Monday, November 28, 2011

Email to Kia

Oh, what a Monday.  UGH.

I just finished writing an essay email to Battleground Kia in Greensboro, NC and also to Kia USA Consumer Affairs division.  We'll see what they have to say about our situation.  I'm not looking to get a new car out of this, or even for them to pay our repair bill.  I just really want to know what they think, and what they suggest.  Here's the email- it is long, but interesting...if you are into that sort of thing.  Disclaimer- the sludge theory came from a friend, it is not mine- but I bet he is right!!

Dear [redacted for his personal safety],

Please forward this email to whomever you feel is appropriate at your dealership, as I could not find an email for the service department on your dealership's website.  I am also forwarding this to the Kia USA Consumer Affairs division, through the KMA Consumer Assistance Center website.

My name is Mary [McYouaregoingtowishyounevermetme], and my husband Marshall previously used your website to ask for help regarding our vehicle.  You replied saying we should expect contact from the service manager, which has not happened.  We do not have any emails, or missed phone calls.  

I brought in my Kia Sorento VIN # NOTTH3R3AL1 to your dealership on 9/15/11 for its 90,000 mile maintenance, even though the car was running perfectly at the time.  I specifically asked the service department to do a thorough check of the engine, since we would be shipping it overseas and I needed to ensure to the best of my ability that we would not have problems with the car once it arrived in Germany. (We are currently stationed at Ramstein AB, Germany).  Having two small children and with my husband frequently out of town or country, I make sure to keep my vehicle in good shape!  We paid $496.96 for the premium service, which includes an oil change.  After picking up the car on Thursday, Sept 15th, the next day we drove to Norfolk, VA, where the car was shipped from the vehicle processing center en route to Germany on Monday 9/18.  There were no problems at all with the car after the appointment or before shipping.

We have the maintenance records to the vehicle in a file in the glove box.  We provided regular maintenance including the 60,000 mile maintenance, and oil changes, some of which were done at Casey Kia in Newport News, VA, and some were done on base at Langley AFB.  I have gone through our oil changes specifically, and the average mileage between oil changes was 4,000 miles, using synthetic oil.

For some reason, after picking up our vehicle in Kaiserslautern, Germany on 11/2/11, during the drive home the oil light turned on and the engine started a small knocking.  Since we were close to home, my husband drove carefully home and checked the oil level, which was fine.  I told him that since there was a Kia dealership nearby in Kaiserslautern, we should take it there, which he did.  They informed us that they would charge us 600 Euro just to diagnose the problem (approx 795 dollars).  This was an astronomical figure, just for them to tell us what is wrong.

At this point my husband tried to contact your dealership to ask what we should do.  However, since we are 6 hours ahead of you, and he works full time, making a phone call is not the most convenient way.  He sent the message through your website, awaiting a reply.  We never got a reply, hence this message.

We decided to have the car towed from the Kia dealership, because we could not afford the diagnostic fee.  The vehicle was towed to Ramstein AB Auto Shop, where they checked the oil pressure, and found it low.  They suggested changing the oil and filter, and checking the lines to make sure nothing had been shaken or knocked loose during transit, thus blocking any vital oil passages.  Once this was done the oil light turned off and the engine operated as normal for approximately 45 minutes, after which the light and sound returned.

They called us to notify us of their findings and their new recommendation to replace the oil pump.  The part (actually multiple parts, as you know you can't replace just one part to any car) were ordered, and we were told it would take 2 weeks to arrive in Germany, with an approximate cost of parts and labor totaling around $600.  This is painful to us, but luckily we had an emergency fund for this specific reason.  

Which brings us to today.  You see, today we heard from the Auto Shop, who received the parts and began dissembling the engine to replace them.  What they found is perplexing to me.  There is sludge in our engine.  Our regularly maintained engine.  The engine that your dealership performed 90,000 mile maintenance to only 2 short months before, saying nothing of sludge at the time.  Our labor bill has now skyrocketed, as taking off the pan, cleaning the parts, etc has become a much larger job than they anticipated.  The mechanics brought me back and showed me the engine, and I took a few pictures.  I am attaching them to this message.  After asking them what they recommend next, it seems that their first suggestion is to stop dumping money into the car, since it may need a new engine anyway.  If we want to salvage the car, they could send the engine off base to a German facility to get cleaned, costing a staggering amount of money.  Their only other suggestion was to buy an engine flush type product and attempt to flush out the sludge ourselves, then get the oil changed again to hopefully remove as much as possible and have a working engine.  

Finding ourselves in a financial bind, I don't believe we have much choice.  It appears that if the engine flush doesn't work, we will have to junk our 2005 Sorento, that only has 94,000 miles on it.  

I simply don't understand how a car with no mechanical issues and regular maintenance develops sludge so quickly- but I have a theory.  This is not an accusation, but merely a brainstorm as to where our engine sludge came from.  Feel free to investigate, or offer any other opinions.  We dropped off the car, and you performed the maintenance as requested, seeing no signs of sludge.  You also changed the oil.  It is certainly plausible that the bulk oil that you most likely use for your oil changes was probably at the bottom of a barrel, and therefore contained sludge mixed in.  Sludge that went into our regularly maintained engine.  As long as we drove the car the oil stayed mixed up, and therefore didn't settle and gum up the filter, pump, and engine.  However, when the vehicle sat on a boat for 6 weeks, it was ample time for the sludge to settle.  Therefore, when we got our car back- BOOM- engine sludge.

Now, if the oil for our oil change came from quart bottles, then this theory cannot be correct.  Do you have any other ideas?

I am also curious as to what suggestions you have for us from this point forward.  We should be picking up the vehicle in the next few days.  I wish I could express how inconvenient it has been to be in a foreign country having car trouble, but the biggest concern for us now is finances.  My husband is an E-5, and I do not have a job.  If we have to buy another car to replace this regularly-maintained-and-paid-off car....well it won't be pretty.

If you read this entire email I thank you for your patience.  Now, please do me the honor of a reply, so I know it was received, and not ignored.

Mary Mc[Toldya]
(German phone number) 8675309 cell
German phone number WD-40 home

We'll see if I get a reply!!

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