A Morning at KIA Service Department

This morning, November 17, 2022, at 8.30am, I had a scheduled appointment at the nearest KIA Service Department to install the winter wheels. At 7.30am I go out of home, enter the car, insert the key, turn on the panel, and try to start up the engine. A squeaky repetitive sound answers from the other side and the engine just doesn’t start up. I tried once, twice, thrice, nothing … she just doesn’t want to go…

A bit of context: my car is relatively new, I bought it (with a 96-months loan, that’s 8 years!) in March 2022, so she’s 8 months old, and marks 7300 km on the counter. She is a KIA Rio, in yellow colour—the reason for the choice of this colour if you ask for it!—petrol engine, 1.2L, 84hp. Ordinary car, worked beautifully until yesterday, never a hint of what was going to happen.

The Assistance Procedure

With the purchase of a new car, KIA (as many other car manufacturers) offers 3 years of complimentary free road assistance, in addition to their excellent 7-years-long insurance up to 150,000 km! I called their Green Number and waited. They asked me whether I needed towing (1) or a substitute car (2). Pressed (1). They asked me whether I was on a highway (1) or in an urban context (2). Pressed (2), as I was just in front of where I live. An automatic voice prompted me to follow the instructions in the SMS.

I opened the SMS in my iPhone’s Messages app and clicked on the link found within, which opened in Safari. Whoever programmed that website didn’t make it work well with Safari, so I had to start over in Firefox. This is not the first time that a website just refused to work on iPhone. I completed the procedure in Firefox and got the welcoming screen saying:

The case is completed. We are coming to assist you. Your case number is: …

I stayed 45 minutes in the cold, walking in front of the car—inside was equally cold—and waiting for the truck to come. It didn’t … I called the assistance again, they told me the case had been assigned to a local agency, and that the usual turnover was 30-40 minutes. 20 minutes later, the truck driver calls to tell me he will be there in 30 minutes. I decided to go back home and try to get some heat.

I believe they took so long because they needed to find a yellow truck to match
I believe they took so long because they needed to find a yellow truck to match

The Trip to Service

Ready to go!
Ready to go!

After completing the towing, we left together aboard this 25 years old truck, headed towards Cuneo, where the service center was located. The driver asked me if I was sure to go with him because, if they didn’t have a substitute car, and the repair had to take longer than a day, I would have been on my own. I was certain that my warranty included complete coverage but, as you will see, I would have been so wrong.

During the trip the driver, a kind and nice guy around 40 years old, explained me many aspects of present day’s car selling business. They are also demolishers, and he told me how they are often obliged to dismantle cars with 50,000 km, in excellent conditions, just because dealers offered the owner some money to get a new car. And they are obliged to just destroy the car, they cannot send it abroad, make it disappear, resell it as used, no, nothing, it needs to be broken into pieces! …and to this, I ask for the first time: and we really have to care about how we differentiate our garbage?

Then, the trip was 30 minutes long, we discussed electric vehicles, which are now being heavily marketed all around the globe. He told me how, in the past ten years, he attended many courses on how to manage those cars, how to repair them and, most of all, what NOT to do! In these courses, on the first day, you do nothing else than ER (Emergency Room): how to treat someone who got electrocuted, how to avoid consequences of the magnetic field the car is constantly enveloped in, etc … You possibly already know that those cars are filled with high-tension cables and that, in case of an accident, you cannot just rip them apart to save those inside, as this could cause explosions or start a fire. Lastly, they were shown researches demonstrating the following:

  1. Producing a full electric BMW pollutes the environment more than producing the same BMW just with Diesel engine, and driving it for 300,000 km combined!
  2. If 50% of the world’s cars were electric, there would be no electricity left to even turn on a light bulb.
  3. The future of car fuel is hydrogen and, what a surprise, most patents for producing hydrogen fuel have been bought by Arabians, who know far too well that oil will not last forever. Definitely now it is not profitable for them to produce it, but take EU for example: they banned diesel cars production this year, and petrol cars production from 2035. What do you think will happen afterwards?

We finally reached our destination and the second chapter of this odyssey was ready to begin.

The Attitude of these people!

The reception acknowledged the issue and took away the car. I asked for the replacement car and the first cold shower (well, the second) came in freely:

Oh, no! We have none available.

Well, then call the assistance and make one come

That’s not how it works.

Oh, really? And how does it work?

You call them as you are the insured one, then go to the rent-a-car they choose and fetch the car.

And … how am I supposed to get there?

I don’t know… (read: your problem!)

The funny thing is that, when they are in the process of selling you the car, they are the kindest and most helpful people ever. When they need to do something for you with the money already safe in their pocket, then it’s a total new story.

I was then left two hours in the waiting room without anyone telling me anything at all. I saw cars come and go, people talk, come to take a coffee, as I just didn’t exist. In this room, there were a few posters attached on the walls praising the quality of KIA Customer Service, and Kia Family Care.

You can have fun translating it but, in short, the most important points are:

  1. They will give you a car if the repair is not hasty
  2. They will welcome you warmly, introduce you to the “doctor” who will take care of your car
  3. This “doctor” will “visit” your car and explain to you what was wrong and what your best options are.

Well, if they wanted to copy Apple marketing, they could have avoided copying the most nauseating parts. In short, nothing of this happened today!


After almost two hours of analysis, I saw my car rushing out of the working area like a lightning, and … she was gone. They had gone to try it out on the road, the assistant told me. I asked what was wrong with it, and she told me the issue was that cylinders were full of petrol. Please pause a second and think about it. Cylinders got full of petrol between yesterday afternoon and this morning, while the car was stationing in the parking lot of the flat where I live, and this all alone and by themselves! But let’s assume this makes some sense.

They unbuilt everything, cleaned the cylinders, dried the injectors, started it on the bench, everything looked fine after that. Subsequently, they added—even though using a quite rude and mocking tone—that the car’s engine was “sleepy”, that the particle filter had 2 grams of residue instead of the 0.8 expected grams (!), and that my not “pulling the gears” (as we say in Italy, which should be getting the engine’s RPMs higher than 3-4.000 RPMs) could have been the cause for that. So, eventually, it was my fault, right?

Now, a few considerations:

  1. The car behaved beautifully until yesterday evening. It stopped just fine, and this morning had petrol in the cylinders? Strange to say the least…
  2. When I got it in March, I was recommended by the salesman not to ever pass 3,000 RPMs for the first 1,000 km. Now the car has 7,500 km and I have pushed it beyond that many times (seldom beyond 4.000, though, as I don’t like driving too fast).
  3. The user manual says that the driver should not stress the gears too much in the car’s first year of life
  4. The on-board computer keeps suggesting a higher gear constantly, and that is very annoying for a driver like me used to old-style cars. At 10-15 km/h I get recommended 2nd gear (fine to me), at 25-30 km/h 3rd gear (too early for my taste), at 45-50 km/h 4th gear is suggested (much too early!). 5th gear is already suggested at 60 km/h (unacceptable…).

I am a trained classical musician, and when, 17 years ago, I got my driving license I learned to listen to the engine for when it is asking me for the next gear. In my experience with previous cars, I would usually get 2nd = 20, 3rd = 40, 4th = 60, 5th = 80, or the whereabouts. My experience with this Rio is that the first three gears are very “short”, and then the fourth gear is extremely long. That is that I feel the engine asking for 3rd gear already at 30-35 km/h, 4th gear at 50-55 km/h, and then no need for 5th gear up to at least 90-95 km/h (that is when the engine goes to 3,000 RPM more or less).

This is to say that, if one listens to the onboard computer, in theory, one should have petrol in the cylinders every day. If one doesn’t, then the Kia support will probably tell the driver they should have. The user manual keeps saying that anything the user does outside what is written in there is on their responsibility.

One extra thing they said was:

Your average fuel consumption is 1 litre every 21 km! It is too low, you are putting the engine to sleep.

I found this ridiculous. This car has an excellent fuel consumption, but I have never kept it too low for fear of consuming too much. And beside that: who are you to tell me that I am consuming too little fuel? Your cars should be good performers and that’s it. In any case, even when I get the computer to say that I have average consumption of 1L / 24 km, I never get to that. The tank gets emptied after 780-820 km, and it is supposed to have 40 litres of regular fuel and 5 litres in reserve. Even if I had a consumption of 20 km / L, I would need to get to 800 km before reaching reserve, and 900 km after that. This never happens.

Bottom line

Since they said that the CPU didn’t have any error, nor showed any issues with any mechanical or electronic part, they admitted not having an idea why petrol had ended up there. They were probably just frustrated for not knowing what was going on and felt like shouting at me just because.

Regardless, I drove home pulling every gear to 3,000 RPMs before changing it and all I got was a lot more smoke from behind. Let’s hope that, tomorrow, she will start just fine. Otherwise, she will need to go back there. I am not going to accept anything less a perfectly functioning mean of transport.

Please share your experience on the subject in the comments here below, I truly appreciate your input.

Today’s article has been a deviation from my usual music articles, but I needed to write this down to clarify how I felt and what had happened.

Thank you for bearing with me.

Published by Michele Galvagno

Professional Musical Scores Designer and Engraver Graduated Classical Musician (cello) and Teacher Tech Enthusiast and Apprentice iOS / macOS Developer Grafico di Partiture Musicali Professionista Musicista classico diplomato (violoncello) ed insegnante Appassionato di tecnologia ed apprendista Sviluppatore iOS / macOS

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