2002 Kia Sedona EX from North America


Great reliable family vehicle


Just routine maintenance items: Brakes, etc.

Had a right front end crash on the way home from the dealership, all repairs done well.

Lug bolts have broken a couple of times and lug nuts have stripped a couple of times, otherwise a very reliable vehicle.

General Comments:

The van has been extremely reliable. Nothing special about any part of it; just tried and true... always starts, always stops, always goes, nothing breaks that shouldn't.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 8th September, 2009

2002 Kia Sedona EX from North America


The car is a lemon


Master cylinder had to be replaced in the first year.

Left power window motor replaced the in first year.

Windshield cracked in the first year.

Air conditioner replaced twice.

Transmission replaced in the second year.

Right window will no longer go down.

Front passenger door only opens from the outside.

Sliding door handles on both doors fell off and can only be opened from the inside.

Leather seats are cracking.

General Comments:

This car has had many repeated problems. It does consistently start.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 1st August, 2009

2002 Kia Sedona from North America


It's been very good for us so far (146,000 miles), and I will probably buy another one, eventually


Alternator at 60,000 miles. Was under warranty and cheerfully replaced by KIA dealer, which gave us a loaner. However, they tightened the alternator tensioner arm too tight while doing so, and thus the new alternator failed a few days after the initial repair. Local KIA dealer bent over backwards for us -- diagnosed the problem and even admitted it was their fault, and gave us a free (new) Sedona van for a loaner, no charge, for a week to take on our vacation. Since then, alternator has had no problems, even though wife & kids often kill the battery by leaving odd internal lights on, and wife drives with "everything" electrical running, all the time, etc.

Bulbs for left front headlight (2x low beam, 1x high beam) at 20,000, 50,000, and 60,000 miles respectively), possibly due to left front headlight assembly becoming partially filled with water a lot. I have never had to change even a single bulb for the right headlight, however.

Sliding door mechanisms : Left sliding door mechanism hardware, after that door was struck in a collision at about 120,000 miles, which may have caused abnormal wear on bearings, etc. The door started "grinding" and becoming hard to close, and about 9 months later, the hardware failed, and door wouldn't close. Since I've neglected getting it fixed for the last several months, we've just locked that door and we don't use it now. However, about a month ago (143,000 miles) the passenger-side sliding door started doing it too -- grinding, and becoming very difficult to close. I will now have to go ahead and have the interior door hardware repaired. Given that my now-teenage kids often "slam" the side doors, and that I've never lubricated the door roller bearings, etc., this might just be due to normal wear & tear, but it is irritating, even at about 146,000 miles so far.

Right front wheel bearing started grinding faintly, then progressively louder, finally requiring replacement at about 95,000 miles. This may have been due to wife's (and occasionally my own) tendency to hit curbs and potholes mainly with the right front wheel, so I don't necessarily fault KIA.

Parking brake handle at 10,000 miles, i.e., in first year we had the car. Though a minor defect, this was due to defective design of screw that holds plastic "T" pull handle to the square metal shaft. I've never bothered trying to fix it, and just pull the square metal shaft to release parking brake, but I could easily thread a small "bead chain" or wire loop through the hole in the shaft to get a better grip when your hands are wet, greasy, etc.

Air conditioner system failed to cool, apparently having seemingly undetectable leak in system somewhere that allows its refrigerant to slowly leak away over the course of several months. KIA dealer here worked on it but couldn't find the problem. The Sedona was damaged sliding on crown of an icy road and crashed through a stout wooden fence, causing much of the air conditioner hardware to be replaced, but the problem has persisted. On wet, rainy days, the air conditioner will stop cooling, as if the compressor is turned "off". We've found that we can re-start the air conditioning and get it to start cooling again by stopping the car, turning off the ignition, and re-starting it -- then the air conditioner will start cooling again, so it must undergo some sort of "re-set" when we do that. Still, we need to get another dose of refrigerant added at the beginning of each summer. No one has ever been able to find the source of the microscopic refrigerant leak.

General Comments:

We bought this car (2002 KIA Sedona minivan) new in October, 2001, the first year for this model. Since then (almost 146,000 miles now), it has served our family well as a local "soccer mom" car and on long vacations, especially considering that we're really rough on cars. It's got decent power and good acceleration, especially for a minivan, and it has a nice, tight turning radius-- tighter than a '96 Toyota pickup I had for many years.

The Sedona is comfortable for entire family, except for me, as I'm six feet tall, and find the driver's seat just a bit too "high" for me -- it always feels as if I sit so high that my forward upper view is being blocked by the sun visor or top edge of windshield, and there's no way to adjust the height of the seat for me. I like the swing-down arms on the front seats. The electric sun roof has given us no problems, despite my trepidation at getting one.

We're more than half way through our third set of tires, and will be getting a 4th probably about 6 months from now, which will probably be at about 170,000 miles, which isn't bad. We could've squeezed some more out of the 2nd set of tires if we'd gotten around to getting front wheels aligned as soon as we noticed a tell-tale "pull to the right" back in 2004.

Unlike a lot of other entries on this website, I've not noticed any rust on the vehicle, but maybe that's because it's been in two wrecks and thus had new paint applied on the front and the right front fender.

We (I) also smashed the right mirror housing coming into the garage once, and it was replaced by dealer -- don't remember the cost, but it wasn't as bad as I was expecting, as parts for the car are pretty cheap.

I use only Mobil One synthetic oil, and typically change oil at about 7,000 miles, though it's true that through neglect (I don't drive it much, but wife does constantly) that we've been as much as 15,000 between oil & filter changes, which produced a heavy black sludge buildup, but engine still runs fine. I'm keeping up with her oil changes better nowadays, and the additional expense of using only Mobil One seems to be worth it.

Gas mileage has been about 15-16 mpg in the city, and in the low 20's on the highway. I get about 360-375 miles on a full tank before the fuel warning light stays "on" for keeps, and we've not ever run out of gas (yet) in the past 8 years. Last oil change I had some oil additive included (can't remember name, but I've seen the ads on TV) that "guarantees" 3% to 10% better gas mileage. I was skeptical, but it does seem to have worked, though I've not actually logged gas use vs. mileage.

This van saw our family go from small children in car seats to teenagers, and they've been hard on the interior upholstery and carpet with spilled cokes and milkshakes, cracker crumbs, ketchup drips, etc., but it still cleans up OK, so I guess that's a "good" recommendation from me.

Some of the cup holders, like the driver-passenger front cup holder at the base of the main console has been broken by us -- I wish it was more durable, but as I said, it gets lots of use and abuse. It would cost about $60-$80 to replace, so we haven't done so. The cup holder grips still work, so we just use the first aid kit and a book underneath to support the cups, and it's worked. My young son "gooped-up" the cup holder that slides out from the center bench seat, so that it doesn't slide out easily, but it's not actually broken. Overall, interior has been OK -- no rips in seats or fabric, nor worn-out patches, despite being vacuumed or washed only very rarely.

The rear fold-down seats are seemingly heavy, but they can be taken out or re-installed without much effort. I thought that they would be a pain, but they've been just fine. Now that one kid has gone to college, we usually run with one of the rear seats removed, for more interior storage for groceries, plywood sheets, etc. The headrests for the rear fold-down seats, when extended even a little bit, push against the rear hatch. KIA needs to make the car about 1 inch longer, or bow the rear window, or make the rear hatch thinner, or headrest shorter to prevent that, I guess.

About 3 years after we bought the car, we received notice of a factory recall for I think seatbelt retraction mechanism and something or other else, and the dealer took care of it with no problems. I don't remember exactly what the problem was, mainly because we had experienced no problems it and it was "fixed" with no problems.

We had the "Check Engine" light come on when the gas cap was left open. The only problem is that once it comes "on" the operator can't turn it off-- you have to take it in for a mechanic to do it. We weren't charged anything, so it was OK. We also had the "Check Airbag" light come on at about 86,000 miles, I think, but that was apparently simply due to the fact that you're supposed to get your airbags checked every 5 years. Nothing was actually wrong with the airbags, so I think the light only came on due to the car achieving the mileage where such a check would normally occur, so it came on as a "reminder" to get it done.

Get a heavy duty battery: I strongly recommend that any new KIA Sedona buyer be sure to buy the "Heavy Duty" battery (as I would for any new car, regardless of manufacturer) as typically, new cars of all makes come with an El Cheapo battery that will no doubt fail at some point about a year and a half after you buy it. That has happened to me with other new cars, but not the Sedona, because we insisted on buying the car with a "Heavy Duty" battery installed, even though the car salesman told us that was unnecessary, since we weren't towing trailers or living in extreme cold (as if it doesn't get darn cold her in Central VA). Two years ago 2006, at about 100,000 miles, I finally had to replace the original battery. This was actually pretty good, since my wife and kids have "killed" the battery on numerous occasions by leaving some of the various small interior lights on for days and days at a time. Get a heavy duty battery with any new car, and you won't be disappointed.

The small light for the rear hatch area can and does easily get switched "on" accidentally while unloading groceries, etc., and is virtually impossible for the driver to detect when it's "on", especially in the daytime, and it was responsible for a dead battery on many a cold Monday morning.

Headlight bulbs and left headlight housing seal: In the first 5 years we owned the car, we used to notice that our left front headlight was often half-filled with water, probably due to a defective seal. Eventually, this led to burned-out light bulbs -- there's one for the high beam and another for the low beam. Replacing the left front headlight bulbs is a minor pain, as there's no way to do it for a guy like me with big hands other than to remove the battery first. The first time I did it, it took me an hour and a lot of cussin' and scraped fingers. We've been through two low beam and one high beam bulbs on the left side. The last time I did it in about 25 minutes, which included putting the battery back in. The right front headlight never had this problem, and has never had to have a bulb replaced.

We had to have the "idle" adjusted once, at about 80,000 miles, as the car was idling at such low speed it seemed to be barely running, and would "surge" whenever the air conditioner compressor kicked on when you were idling in traffic at a stop light, etc. Since then, it's been OK, though I get the impression it's idling somewhat lower than it should these days, so I'll have it checked if it becomes more noticeable.

We've only had two major problems in 8 years we've had the car: The air conditioner has some sort of refrigerant leak, requiring an annual re-fill of refrigerant, and now, the sliding door hardware on both sliding doors has failed, though it took several months of "grinding" noise when closing them for this to occur. I've been after the kids for slamming them and treating them rough on a number of occasions, but still, it's only been about 146,000 miles for both to ultimately fail, so I consider this a weak point. Both sliding doors are currently inoperative, and if I slide them half-open, they would just about break off, since some of the interior hardware has cracked or is about to crack. I haven't found out what it will cost to get the door sliding hardware replaced, but will take the car in this week to find out.

Maintenance has been simple and straightforward:

Oil and filter change about every 7,500 miles (with Mobile One synthetic oil, though we've ended up skipping oil changes more than once) ;

New air filter every couple of years (we live in a heavily forested area, so there's lots of "tree dust" and leaf detritus that gets sucked up into the filter), and.

Brake pads about every 60,000 miles (you'll hear them start to "squeal" when the pads get down to the point where you need to start thinking about changing them -- the "squeal" is entirely normal. My wife used to be pretty hard on the brake pads, but in last few years she hasn't been. Now, with teenage drivers soon, I wonder if I'll be needing them more often.

We put on new tires about every 50,000 or 65,000, depending if you buy cheap tires or not. We get ours from Sears when they're on sale, and run them down to the "wear bar" before we start looking for tire sales. The radial tires (like all radials) do appear to the eye to be "underinflated" even at 32 psi recommended pressure, but so do all radial tires. I only mention this because one of the other postings on this website mentioned this as some sort of defect, but it's not -- that's just the way radial tires look. It's always a good idea to check your tire pressure now and then anyway, just to make sure.

We've had one new battery (another "Heavy Duty"). We almost never wash it, and vacuum the interior maybe twice a year at best.

We replaced the PCV valve once (I don't remember, exactly when, but it was in accordance with the recommended "book" maintenance interval). It's a cheap part that can cause problems if it's not done, so if you've hit the mileage where replacing it is recommended in the book (the Jiffy Lube guy, or whoever changes your oil, will probably tell you about it) go ahead and do it.

It's had a front wheel alignment three or four times -- usually at same time we get new tires. but once after wife had hit the curb on sharp corners or while avoiding big potholes, etc. several times and we began to notice that the steering pulled to the right. At other times when we've noticed it pulling to the left or the right, it's turned out that the front tire on that side was low (down in the mid-20's psi, and when we put the right air pressure in, voila! It ran straight with no pull again.

Overall, we pretty much just put fuel in it and drive, and change oil & filter twice a year.

Would I buy another KIA Sedona minivan? Yes, absolutely, but only when this one finally wears out, but it looks like it'll be quite a while yet. Since it's coming up on 150,000 miles pretty soon, so on any car of any make you'd typically you'd expect some components to start failing, like the water pump or maybe the catalytic converter or something like that, but so far, so good. I'm hoping that we can get another 75,000 to 100,000 miles out of it, at least.

A couple of years ago, I recommended the KIA Sedona to my sister and her family loves it, last I heard. A good "family-friendly" minivan with lots of stuff that's nice to have if you've got to deal with childrens' car seats, toys, winter clothing, muddy shoes, spilled milkshakes, etc. Hers is "all-electric", even the sliding doors, and has "disappearing" seat features, etc., whereas ours is much older. With an even more electrical system-intensive car than we have, she made sure to get the "Heavy Duty" battery, of course.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 6th July, 2009

6th Jul 2009, 13:59

This is the most intricate review I have ever seen on this website. Thank you so much!

15th Dec 2010, 01:14

Yes, thanks also for the detailed report. There are a lot of negative reviews about this van, so it helps to see a positive one (I'm sure the happy owners don't post as often as the ones who have problems). My parents are selling me their 2002 Sedona at a very reasonable price, and for a while (after reading the negative reviews) I was worried. Let's hope the one they sell me is one of the "better" ones!

16th Dec 2010, 05:33

Great report. We are considering a UK 2.9 CRDi LX of around 2005 vintage and have found this very useful.

We could not afford to run a petrol; only diesel or LPG converted petrol engine.

Any comments?