Rent, Lease, Sell or Keep: 2004 Kia Spectra

Steven Lang
by Steven Lang
rent lease sell or keep 2004 kia spectra

Kia no longer exists. Yes there is that Hyundai subsidiary now known as Kia. But before Kia Motors went Chapter 11, there was this strange Korean company that sold spasm inducing horrific vehicles.

I’m not sure any female car enthusiast would ever be happy with the name Sephia. Just saying that name alone can induce ugly flashbacks for prior owners and dealers. Sportage rhymed with ‘shortage’ and had parts that may have indeed come directly from plastic soda bottles and aluminum foil. Then there was this plain wretched thing…

Rent: I bought the 2004 Spectra GS for $1650 back in tax season. A time when dealers gleefully pay too much money for crap that nobody wants. I thought a late model Kia would be an easy sell since everyone’s dog now wants a small car with great MPG’s. The Spectra delivers on that count alone. But pretty much has lost it quite literally on everything else.

The top of the steering wheel had whittled to nearly half it’s diameter thanks to Kia’s use of cheap leftover rubbers. Or was it hardened play-doh?

The Tonka rivets that had kept the door handle assembly together had somehow melted to gristle. Not even a rattles worth of their past existence. Or the three cent grommets that had been glued to a leftover post-it note to hold the rest of it in place. I had to position three large screws from an old TV set just to keep the thing attached to the door.

Lease: Then there was the dashboard. Those who have old beater Tauruses in arid climates will be familiar with the gaping holes between the dash and the instrument cluster. As the vehicle ages the glue holding the two together gives out. Leaving a corroded glue gaping mouth as a painful reminder of Ford’s cost cutting.

In the Spectra this ‘mouth’ wasn’t measured in centimeters but BIG gaping inches. Enough space to serve as CD storage for an aftermarket stereo that was no doubt recycled from a Clinton era pawn shop.

Sell: Truth be told the Spectra has only two things worth mentioning. The mileage and the price. With 115k miles some folks would assume that the vehicle has another 70k to go. It does if it gets recycled into something else. I’m not saying this car is complete garbage. The replacement engine is quiet and the second (or third) clutch does the job.

But there is no joy here. It’s as if Kia had aspired to create a Corolla and came up with a colonic. I have received over 50 interested parties since February and with each test drive came the ubiquitous words, “Do you have anything else?”. Or “I just wish this car had…” usually finished with a disparaging remark about it’s quality levels. Which over a brief seven years have left this Kia as somewhere between Soviet and third world.

Keep: I may have to keep it until the next ‘tax season’. While the 1985 Cressida sold in a matter of hours and a 1991 Volvo 240 was bought within minutes of it coming on the lot. This Kia may indeed be the ‘unsellable car’. Joining three door minivans, V6 powered Mercury Cougars, and the Chevy Corsica as permanent fixtures in wholesale heaven.

Certain vehicles tend to celebrate birthdays and anniversaries at the auctions. The wrong car with the wrong build quality, and the wrong features, and the wrong color. Let’s visualize: just imagine an old beater with peeling brown paint and some ‘authentic’ quality quirk. No door handle. A ball of rubber bands serving as the top of the stickshift. Maybe some pliers in place of the steering wheel. That car of imminent crusher fodder may indeed be more sellable than this Kia. I screwed the pooch on this one.

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  • Sastexan Sastexan on Aug 10, 2011

    V6 cougars? Did you not attempt to sell to Sajeev?

    • MRF 95 T-Bird MRF 95 T-Bird on Aug 11, 2011

      The Ford 3.8 in the late 80's mid-90's was notorious for head gasket issues so much so Ford recalled a few million of them. However any of them are better than the early-mid 90's Kia.

  • Robert.Walter Robert.Walter on Aug 12, 2011

    Ford once invested 100M USD in buying some Kia equity. And used it to build either the Festiva or the Aspire crap mobile, while at the same time Kia seemed to be ripping off Ford styling cues on everything from Windstar to Jaguar... Anyhow, when the company headed south, Ford's CFO was asked if Ford would send more good money after bad. His reply was something like, in this business, 100M is not a lot, and sometimes every investment doesn't work out." My advice to Stephen: Given how crap Kia cars were, and that this is one of the pre-Hyundai crapmobiles, sell it before it strands you or starts to cost you money.

  • FreedMike I don't know why this dash shocks anyone - the whole "touchscreen uber alles" thing is pure Tesla.
  • ToolGuy CXXVIII comments?!?
  • ToolGuy I did truck things with my truck this past week, twenty-odd miles from home (farther than usual). Recall that the interior bed space of my (modified) truck is 98" x 74". On the ride home yesterday the bed carried a 20 foot extension ladder (10 feet long, flagged 14 inches past the rear bumper), two other ladders, a smallish air compressor, a largish shop vac, three large bins, some materials, some scrap, and a slew of tool cases/bags. It was pretty full, is what I'm saying.The range of the Cybertruck would have been just fine. Nothing I carried had any substantial weight to it, in truck terms. The frunk would have been extremely useful (lock the tool cases there, out of the way of the Bed Stuff, away from prying eyes and grasping fingers -- you say I can charge my cordless tools there? bonus). Stainless steel plus no paint is a plus.Apparently the Cybertruck bed will be 78" long (but over 96" with the tailgate folded down) and 60-65" wide. And then Tesla promises "100 cubic feet of exterior, lockable storage — including the under-bed, frunk and sail pillars." Underbed storage requires the bed to be clear of other stuff, but bottom line everything would have fit, especially when we consider the second row of seats (tools and some materials out of the weather).Some days I was hauling mostly air on one leg of the trip. There were several store runs involved, some for 8-foot stock. One day I bummed a ride in a Roush Mustang. Three separate times other drivers tried to run into my truck (stainless steel panels, yes please). The fuel savings would be large enough for me to notice and to care.TL;DR: This truck would work for me, as a truck. Sample size = 1.
  • Art Vandelay Dodge should bring this back. They could sell it as the classic classic classic model
  • Surferjoe Still have a 2013 RDX, naturally aspirated V6, just can't get behind a 4 banger turbo.Also gloriously absent, ESS, lane departure warnings, etc.