The Timing Belt on My Kia Engine Broke. What do I do?

If the timing belt on your Kia broke, you’re not alone. Kia is dead serious when they say to change your timing belt at 40,000 miles or 60,000 miles (this depends on the model – read your vehicle manual).  With a Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, Pontiac Grand AM, Ford Crown Victoria, or other engine, you can normally get away with much, much longer between timing belt changes . We recommend you change every 5 years or 60,000 miles or whichever comes first regardless of your vehicle type. This is industry standard, but most manufacturers build a big buffer into that standard. For example, my sister got close to 200,000 miles out of her Camry before her water pump locked up – that broke her timing belt.  Even Hyundai, who owns Kia and has interchangeability with some engines, seems to not have the timing belt problems Kia does. Kia just used belts with less life as a cost saving measure.

If your timing belt broke while you’re driving, and your engine was running, your valve train is shot. The reason is that Kia engines are “interference engines” 99% of the time, any money you spend trying to fix it is going to be a waste. Any money your mechanic wants to spend to take it apart and see whats up is a waste. Kia engines are considered throw away. Rebuilding is generally not a good option due to the cost of parts and labor, unless you’re doing it yourself. If you do get a rebuilt, I recommend a Jasper. They’re expensive ($3509 list price for a 1.6L 2005 Kia Rio engine when I checked on January 25, 2009), so you might want to consider a used Kia engine.  That’s my opinion, so check with your mechanic.

What I’m getting at though is that if your Kia timing belt is broken, you either need a replacement engine, an eBay auction to get rid of it, or a scrap yard journey.

Kia engines are not bad. When they are maintained on their maintenance schedule, they will last many, many miles. The good news is that Kia is going to timing chains on some of their current crop of vehicles, so this problem might be a thing of the past soon. Keep in mind that Kia isn’t the only company who uses interference engines. Audi, Volkswagen, Honda, and others use this design in some of their engines.  If you do have a Kia engine with a timing belt, change it 5-10,000 miles early. I do talk to customers whose timing belts have failed prior to the maintenance schedule.

If you need a Kia engine, we can help. We talk to customers every day in the boat you’re in. Vist our main page, lowmileageengines.com or call us at 901-266-9996. We’ll be happy to speak with you, answer your questions, and help get you back on the road.

  • Somebody

    kia sportage 1995-2002 2.0 DOHC engine is NOT an interference engine , many parts places incorrectly list this as an interference engine but it is NOT. I just fixed mine !

    • Anonymous

      Gates lists this engine as an interference engine. Given the number of Sportage engines we sell after mechanics are unable to repair them due to things like broken valve umbrella’s, I’ll ignore Kia and go with what I find. KIA might call it something other than an interference engine, but I believe it to be nothing more than marketing.

      I will give them credit, they have been taking on the timing belt issue and each year more and more of their vehicles have timing chains.

  • Iloopbari

    Why do people generalize so? Only some of the Kia engines are interference engines! You must specify the year, model, engine type (identified by VIN) before stating such things!

    • Anonymous

      People generalizing when giving general information is an effective to communicate general information. KIA has taken some steps to alleviate what was once a serious problem with their engines. This will trickle down into non-dealer mechanics and part sources over time.

      Interestingly enough, KIA’s strategy against timing belt failure seems to have been to switch to timing chains, at least in their “higher end” vehicles.

  • Chris

    I’d stay away from KIA entirely. I changed the belt in my 2004 at 96000km and it only lasted 30000 before it broke last week. KIA vehicles are a joke and should be barred from being sold anywhere in North America

    • Anonymous

      I cannot state my agreement for legal reasons. ;)

      To be fair, quality has risen sharply in the last five years.

  • Rebecca Wilson

    How can I tell if my 2006 V6 Sportage has one cam or more than one cam

    • mnbookman

      Rebecca,
      All 2006 Sportage 2.7L engines are DOHC – dual overhead cam. The 8th character of your VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) should be a “3″ in case you need to verify you have a 2.7L engine.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/William-Bell/100002299285376 William Bell

    Is the 2.7L in the 2007 Sportage interference or not? 

  • michelle

    i have 2008 sedona 68000 miles our tensioners failed and caused the timing chain to become  loose breaking more stuff and now they are telling me that my engine is  no  good. with all the stuff that broke it has cloged my  oil  and my engine had low oil pressure because of all of this but no gage or light ever told us  that we had low presure or anything ! we aren’t mechanics  but we have always changed our oil and fliters at  home   . not sure what to do

  • Missy Avery DeVoie

    What else should be done as routine maintenance while installing a used engine into a 2004 Kia Sedona ??

  • Hockeygoon

    The person who wrote the article above is ill informed and has no business giving advice.

    The DUAL overhead cam engine in the 1995-2002 KIA 2.0 engine is a non-interference engine. The SINGLE overhead cam Kia 2.0 engine is an interference engine. The engine has the same service interval that most belt driven cams have – about 60K miles.
    The Crown Victoria has a 4.6L SOHC engine with TIMING CHAINS – no belts. There is no service interval on the timing chain – keep the oil somewhat clean and it runs for several hundred thousand miles.If you keep the oil clean the timing chain will outlast the rest of the vehicle. The hydraulic tensioners in the Ford 4.6 are not as sensitive to dirty oil as many newer designs are but it can still be an issue if you are wanting long life.

    SOME Honda Accords had a timing belt that needs serviced every 60,000 miles – JUST LIKE THE KIA. You need to know which engine you have and what year to know.

    Some (most?) Camrys have a timing belt that needs serviced every 60,000-90,000 miles. You need to know which engine & year you have to know.
    In 2006 and 2007 Kia and Hyuandai introduced new and revised engines for most of their models. All of their V6s and most of their 4 cylinders engines switched to timing chains – essentially they nolonger have a service interval – keep the oil clean.
    Timing chains in MODERN vehicles are not as durable as they were in the 60s, 70s and 80s – mostly because they are doing more with much longer chains than they had in their older designs. Most modern designs now have hydraulic tensioners that are very sensitive to the quality and cleanliness of the oil. Many manufacturers are learning the hard way that the long service intervals (up to 8000 miles) they recomend are causing them issues. Chryslers’ 2.7 engine is a prime example. But others like GM’s 3.6 and Honda’s 3.5 V6 are all having issues with tensioner’s and sludge that have lead to catastrophic engine failures. Many times owners that claim to have followed (and many that can prove) the recommened oil change interval are being denied warranty coverage because the internal condition of the engine indicates “neglect”. Basically the 3000 mile oil change should be the norm – rather than a waste of money as many claim.