Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Why Buying a KIA Van May Leave You Stranded

Please pass this information on to anyone considering buying a minivan. 

It appears that KIA and Hyundai minivans from certain years have an intermittent known start issue.   What this means, in English, is that sometimes the van will not start (the vehicle will do everything except start, which, in my opinion, is rather vital). 

This is a problem because the most common drivers of minivans are mothers of small children.  Here are the details:

Here’s what happens (video):

This particular time, it took four minutes to start. My wife took three separate videos of the same incident.

Problems with the Vehicle:
1)  This issue seems to most normally affect minivans past 80,000 miles (my non-scientific online research).
2) The non-starting (in my experience) lasts from 2-45 minutes.
3) The actual part that causes this to malfunction has to do with the vehicle theft deterrent system (Burglar alarm relay).  Even if you do not have an actual working burglar alarm the electronics are in place and still cause trouble. 
4) Customer service has said the part is non-diagnosable after the fact.  They told me that they cannot positively identify the problem when the vehicle is working. 
5) Customer service encourages that you have the vehicle towed to the dealership during a non-starting episode to verify the problem for a correct diagnosis.  The problem with this is that the non-start issue has never lasted longer than 45 minutes.  Thus, by the time the tow company is called to deliver the vehicle to the dealership the vehicle is back to working (see #4).

Problems with KIA service:
1)  (Off the record) they are willing to admit the part that is causing the problem. On the record there’s nothing they can do without a correct diagnosis.
2) They care more saving $328 (parts AND labor) than the fact that my wife and small children have been stranded.
3) They do not seem to understand that this cannot necessarily be duplicated at the shop.
4) I was actually told that we need to wait for it to get worse and then maybe they'll be able to duplicate it. So KIA customer service seems to be OK with my wife being stranded over and over before they identify the problem.

We’ve already had this part replaced. Last April, after we did a bunch of our own research and presented it to the service writer, he was willing to admit that this was likely the issue. We paid to have it replaced and for nine months the vehicle behaved. Then it started all over again.  While we were within the 1 year warranty, we were over the 12,000 mile limit by 500 miles due to our recent interstate travels to bury the daughter we were adopting (you can read about that here and here).

We’re not alone in this.  Here are some other owners’ comments:
(I did not include the names but found these on  I have also found similar comments elsewhere on the internet). ***For extra reading regarding some of the technical aspects, there is a service bulletin talking about this issue at the end of the post.

Comment #1
Ok all. Heres a stumper. My wifes Kia minivan was running fine. No issues whatsoever. well get the drift. Last week, we came home from grocery shopping. We went back out and wholla, it won’t start. It won’t even try to start. Battery is charged, everything on the inside works, etc. The dash looks like a christmas tree. every light is on

Comment #2
i have the same problem with starting my van at times it will start n run great months at a time but then at times i can run to the store ect n then wont start 

Comment #3

Comment #4
Ours does the same thing--and, of course, the dealership can't duplicate the issue. =( If we take out the fuse for the alternator and then replace it, it starts. Royal pain in the arse, but better than the sit-and-wait until it decides to start we were doing.

Comment #5
i have tried everything and its not working i just dont understand why Kia has not recalled this issue.

Comment #6
I dont think bypassing the relay is a viable solution, but it's pretty clear the fault is in the anti-theft system. I found that hitting the "unlock" button prior to opening any doors allowed the vehicle to disarm the theft system. I was then able to start my van. I have an 07 KIA Sedona with the same issue as above.

Comment #7
Had the same problem. Mine was out of warranty. There is a relay in the back of the main junction / fuse box which is defective. It's part of the alarm / immobiliser and cuts power to the starter motor when the vehicle is immobilised. The relay contacts seem to stick, making starting impossible. It generally cleared after a good whack or kick.

To fix it, I took the junction box out, opened it and found the relay. I soldered a piece of wire under the relay to bridge the contacts - worked fine. 10 minute job and no problem since (8 months).

There’s even a youtube work-around.

. . . that we’re out of warranty.  I understand that parts break and wear out.  BUT wouldn’t you think KIA would be dealing with a repeating issue on a vehicle that is designed for the transport of small children?

So to SUM UP,
---if you want a reliable minivan (one that starts) . . .
---if you want a customer service department that will take women and small children being stranded as a serous thing . . .

. . .  Then BUY ANOTHER BRAND.  Buy a Honda or Ford or Toyota.  AVOID KIA LIKE THE PLAGUE.

Also, on a purely personal and subjective note—If you live in the Salt Lake City Area I would not take my vehicle to Jerry Seiner KIA.  The service department is either unwilling or unable to advocate for an issue that they appear to have a handle on.  Off the record they are willing to say that it sounds like the burglar relay. On the record there is nothing they can do because they can't diagnose it without duplicating it (even with video evidence). Additionally, my impression was that they were extremely disinterested in what we had to say which came across as patronizing and condescending (particularly to my wife).

PLEASE CONSIDER passing this information on.  Particularly all of you other mommy-bloggers who may or may not be driving a mini van.  Any light that you help shine on this issue would be incredibly helpful for us. Unfortunately, sometimes big companies only care about "us" little people when the bad press gets to be too much . . .

Like HERE.
Maybe next I'll write a song.

Perhaps it’s my fault for buying a KIA which can be an acronym for Killed in Action.

Service Bulletin:

I believe this is the information relating to the issue. Perhaps only dealers have access to the actual bulletin, but this at least has the reference #'s:

NHTSA Item Number: 10022961
Service Bulletin #: 012
Replacement #:
Vehicle/Equipment Make: KIA
Vehicle/Eqipment Model: SEDONA
Model Year: 2006
Date of Bulletin: 2007-09-01
Date Added: 2007-10-09

Kia Technical Service Bulletin
A bulletin for 2006 and early 2007 Sedonas with Intermittent No Crank exists. It is complex with a dozen pages, with pictures and arrows and lots of detailed text. It does pertain to the Start Relay, but the problem seems to be with the Burglar Alarm Relay (this is not a serviceable item) and is part of the IPM (In Panel Module). That Start Relay plugs into the IPM of which the burglar alarm circuitry is an integral part.

However, there is a procedure outlined in this bulletin to properly diagnose the problem. This is a fairly complicated procedure and the bulletin admonishes that it must be read in its entirety before beginning. Things can be messed up if the bulletin is not adhered to in all its details.

If the testing reveals that the problem is in the burglar alarm then the entire IPM needs to be replaced.

Using this TSB, a good technician, could obtain a proper diagnosis.

1 comment:

  1. Hv ths same problem with 2008 kia sedona. Bought it used, now I know why. It was still under warranty with 51k miles but dealer could not duplicate condition so no fix. Now with 71k miles, it happens daily. I called Kia customer care a few times, they told me out of warranty, take it to dealer, no comment on the thousands of owners with the same problem that can be googled. I did the shunt bypass of the immobilizer, worked for a week. See you tube video. I am now in the process of trying the other video of opening the fuse box under the hood and manually starting the starter relay.
    I opened the starter relay case with a sharp knife and cut away the tabs so I can put the cap back on. Meanwhile I bought a new relay at autozone for $17 and put the doctored relay in the car. Next time it doesnt start, i will switch relays and see if manual push of the relay switch will start the car. I also plan to put in a push button start that bypasses the whole anti theft module. Yes, someone might steal my 8 yr old car, but I also have an after market cut off switch and alarm so Im not really worried. I also have theft insurance and they would be doing me a favor as I cannot resell this vehicle with this defect. I cannot do unto another what someone did to me.