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Do you have to change the timing chain on your Kia Rio?

November 30, 2010 By: LemonLaw Category: kia

We have been seeing repeated issues with Kia Rio vehicles with timing chain problems.  If you are having a problem with your timing chain, we want to hear from you.  Please e-mail us and let us know your story.

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39 Responses to “Do you have to change the timing chain on your Kia Rio?”

  1. #1 sandra johngrass says:

    i bought a 2005 kia rio in march of 2010 since then i have had the timing belt changed because a co worker with same make and year car timing belt ruined motor. so i changed that and now 1 week ago my trasmission went in this car. it is still covered under my warranty but i have never seen such a thing. it only has 62000 miles on this car. i have no car and no rental on my warranty and we wont have it back for another week. very dissapointed in kia

  2. #2 Shanna says:

    I hear you. I have a 2005 Kia Optima. We replaced the timing belt even BEFORE the manufacturer recommended date (I think it was at 60,000 miles). Then at 112,000 miles the new timing belt broke and ruined the entire engine. so, over $3,000 later still driving it but am anxious wondering when it will go again.

  3. #3 Grace says:

    We bought our Kia Rio new in 2005. Yesterday the timing belt broke, killing the engine. The car has 88,000 miles on it. The book “recommends” changing the belt at 60,000 miles BUT says in California, change at 105,000 miles. We live in California. Kia is refusing to cover the repairs because the book “recommends” changing the belt at 60,000 miles. They refuse to honor the California 105,000 miles quote.

  4. #4 Roger M. says:

    We Brought a 2005 Kia Rio used in Aug of 09, had no idea on what was going on with the timing belts for this car, while my wife was on the way home from work, that car died on the highway, had to get it towed home only to be told that the engine frooze, started looking around for a engine and was unable to find one, then i had another come out to my house to look at it and that is when i was told that the timing belt needed to be changed, later that night i had received a call from the same guy telling me about the issues with the kia rio timing belts destroying the engine, now my high hopes are brought back down..

  5. #5 Cynthia says:

    I bought my 2005 Kia Rio new. I too, was traveling on the highway when my car suddenly just shut down, it cost me $150.00 to have it towed to a mechanic less than 10 miles away. I was told by the mechanic that the timing chain broke and went through the piston. After a couple of days searching, he found a rebuilt motor that had a 3 month warranty. Before I decided to purchase the rebuilt motor I called to see if maybe my warranty would covered or replace the motor, but wouldn’t you know it, my warranty had expired just a couple of days before the chain broke! oh,, and they did tell me that I should have changed the belt every 60,000 miles or 5 years which was just at the 5th year when the warranty expired! So, I had to take out a $4,ooo dollar loan, you read this right- $4,ooo dollars!! I wished this was the end of my troubles but guess what? now I need another, you read this right too, another transmission, the original one only lasted a year in a half before they had to replace it, the replaced one started slipping less than a year, the dealer where I purchased the car said that it needed a transmission oil change, which cost me a little over $100.00 dollars, this made it run smooth for awhile, but now the transmission is slipping again, so, soon I will have to replace it, but this one’s going to come out of my pocket (probably another $2 thousand, that I don’t have). This car is a total LEMON!! The check engine light came on within the first year I had it and after 3 times of taking it in to be computer anaylized, every reading would have a clear report, so the dealer decided that the sensor had malfunction so, it was replaced, but that did not stop the check engine light from coming on! if I put all the money that I have and will be putting into this piece of crap, I could have a down payment for another vehicle.

  6. #6 Shanon Robisn says:

    I also have a 2005 Rio. Same senario as well. I was driving on the highway when suddenly my car just stopped, nearly causing me to be run over by a semi truck. My timing belt had broken and caused a piston to go through the camshaft. It cost over $3500 to fix and I had to have the clutch replaced at the same time, making my total cost to fix over $4000. Thats not including towing costs. I had it towed to the Kia dealership where I purchased the car, they gave me an estimate of $7000 so I had it towed to my house where it sat for about a month while I shopped around for a mechanic. I then had it towed to his shop. The first tow was free with my insurance, the other two were $200 each. This was about a 1 1/2 years ago. Now my front passenger side door no longer opens and the rear passenger side seatbelt doesnt work. I hate this car!

  7. #7 matthew says:

    i have a kia rio 2005 my timing belt snap i don,t have the money to fix it so i took it apart did reserch and found out that i had to bent valves. so i took it napa payed them 169.00 to fix that got a head gasket set and put it back together piece of cake. check that before paying alot on a new engine. timing is easy to just keep cylinder 1 top dead center. line up crankshaft mark with with mark on engine. line up cam pulleys with mark on timing belt cover. make sure the dot on the cam pulley is up on ehaust side. and the dot on the other intake pulley is lined up with the intake side

  8. #8 matthew says:

    by the way i have 72,000 miles timing belt will snap please change

  9. #9 Donna says:

    I’ve never seen such a piece of junk manufactured in my life…this car was the worst investment I ever made…I purchased a 2005 kia rio about a year and a half ago…thought it was a good deal with on 80 thousand kms on it…I was made aware of the timing belt issue only after I bought it was it was recommended to change it at 100, 000 kms…well, I did make it to that point because a day before Christmas my car shut down, had it towed and was told that yep…the belt broke, and most likely my motor is gone! Are you kidding me? A simple belt can ruin and entire engine? I’d like to be alongside the brilliant one who decided this would be a great feature to add to the car when they made it…I have no warranty, no money to fix it or even know for sure if the engine is shot…but based on the mechanic’s opinion, 98% of the time, that is the issue…I had to go buy a new car right after Christmas…yeah, thanks Kia…I will never buy from you again!!!!!!!!

  10. #10 brian says:

    my 2004 kia rio now sits in the junk yard ,timing belt came apart and rouined the engine ,60000mls , My suzuki 1997 original timing belt 180000mls still good .Shame on you Kia ,where is the safety to protect the engine if you use low grade timing belts ?

  11. #11 jane says:

    car just quit on the highway and spins when try to start. I think timing belt broke. car has 130,000 miles. I have had the car for 3 years and this is the first trouble, i have had. It has been a very good dependable car up till now. do not know what to do with it.

  12. #12 LemonLaw says:

    Get to a dealer immediately. Due to the miles, Kia may put up a fight, but they could contribute toward the repair cost.

  13. #13 Danielle says:

    Well I got my KIA Rio 2005 in February and my boyfriend was driving it last week and all of a sudden it just went out well we took it to the get looked at and it was the timing bet and everything in the engine it suck so now o have to pay some one to get it fixed cuz I still ow a lot on it so I’m stuck I shouldof just payed a little more for something better never again

  14. #14 Jason says:

    I was driving down the interstate and my 2005 Kia Rio broke down. Same thing, timing belt broke and destroyed my engine. My mechanic told me to get another car. It only has 79,000 miles on it, unbelievable.

  15. #15 Kate says:

    Yep, same here. Had my 2005 Kia Rio since 2007 and it has 95,000 miles. It was a great car until the timing belt broke while I was one the highway. We don’t know the extent of the engine damage and are selling the car to auto salvage. I had my 2 month old in the car that day, so we went out to buy a better family vehicle rather than put a ton of money into the Kia engine. The worst part about this is that I’d just had the 90,000 service done at the Kia dealership. They never mentioned the loose belt or the fact that it regularly needed replacement.

  16. #16 Brenda says:

    I have a 2005 Kia Rio and having problems going up hills. Very little power is it the timing belt? Drive ok on level road.

  17. #17 Angie says:

    I have a 2005 Kia Rio. The timing belt is shot, blown head gasket and now have to junk the car because It will cost a fortune to fix. I have had nothing but problems with my car!! NEVER BUY A KIA!!

  18. #18 Sarah says:

    My 2005 Kia Rio is sitting in my garage, does not run, and I am trying to figure out what to do about it. Bought the car used in Feb., 2012, with 92,000 miles. In June, 2013, engine died on a city street causing all kinds of trouble/expense for me, and I have been advised to sell it for scrap as the engine is gone and it is not worth replacing. I still owe payments for 1.5 years, so cannot afford another car. When Kia sold me the car and subsequently did routine maintenance and another time replaced a disintigrated gear shift (???), they never once mentioned the ‘problem’ with the timing belt. I am a recent college graduate, looking for a full time job and am stranded with a dead car that I am still paying for. Shame on Kia for making such a cheap product! I will never buy another Kia.

  19. #19 daor says:

    Is it required to change this timing belt yearly?is that only issue with kia rio?kindly advise as am hoping to get one.

  20. #20 LemonLaw says:

    @Daor: Annually seems extreme.

  21. #21 Jim Nordmeyer says:

    My 2006 Kia Rio timing belt broke at 75,000; the Kia Dealer mechanic said $4000 for a replaced ENGINE!! I insisted he just replace the belt a and try it while I prayed. (I don’t even go to church). Well he wanted to know who I’m praying to because IT WORKED!! He said he’s never even tried to replace one before and he couldn’t believe it actually did work. Now I’m at 250,000 and I guess I’d better get another replacement before it breaks again.

  22. #22 John dahmen says:

    November 6, 2013
    My experience yesterday mirrors nearly all the above.
    Driving on the highway and the Rio quit running. Coasted to the side of the road. Towed to my reliable mechanic. Hours later i was told that the timing belt had broken and destroyed my motor. Only 74K miles.
    I maintained it well and enjoyed it. I had checked the year and model with KBB and Consumer Reports prior to buying it. Apparently I missed the timing belt issue.
    Costly for me. I now need to replace a car that I truly expected to last well into the 200K range as all my Mazdas had done.
    Kia will not receive plaudits from me and I will caution anyone when buying a Kia or a Hyundai.
    Caveat emptor.

  23. #23 Dieter says:

    My wife purchased an “05 Kia Rio in 2006. She treated the car very well but as we were driving near Knoxville, TN in 2011 on a road trip, the timing belt broke and ruined the engine. The car only had 79,000 miles on it. We had it towed to a mechanic for $200 and we waited in a hotel. He told us it would cost $8,000 to fix it! I had a friend in the area who kindly drove us the 6 hours back home. We had just finished paying the car off and I ended up selling the (motorless) car online for $900.

    Incidentally, the mechanic charged us $400 to install a new timing belt but removed it and kept it for himself when the new buyer showed up to take the car.

  24. #24 hector says:

    Exactly at 75000 miles the timing belt broke, just 10 days ago, should had changed it this past summer. The mechanic was saying go and buy another car. I decided to change the engine .Bout a new engine on e-bay (0 miles) for $2350 and paid $935 for installing it. I am not sure if I did the right thing or not. Hope I do not have problems for a couple of years.

  25. #25 Mike says:

    2002 Rio, 80,000. Bought new belt to replace this weekend. Unreal , car dies tues morning. Checked the belt and its not broken but there are teeth missing. Hoping Its not extreme. Will put the belt on in the morning and hope for the best.
    Its unacceptable how these belts are crap. This should be a recall. Its been a dependable car and has been well maintained. Bought it from my sister in law who bought it new. I got it with 40,000 miles. Class action lawsuit.

  26. #26 Brad says:


    Today’s modern engines with DOHC and the tight tolerances that enhance perfomance and mileage have this drawback: if the timing belt breaks, the pistons will collide with the valves and cause fatal damage to the engine almost every time. I learned this the hard with my 1988 Hyundai Excel. Sure enough, if I had read and obeyed my required maintenance manual, I would have had it changed at 60k miles. Do your homework and do the required maintenace. This is not just Kia, it is nearly 80% of the cars on the road today. Y’all google “interference engines” and get yourself some good book larnin’. This has nothing to do with the quality of these cars. Now if they broke after just 20k miles, then we’d have something to gripe about — but I don’t see that happening in any of the above posts. TLC, people, TLC.

  27. #27 Karen P says:

    I have a 2009 Rio with 98k miles and was warned I need to change the timing belt-I didn’t listen and at 10:30pm while driving home after spending time with my family that lives 200 miles from me- my car dies. Luckily I was able to coast it to the shoulder and it happened right at a gas station-which was closed but the lights were nice. I had to call a friend to pick me up and have the car towed to my neighbor who is a mechanic. Next day he told me it was the timing belt and my engine is ruined. He found a replacement engine at a wrecking yard with 52k miles but I had to wait until I had the extra money to get it. Luckily I am blessed with great neighbors that made sure I got to work every day! Next paycheck I got the motor and extra parts (replaced the belt right away in the “new” engine – all that cost $1100 total-my friend and neighbor doesn’t want me to pay him for putting in the engine but I will anyway. He replaced it within one day and it’s running great. I know I am blessed. I will say I won’t buy another Kia. The belt wasn’t broke but several of the teeth were broke off causing it to jump time. Seems like there should be a recall on these belts. I also think it is crap that if you are the original owner of a Kia you have 10 yr 100k mile warranty-but if not the original-you only have 5 yr 60k mile warranty.

  28. #28 Morgan says:

    We made the mistake of a 2008 Rio…. My husband and I fixed the timing chain ourselves…we did everything correctly and lined EVERY belt up properly….it was a beast to work on and its a piece of junk. Its sitting in my garage now and its not worth fixing….we sank 300$ into it just in parts…..that doesn’t count the hours we worked to try to fix it….my uncle is a mechanic, and he said to trash it.

  29. #29 Pamela Knapp says:

    Bought my 2005 Kia Rio used in 2006 was never told by the Kia dealer that the timing belt should be changed. The car was at the dealer at least every 2 months with the check engine light appearing. Dealer could not find a problem and replaced sensors but light continued to stay on. Finally while driving in 2008 the car just died in the middle of the interstate. It was towed to the dealer and the engine had to be replaced because of the timing belt issue. Engine was finally found and installed. In 2011, the engine quit and car now sits in driveway waiting to be junked.

  30. #30 Donald-Mathieu Robichaud says:

    My girlfriend bought a 2005 Rio that had 20 000km in 2006. In 2011 the timing belt broke and ruined the engine At that time the car had 58 000km. We brought it to a Kia dealer and they changed the engine, it cost us 2600$. Last spring, the same thing happened, that time the car had 94 000km. For the second time, I tried calling Kia Customer Service to get them to pay for the motor and for the second time they refused. I sent them a formal notice and they called me back but only to tell me that the decision would not change. Because this problem seems to be very common, I talked to a lawyer here in Quebec Canada and we would like to start a class action against Kia. If anyone reading this is interested, you can reach me at Also, I’d like to know if anyone has ever come to an agreement with Kia concerning this issue.

  31. #31 Brenda Parris says:

    What can be done about this? Just happened toy daughter’s 2011 Kia. They Need to do something for these people.

  32. #32 Dana Dawkins says:

    Bought a 2004 Kia Rio earlier this year with approximately 58,000 miles on it for my 20 yr old son. When he he reached 70,000 miles, the timing belt broke and locked up the engine on him while he was riding down the highway. Extended warranty company won’t cover the cost of replacing the engine, given that timing belts aren’t covered and quoting that as the ‘original ‘ issue. In the meantime, we’re stuck making payments on something we cannot drive. Shameful!

  33. #33 Adam says:

    My 2007 Kia Rio has 117,658 and after reading these post I am going to change the timing belt on it this weekend. I had no idea that this had to be done. I can’t believe the dealer where I got it serviced at last didn’t tell me that I needed to replace the belt. I am glad I came upon this site.

  34. #34 Tom says:

    I have to agree with Brad (comment from May 25th, 2014 at 7:00 pm). Doing your home work must start before you buy a car. You need to read the maintenance section of the owners manual when you buy a car, and don’t buy a car that doesn’t have one. If you are not prepared to handle all of the Periodic Maintenance work that is listed in the manual (and do it before the recommended mileage), then either don’t buy that car, or don’t whine when the car breaks down.

  35. #35 Bob says:

    Same as everyone…05 Rio…2nd owner…100,000 miles plus…died doing 45…towed home…figured it was timing belt…bought NEW ONE AT AUTO ZONE FOR $45…Dont let people charge u more..installed timing belt according to specs…go start it…NOTHING…pull plug…no compresion…go online an see im in deep you know what…damm im afraid to pull the head cuz i know it aint gonna be good…WHO THE F..K MAKES A DAMM ENGINE THE DESTROYS ITSELF WHEN THE BELT BREAKS….I AM NEVER BUYING ANOTHER KIA…AN GOING TO TELL EVERYONE THAT LISTENS TO NEVER BUY A FRECKING K I A…THEY SUCK..

  36. #36 Taofeek says:

    Well, I must be the luckiest man using a KIA Rio ’06. I was returning from a journey when suddenly I lost power on my engine, I cranked the engine a few times and with no response. I had to tow to the nearest mechanic to discover I had a broken timing belt. the car is only on 102,000KM though. I had the timing belt replaced and it was fixed. I need to know though, if there is a specific check I can do to be sure the timing belt is fixed properly though.

  37. #37 Judy says:

    I have a 2001 Kia Rio, which I bought brand new. Back in 2010, the car had about 70,000 miles on it. I was driving down the street and the engine just stopped. The timing belt had broken and the engine was badly damaged. I spent $2000. to get the engine rebuilt, and that ended up being a good decision. The car hasn’t had any other problems, and it now has 128,000 miles on it. Kia doesn’t cover it under the warranty because it’s not the engine that is bad, it’s the timing belt. I was pretty mad at the time, but aside from the timing belt issue, it’s been a great car.

  38. #38 Cheri says:

    I too, am disgusted. I have a 2011 kia Rio. Worst car I’ve ever purchased. First 6 months ran fine. After that…all downhill. Including the 4 coils in i now, I have a total of 13!! Yes, I had the computer update done a few months ago. Didn’t help at all. Check engine light on all the time. Gives the same codes. Random misfire. Had to invest in a scope/scanner to clear codes myself…rather than having auto store do it all the time! Misses..cuts out.. Sad…I’ve paid 4 yrs on this loan with 2 yrs to go. Am out of $$ to invest on more useless repair! I’m a single.. Senior female who’s been taken advantage of by Kia. No reason why these cars gave not been re-called. Now stuck with a car undrivable…& will have to park this car…borrow one from my son…while making payments next 2 years.

  39. #39 Cheri says:

    Typo..4 coils in now…plus 9 more. Also…no reason why this car has not been recalled…

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