600K-Mile Kia Sorento Driver Milks 10-Year Warranty for 9 Engines

That’s a new motor every 67,000 miles or so.

byPeter Holderith| PUBLISHED May 18, 2022 10:16 AM
600K-Mile Kia Sorento Driver Milks 10-Year Warranty for 9 Engines
600-shot-of-autism via Reddit
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Not every car buyer goes for the expensive extra warranties that dealers offer. Most people don't want the extra upfront cost and consider the manufacturer's warranty to be enough. Sometimes, though—and this is one of those times—extra warranties turn out to be worth every penny.

One such decade-long warranty on a 2012 Kia Sorento expired last week. Thanks to a Reddit post by a mechanic at the dealership where the car was serviced, we know its unlimited-mile, 10-year service agreement enabled it to travel over half a million miles while supposedly going through nine engines. That's just the tip of the iceberg, too. Thanks to the extensive service records the owner kept, the repairs done to a Kia that averaged 60,800 miles a year are fully known, and it isn't pretty.

To preface all of this, the mechanic we spoke to says the vehicle was definitely abused. He's been working at the dealership for just a few months, but says he heard the driver "floors it literally at all times." The fact that somebody with such a heavy foot would keep such detailed service records seems strange, but as previously mentioned, the nine engines are just the beginning. Over the years, the poor Sorento allegedly received 203 oil changes, 20 transmission flushes, and four transmissions.

To explain how this sort of damage could've occurred, we must look not only at the alleged habits of the car's former owner but also at the engine in the Sorento; in this case, the 2.4-liter Theta II four-cylinder. It's been refined over the years, but earlier versions—especially non-turbocharged variants like the one in this car—tend to be less than reliable. There have been recalls, class action lawsuits, fires, you name it; they're all signs of an engine that just isn't that great, and this car went through nine of them.

And if you do some careful math you'll notice that this is despite oil changes every 2,995 miles. That's the recommended oil change schedule followed almost to a tee for a full decade. Despite this, the owner of this Sorento obviously had issues.

The mechanic we spoke to also claims the owner not only kept details of the car's service history, but also receipts from every time he filled the car with gas, and even when he put air in the tires. The extensive mileage was allegedly accumulated by driving back and forth to California from near Minneapolis, where the dealership is located. Some techs, the mechanic says, claim the owner was a drug dealer. Others say he was just a normal guy. "The people that have been here for several years [say] he was just another customer," the mechanic told me. "Another tech says he found several bricks of weed in the back once."

The car's owner wasn't interested in owning it anymore once the warranty expired, and for good reason. According to the mechanic we spoke to, it was traded to the dealer for $1,425 in credit towards a used car. "He paid $18,000 plus the trade-in for a Saturn Vue off our used cars lot," the mechanic said. "It was a Red Line edition."

Yes, the former Kia owner decided against anything more modern and ended up in a Saturn Vue Red Line. I love a happy ending.

So if you're ever curious about ticking that extended warranty box, maybe check out a car's reputation first. It could be that it needs an engine almost every year, and a transmission every 150,000 miles.

Got a tip or question for the author? Contact them directly: peter@thedrive.com