Kia Sucka-Palooza

I suspect there may be a resurgence of the “thumbs down” feature after this post, but I’m in a bind, and any car and/or relationship advice would be greatly appreciated!!!

I need to decide what to do with my currently inoperative car. Should I fix it and hope for a few more good years before driving it to it’s death? Or should I float it out on Lake Superior and set it alight, putting it out of it’s misery with a Viking funeral?*


* This is more of a metaphor really… I wouldn’t actually shove my car into Lake Superior, as it would be horribly toxic for our water source.

First off, here’s the situation:
I have a 2002 Kia Rio automatic with 69k miles and a salvage title. Sometime before I bought it (probably when it was wrecked), someone installed the wrong transmission (seriously, how the fuck do you install a wrong transmission?!?). Instead of using a transmission for the 2001/2002 Rio model (1.5), they used one from a 2003 Rio model (1.6).
Fast forward six years, and the “improvised” shift cable snaps loose, rendering the car inoperable. The Kia mechanic said he was amazed that it had worked that long, and said it would be $400 (parts & labor) to install a new shift cable and “maybe” get it working again. Yep, maybe.

Even if I do get it working again, it will need additional work (needs new front & rear brakes, as well as new tires). In theory, once that is all done, it might be a (somewhat) dependable car, as I had already thrown $700 into having it looked over and installing a new fuel injector & timing belt. However, I’m not sure what problems may arise from having the wrong transmission installed (other than having the shift cable snap six years from now).

So at what point do I say “fuck it” and just give up on the car? I always figured that when the car died, it would truly be dead, as in a “you need a new engine” kind of way. My car currently is like some poor animal that is down to it’s last days and suffering miserably. Do I bring it to the vet for the expensive cure, or ask them to give the permanent nighty-night shot?

So if I don’t decide to fix it, then what? I could leave it in my front yard and let some dogs live under it, but I’m sure my neighbors have an opinion on that matter. Do I drag it to a junk yard? Do I try to sell it in on Craigslist – “Shitty Kia, $5.00 or best offer”? I’ve heard that car donations are sometimes accepted by charities – does anyone know of any local ones that would find a dead piece of crap useful?

And if I decide to ditch my crappy car, then what? I’ve saved up about a grand that I could throw into a cheap used car, but then I may find myself in the same situation, just a different color interior. Due to the financial fun of divorce, my credit is about negative 240 right now, so getting a loan for a nicer/more dependable car is not an option.

So do I just ditch the car and become free of vehicular burdens? I’m about 6 blocks away from any near bus stops. Walking downhill to get to one wouldn’t be impossible, but my mouse-potato ways would recoil if forced to walk uphill 6 blocks. I carpool to work with my boyfriend, but using his car for everything would make me feel like a mooch/kept woman. Prior to the Kia sucka-palooza, he had expressed interest in selling his car, but now says he won’t, even if I get mine fixed (he said something about a “rolling death-trap”…). So if I choose not to buy a car, then I end up feeling guilty for basically forcing him to keep his car.

In the end, I feel uncertain and super-whiney. I am privileged enough to have a job and transportation to get me safely there and back. I know in the grand scheme of things, my car isn’t really that big of a deal, but nonetheless, I feel stuck and indecisive. Any input would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!!!



about 15 years ago

Fix It!

Remember the freedom you felt when you bought your first car?  Are you really willing to give that up?  A car means independence.

Seriously, find a shadetree/backyard mechanic who will jury rig the transmission to work again.  Its just a cable right?  Put in a new cable of approximately the same length and girth and you should be golden. 

Don't be a part of the throw away consumerist society.  Your Grandpa would have fixed it and so should you.

Peace and love and fuzzy kittens,

P.S.  Would a Cuban or Chinese person in your situation throw away a perfectly good car for want of a cable?  I didn't think so.


about 15 years ago

First off, DON'T buy Kias. They're crap.

But, since you did, here's the scoop.

Most parts for those things are only available from the dealer, not the aftermarket. 

Prepare to pay out the ass.

Now, what kind of vehicle are you going to find for $1k??

Unfortunately, not a whole lot. However, I did see a Chevy Celebrity wagon here in Superior for $700 right on Hammond avenue. 

GM used that same basic drivetrain on a LOT of vehicles over 3 different makes. Therefore, replacement parts= cheap.

It won't get 30 mpg, but properly tuned, with correct tire pressure and such, should do mid 20s easily.

Barring that, find a Chevy S10/GMC S15 pickup. With 2 wheel drive and the 5 speed manual, they knock out 27 mpg in the city all day long. Also, tons of em out there, so replacement parts= cheap. Not a lot goes wrong with them, though.


about 15 years ago

I think the guys from Car Talk would enjoy tackling your conundrum.  Especially if you told them about your plans for the Viking -style funeral!


about 15 years ago

Sell it as a parts car and buy a Toyota.

Todd Gremmels

about 15 years ago

Find a good mechanic because sometimes mechanics will do switch overs on the side for cheap.


about 15 years ago

There are always ads in the newspaper for towing places that will pick up the car and pay you some cash, probably 200 or so.  I would not put any money into a car that has the wrong transmission.  You're asking for more trouble than its worth.  You can easily find an old Toyota Corolla or Camry in the 1000-1500 range.  Also, could you walk down the hill to a bus stop and get off at a different bus stop that is not up hill?


about 15 years ago

As a semi-proud kia owner, I feel like I need to chime in and say that they do not deserve the crap they receive. Please see: I got my 2002 Spectra in 2004 with 36,000 miles and am up to 115,000 without putting a dime into it other than oil changes, new tires, and break pads. All this AND it gets 30-36mpg on every tank.

Bad Cat!

about 15 years ago

If it were just a cable, I'd go ahead and do it, but replacing the cable means dropping the transmission, which I'm told is not a backyard kinda task.
Wouldn't I be part of the consumerist economy if I paid lots of money to have a car when I didn't really need one?
And my grandpa wouldn't have fixed it. One was incapacitated by emphysema for the last 30 years of his life, the other took off leaving behind his wife and son (as well as his debt).

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