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. 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.

  2. SOLUTIONS FOUND online for the no crank/no start of KIA Sorento, KIA Carnival and Hyundai Entourage models.

    We've had the same problem with our 2007 KIA Sedona (bought new) suddenly not cranking when trying to start, although the lights, dashboard, radio, etc., all work when it will not crank. It is NOT the battery and NOT the starter. The problem definitely seem to be related to the anti-theft system built into the interior fuse box in the lower dashboard area, near the driver's left knee.

    • WORKAROUND SOLUTION: THIS DEFINITELY WORKS INSTANTLY AND IT IS EASY! This has worked for me on multiple occasions. Open the interior fuse box cover in front of the driver's left knee. (A side note: In the 2007 KIA Sedona, there are also 2 other fuse boxes: one under the hood and in the back of the van). In the upper right corner of the driver's side, interior fuse box, there is a large block, which is the relay for the the alternator and generator. Pull it out, wait a little bit, and then plug it back in again. This resets the glitch in the anti-theft system, and then your KIA (or Hyundai) will magically start again! The relay has two flat slots and one "L-shaped" slot. Because of the angle when reinserting the relay, it's a little tricky to plug it back in, but just be patient and do not force it, or else you'll bend the prongs if they are not lined up properly with the slots.

    • PERMANENT CURE # 1 per some people: The NEGATIVE ground wire from the vehicle's battery is attached with a flat, metal end piece to a PAINTED part of the body under the hood on the front, driver's side corner, attached vertically to the top cross support with two bolts. Various people have said the the lack of proper metallic contact provides a poor ground connection, causing the intermittent, no-crank, no-start problem in the anti-theft system. The solution advocated is to disconnect the negative ground connection, sand or scrape off all paint down to bare metal area under the rectangular connection and reconnect the ground to the vehicle's body with the two bolts. Before reconnecting, it's a good idea to use "dialectic grease" to coat the bare areas to prevent corrosion, yet still allow a good electrical connection. I did that today (August 14, 2017), and only time will tell if it's the true cure. To do this, I think you'll need to remove the plastic shield at the front of the engine compartment...I had taken it off and set it aside years ago, since it really serves no valid purpose. If you do not have good access to the two bolts at the end of the negative battery cable, where it attaches to the vehicle's body, you can remove the battery bracket first, and then remove the battery (first, disconnect the negative terminal, then the positive + terminal...reinstall the battery in the the reverse order, connecting the positive + terminal FIRST, then the negative terminal).

    • PERMANENT CURE # 2 per some people: This one is much more complicated, and it involves disassembling the dashboard around the interior fuse box module, removing it the module, and adding a "jumper wire" between two components, taking care to connect wires to the correct places. I will only consider going to all of this trouble if the previous "cure" (providing a better ground connection) does not actually cure the problem. Here is the link to a YouTube video about that process:

  3. UPDATE - FAILURE: What I called "PERMANENT CURE # 1" did NOT work for our 2007 KIA Sedona. Within a day, it failed to crank again, and I had to pull out the Alternator/Generator relay from the interior fuse box in order to reset the system and get it to start. RATS! The dialectic grease, which inhibits rust, should not affect the ground connection, but I'm going to remove the ground connection again, clean off the grease, and re-attach it, just in case it improves the ground connection. I'd rather not try the other solution suggested by a few people (bypassing the , because it's somewhat complicated, besides being hard to work on under the dash.

  4. UPDATE: Removing the dialectic grease did not make any difference. We had the same problem within a day, and the frequency of the "no-crank, no-start" incidents has been increasing in recent weeks.

  5. The problem is well documented. a permanent relay on the board of the interior fuse panel develops resistance and sticks and doesnt switch correctly. The early stages it can be overcome with tapping. When the car wont crank...remove the fuse box cover...then while holding the key in crank position, simply give the fuse box a couple of pokes or taps to jar the will usually start. This is not a fix, its a temporary workaround. If you want proof of the faulty component. pin 86 of the START relay underhood gets 12v from the Alarm relay in the dash fusebox. connect a small wire into the pin port of the relay and reinstall the relay with the wire sticking out so the wire is touching the pin and can be connected to a voltmeter. What you will see is during a perfect START event, 12v reaches the start relay on the pin. During working but imperfect, it may only be 8 or 6v but the car will still start because that was "enough" to activate the relay. When it happens to switch at below 4v reaching that pin, the relay now has inadequate voltage signal which equals low/no current flow. No current equals no electrical activation force and nothing electrical can function. If you jump 12v to that wire at any time, car will crank as thats its job. Get 12v from the key switch thru the alarm relay and that signals it to activate starter motor relay which activates the starter.

    The fix is replace the interior fusebox to eliminate the faulty relay (it does not unplug, the alarm relay is a soldered circuit board relay. Yes its replaceable, but would take finding the part and above average skill with soldering).

    Ive tested it for voltage drop and current flow on many vehicles. There are no good solutions aside from replacement. You can skip the relay entirely by doing as the video instructs which connects the key switch directly to the start relay wire without going through the alarm relay. This will work, but its actually MORE work than simply replacing the fusebox. Only use NEW fusebox, any used one likely has or will develop the problem.

    Its not a hard fix, its not even a hard diagnosis if you know how the system works, where to test, and what to do.

    If your kia car wont crank, and a tap on the interior fusebox makes it crank, it is the fusebox relay causing the prob. Period. The other tests are further evidence, but that is usually enough to diagnose the issue in seconds with no tools or training. If a tap or solid thump DOESNT get uit to crank, then voltage drop checks of other components will be needed. Weve also seen failed starters, failed ignition switches, and park neutral switches cause no crank issues on Kia. But BY FAR, the fusebox is the most common cause of intermit works normal and sometimes no crank or click at all.

  6. So I had an alarm guy do the bypass thing with the wires under the front and it worked for a few months, than not. than I had another alarm guy put a relay unto the starter relay in the fuse box, the larger gray one, such that if you touch the contacts gets it to start and that worked for 6 months, now not.
    I had called Kia cust service and of course they disclaimed any problem. I will NEVER buy another KIA again.
    Tomorrow I am taking it to another alarm guy to see if maybe the relay fix got loose or to try to put in a "PUSHBUTTON" switch that bypasses all the electronics. He is skeptical that will work as the anti theft will trigger anyway but , hey, car thieves jump start cars with wires, why cant I? We;ll see. Meanwhile , a pox on KIA.

  7. Update: ALarm guy refuses to put in push button start without seeing the no start himself and I cant leave the car for days on end. In the cold at about 30-35 it was happening every morning and even in the middle of the day. Now that its 20 -3o in the morning, it starts right away! Crazy! Sometimes I put the car in neutral and it starts so it makes me think its the safety neutral switch and sometimes it doesn't so I don't want to throw away money replacing it. The alarm guy thinks its the starter solenoid, but its been starting lately , so?? My new trick is to get in the car, push locks down, (hoping to fool the anti theft immobilizer that Im not a thief), turn key halfway, step on brake, count to 10, and then start. Voila, last few days its been starting cold in the am. Maybe keeping the key in the detent position pushes through voltage? Who the Heck knows. Will keep you updated. I dont understand why a wire from the positive terminal directly to the solenoid on the starter, controlled by a pushbutton in the interior, shouldn't be the ultimate cure? But the alarm guy said no? Thoughts anyone??

    1. Thank you for posting and updating us. I have no understanding about why it's happening but appreciate those of you who are contributing here.

  8. thank you all for the info & updates. 2003 kia sedona ex I am so lost.... Where to start with the testing R., Sw. N ir Solenoids. . be back....

  9. 6 months ago, I finally decided to try the bypass solution documented in the video, and it worked, at least so far! I have not had any problems with the "no crank/no start" issue for the past six months. I have a 2007 KIA Sedona EX, and it does not have not all of the same wires shown in the video, maybe because of a different trim line or features on my vehicle. Still, I was able to match up the correct slots to complete the bypass. I left the lower dashboard panels off for a couple of weeks, before replacing them, to make sure that it worked first. I took a lot of step-by-step photos to document the process, the wiring, etc., and also to make sure I put everything back together properly in reverse order, but unfortunately, there's no way to post the series of photos here.