to examine.

Ok4450 brings up valid points concerning some questionable things mechanics may have done.

I’m not sure about a Lawyer Talk, but perhaps legal advice is needed before pursuing Car Talk type car repair advice.

Any lawyers in the house?


10 yr and/or 60k miles is service interval? I bet it is <10yr. Some makes have very long time intervals but low mile requirements. What does your manual say?

It sounds as if the shop that did the head gasket screwed up. When the head is removed you should replace the timing belt and tensioner. Might as well do the water pump and seals too.

Seeing as how this happened so soon after the work was completed I can think of 2 options.

  1. The shop made a mistake in their work.
  2. There was a pre-existing problem which just happened to surface after the head gasket job.

The vehicle has low miles and should not have needed a head gasket unless there was a story behind the head gasket failure.

Did the car suffer severe overheating before the head gasket failed, was the engine oil contaminated by coolant, etc?
Did the head gasket fail severely; which means poor running, belching white smoke out the tailpipe, etc?

I downloaded the owners manual for your van and it said the timing belt should be changed at 96000 km ( about 60000 miles ) or 60 months.
If you bought the van over 60 months from its in service date, the timing belt should have been changed before the dealer sold you the car and the warranty and would not need changing again yet.
Since the booklet I downloaded said kilometers it may be a Canadian or other English speaking country one so check that the us one also says 60 months.
I think you have a good case.

Van is V6? Shop removes timing belt to remove heads. They inspect timing belt and tensioner and obviously need to adjust tensioner on reinstall portion of job. Tensioner fails soon after? Belt is ok? Stretched? Belt tension is loose? Manual says new belt at 60k. Heads are removed at 60k. Old belt is reused?

Here’s my thinking . . .

When the head was off, the shop strongly recommended replacing the timing belt, tensioner, idler, water pump, seals, etc.

OP refused, because they didn’t want to spend money out of pocket . . . their thinking being, “I bought an extended warranty, and now it paid off. Why should I spend money out of pocket. And besides, the timing belt still seems to be fine.”

Now they are regretting not spending a few bucks out of pocket

when did OP buy van? How many miles did it have when tensioner failed? Several assumptions here on things left unclear.


I think there’s quite a bit of information missing

But, as I said, I’m leaning towards that OP declined the timing belt upsell

Unless I hear otherwise

Agreed there’s a lot of info missing and with disabled vehicle in hand it shouldn’t take a mechanic very long to determine why things went south.
The timing belt could be loose because the water pump is, or has already, gone out.

I’m also curious if any upsell was declined. After all, upsells are nothing but a way for mechanics to fatten their wallets… :wink:

Heh heh

But every once in awhile an upsell fattens the mechanic’s wallet and also keeps the engine alive