2003 Kia Rio from North America


Not a bad little car


Check engine light intermittently goes on and off.

After two years of ownership, all of the key locks, including the trunk, fail to open with the key.

Oil is constantly found in the third cylinder.

Electrical problems include flickering lights, door dinging sound when door is ajar has failed. Fuses had been replaced, but electrical issues persist.

Difficulty selecting gears after 70K miles had been put on the car.

General Comments:

The car was perfect until after two years of ownership, and then various problems occurred.

My key would not work in any of the locks after two years. I basically just left my car unlocked. The minute winter hit, I could not get my car doors to stay shut. I drove down the road holding my door closed while driving a stick. NOT easy!

The check engine light would go on and off. Each time I took it in to have it checked, the mechanic would tell me that there was nothing wrong with the car, and then would reset the light. Within two weeks, the light would come on again. After doing research, I was told that it was a faulty O2 sensor.

There were various electrical problems, like the interior lights flickering all the time. Eventually the interior lights failed all together. Replacing fuses did not correct the issue. Same thing happened with the dinging sound heard while the door is open.

The clutch failed at about 70,000 miles. I started having difficulty selecting gears.

There was an oil leak into one of the cylinders.

There were various noises coming from the front of the car. I took it to a mechanic three times to have a backing plate fixed, but the noise persisted. I finally just gave up. I drove the car until the problems were too numerous to invest money to have fixed.

I would say that it was a good value for the money. I bought it new for 5500 on a year end close out deal. I got 6.5 years out of the car and only replaced the front brakes, battery, radiator fluid, and tires. I also changed the oil religiously at 2500 miles. I got amazing gas mileage, spending only $40 a month on gas. I fear that I will never find a car again where I can get such good gas mileage.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 9th February, 2010

2003 Kia Rio Base from North America


Cheap car, expensive maintenance, unsafe buy


This car is very UNSAFE; at about 50,000 the door locks on both front doors quit working correctly. I have never seen actuators, that when they go out, they default to the LOCKED position. My wife had to get out of the car when she got home by crawling out the windows, which are also not so safe.

At about 45,000 miles the passenger side front window DROPPED DOWN INTO THE DOOR one day while driving. I mistakenly took this problem to KIA not knowing how much it would be or if it was covered under warranty. 200 DOLLARS TO FIX. It happened again to one of the back windows after about a month, so I pulled it apart to see what the problem was... it was a broken piece of plastic that moved the window up and down that was less than 1/4 inch thick anyway... I drilled a hole and put a machined screw with 2 washers... now it won't break, it's all metal.

Now at 90,000 I am getting a P0325 code (I hope I can get tune up and timing belt change NOT FROM THE DEALERSHIP to fix this problem.) This is a "knock sensor circuit malfunction"

General Comments:

This car is unsafe and not a good buy. I only listed the major problems, it has also had leaks, leaks with oil and leaks with antifreeze, also has had weather striping leaks... none of which were major and I fixed myself. The car has also had many idling issues and stuttering at start-up. The car also has lots of squeaks and rattles, and I think the struts are going out on the front (could be part of living at an apartment complex with speed bumps).

I say all of this and must also say a lot of the problems with the car should probably have been taken care of with regular maintenance, such as leaks and obdII codes. but I do want to note that I have a Chevrolet Silverado that is the EXACT SAME AGE. and have only had to replace O2 sensors and spark plugs and change oil. Runs like a beast.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 29th December, 2008

24th Oct 2010, 04:38

I have the exact same two vehicles, and the Kia has had to be the largest pile of junk I have ever seen.

Same back window falling issue.

No switches inside the car work properly.

I was also locked out, and the actuator would literally lock itself back down. You couldn't even hold the trigger up, because as soon as you let go, it locks itself again.

Brake fluid leaks horribly, and the part alone to fix this costs 300.

I have maintained and tuned this vehicle myself, including the timing belt (which is a hell of a job, and will never buy another car that doesn't use a chain).

Next time you're bored, do this. Take a white wet rag and wipe the front or rear bumper on your Kia and see how much of the paint comes off (factory paints jobs only now). The $2 you save buying this vehicle is not worth it at all. Like he said, I have a 2000 GMC Sierra; only problem I have had was the blower motor.

6th Jun 2012, 12:46

I also have a 2003 Kia Rio, and boy it is a piece of junk.

Locks would not work in the winter. So I took the panel off inside, and discovered that inside the locking mechanism, it is covered with plastic, and it was jamming the door. So I removed the plastic also when I took off the plastic cover inside the door. I greased the entire locking arm that seemed to stop the button from falling down; no more locking problems.

Also replaced the timing belt.

The engine light came on and stays on.. took it to many garages and manufacturers.. was told O2 sensor. Well I replaced them both 500.00 later, and the engine light is still on. Now I'm being told it is the plugs and wires, or maybe ignition... LOL.

Every now and then, she won't start. Was told it had something to do with the gear shift not being in gear. So if you shift it back and forth, then put it in neutral, then start it, it should start. Then again, my problem seem to be the starter and the belt.

The only thing I found good about this car, was it took a long time to rust. In fact it is now 2012, and it still has no rust. Well it could be that I undercoat it every year with road tar.

Even from a woman's view, this car is a piece of junk that my husband bought. I will never buy one of these cars. The manufacturer I think stuck their head in the sand to hide, because they never offered any help or assistance with this car.