Kias are reliable, but you might want more peace of mind.

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We looked closely at Kia’s new vehicle warranty, plus options offered for Kia's extended warranties on its certified pre-owned (CPO) vehicles, and compare them to the best auto warranty providers to help you decide if you prefer their coverage for peace of mind.

In this article:

Often you can find more coverage at a more affordable price if you consider purchasing your extended warranty from a third-party providers. To help find the best coverage at the best price for your Kia, we encourage you to get quotes from the providers below to best compare your options:

 
 

Kia’s Standard New Vehicle Warranty

If you’ve been considering buying a new Kia, you’re probably aware of the generous Kia factory warranty coverage that this brand offers. Kia is famous for its 10-year/10,000-mile powertrain warranty, and its basic new vehicle warranty, at 5 years/60,000 miles, surpasses even many luxury brands.The Kia brand also ranks very well in terms of dependability and reliability according to major industry sources, which we’ll look at in a moment. 

Kia’s 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty covers the engine, transmission, and driveline components, such as the front-wheel drive used on most Kia models, the rear-wheel drive on the Stinger sport sedan, and the all-wheel drive available on the Stinger and Kia SUVs like the new Telluride.  

Here’s something critical to keep in mind: Kia’s 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty applies only to the vehicle’s original owner. If you buy your Kia used, the powertrain coverage drops to five years/60,000 miles from the date the car was first put into service. As an example, if you buy a Kia that’s 3 years old and has 36,000 miles, you’ll have 2 years/24,000 miles remaining on the powertrain warranty.

That’s still very good, but if you plan to keep the car longer than that, an extended warranty might be right for you. Kia’s 5-year/60,000-mile limited basic bumper-to-bumper warranty beats the 3-year/36,000-mile basic warranties offered by many competitors.

Kia’s limited anti-perforation (rust-through) warranty runs for 5 years/100,000 miles, which is basically in between the industry’s highest and lowest coverage in this area.

As with other brands’ warranties, maintenance items such as brake pads are not covered.

Kia Vehicles Are Good, But How Reliable Are They?

Kia, which is part of Hyundai, has been cited for good quality, a far leap from the early 1990s when the first Kia cars sold in America were, to be kind, less than stellar. The J.D. Power Vehicle Dependability Study for 2019 showed Kia with 126 problems per 100 vehicles. That’s better than the industry average of 136 problems per 100 vehicles and ahead of Mercedes-Benz (134), Nissan (137), and Honda (146). (Lexus was best with 106.)

This is a highly relevant study for used car buyers, because it measures 177 specific problems in three-year-old vehicles, so in this case, 2016 models. Another trusted source, Consumer Reports, ranks Kia 9th in reliability, also putting Kia ahead of Nissan (11th place) and Honda (12th place), among others. Finally, the website RepairPal ranks Kia third out of 32 brands studied for reliability.

Yet, no car is perfect. A few years ago, Kia and its parent company, Hyundai, were forced to recall over a million vehicles for major engine failures. Another recall addressed engine fires.

Such problems have stricken other brands from time to time. For most other problems, you must rely on a vehicle warranty or be prepared to pay out of pocket if the warranty coverage has expired.

For example, according to RepairPal on a 2015 Kia Sorento SUV with the optional 3.3-liter V-6 engine, purchased used and out of its powertrain warranty, you could pay $342–$532 for a water pump replacement and $916–$1,761 for a head gasket replacement. (On the RepairPal site, you can enter any Kia model to see its repair costs.)

Long Ownership, Long Loan Terms, Expensive Repairs

There are two critical trends that many car buyers might not think about. One is that today’s drivers keep a new vehicle an average of nearly seven years. Some owners are keeping their cars up to 15 years. The potential for expensive repairs only increases with age and mileage for any vehicle.

Some Kia owners will therefore be out of the basic new-car warranty but possibly still covered by the powertrain warranty when the car is finally paid off. If you bought it as a certified pre-owned vehicle, you could be out of all warranty coverage long before you’ve finished paying for the car, unless you purchased an extended warranty.

Think for a moment what it would be like to make a car payment of, say, $350–$400 a month, plus the regular maintenance that gets more expensive at higher miles, and possibly hundreds of dollars or more in surprise breakdown repairs on top of that. Putting those expenses on a credit card can add further increase cost from interest charges.

Kia Certified Pre-Owned Warranties

If you’re buying a late-model used Kia from a Kia dealer, you will likely be considering a Kia Certified Pre-Owned vehicle. For these, Kia offers a range of extended warranty plans under the Kia Distinction Vehicle Protection Plan brand. The program includes Kia models that are less than 5 years old and with less than 60,000 miles, but vehicles meeting those criteria are not automatically eligible.

Kia dealer technicians inspect each vehicle following a pretty exhaustive 164-point checklist, including running a CARFAX report. If an item on the inspection list does not match Kia’s standards, it is repaired or replaced using factory-authorized parts.

Kia CPO vehicles come with a 12-month/12,000-mile warranty that Kia calls Platinum coverage that applies to almost “all assemblies in your vehicle.” It is similar to, but not the same as, the car’s original 5-year/60,000-mile new vehicle basic warranty.

Kia CPO vehicles also come with a 10-year/100,000-mile limited powertrain warranty, but this coverage is from the vehicle’s original in-service date. Again, that means you’ll need to subtract the CPO Kia’s age/miles from the 10-year/100,000-mile coverage to see what coverage you get with your car. The answer may give you a reason to buy an extended warranty.

Extra Charges And Benefits

Keep in mind that there is a $50 deductible for warranty repairs, but some perks include:

  • Roadside assistance: Runs for 10 years or unlimited miles
  • Rental car coverage: While your car gets a covered repair
  • Towing coverage: For breakdowns on the road
  • Trip interruption: Reimbursement for food and lodging should your Kia break down more than 100 miles from home

To receive warranty coverage on your Kia CPO vehicle, you must have repairs done at an authorized Kia dealership. If you sell your Kia CPO vehicle before the warranty expires, you can transfer coverage to the new owner by paying a $40 fee.

Kia Extended Warranty Choices

The Kia CPO warranty coverage is very good, but if you want more, the Kia Distinction Vehicle Protection Plan offers several levels of extended warranty coverage. Plans start with a basic “Powertrain” warranty and offers increasing vehicle system coverage in levels labeled “Silver,” “Gold,” “Gold Plus,” and “Platinum.” Each of these is offered with varying mileage limits.

“Powertrain” covers many major parts of the engine, transmission, and drive axle, but is not as comprehensive as Kia’s original new car powertrain warranty. For example, the drive axle sub-section covers only the differential and axle housing. Without getting too technical, it leaves out things like driveshafts and half-shafts and constant velocity (CV) joints. The latter assemblies comprise what many would consider the “axles.”

Also, this section has some curious wording, stating that the warranty covers 4x4 locking hubs, which no current Kia has. The Powertrain warranty choice also covers some key components for Kia hybrids, which for 2019 and 2020 include the Niro compact crossover and some Optima models.

The lesson here is that you need to look at the Kia extended warranty options carefully to understand what is and isn’t covered. This becomes more apparent as you look into the Silver level, which adds coverage for some parts of the steering, brake, and air conditioning systems, as well as front suspension, electrical, and an expanded list of hybrid components.

There are some critical things missing from Silver, however. The front suspension coverage does not include the springs, and rear suspension is not covered at all. Also “electrical” in this case specifically means the vehicle’s alternator and starter motor. Lots of other electrical and electronic components throughout the vehicle are not covered until you step up to a higher level.

Gold Is Better, But Not Perfect

Choosing Gold level fills in some of the gaps in the lower tiers, such as adding a few more engine and steering system components, plus the drive axles (half-shafts) and CV joints. The “electrical” section expands to include critical parts like the electronic ignition module, windshield wiper motor, power window motors, plus a number of parts essential to powertrain operation.

The warranty writers might have had their heads in the 1980s, since this section also covers the “engine distributor,” a part of the ignition system that has been extinct in modern cars for many years. Also, even this higher level of coverage still does not include rear suspension. For that, you need the Gold Plus protection plan.

In addition to finally covering rear suspension, Gold Plus also adds the front springs and a wide array of fuel system parts. This is an area of the car that can get quite expensive to fix. The electrical section, expands to many additional vital (and expensive) parts, such as the electronic transmission control module and also a number of elements that are critical to the fuel system’s operation.

There are some more non-existent parts from the 1980s (before Kia was even selling cars in America) to fill out the list, including a cassette player and graphic equalizer. When was the last time you even saw one of those?

Platinum Is Best, But Doesn’t Cover Everything

Finally, choosing the Platinum level of Kia Distinction basically includes everything in the lower levels plus what Kia describes as “many assemblies of your vehicle.” It then defines Platinum as “exclusionary coverage,” meaning “it covers your vehicle’s assemblies unless listed under the exclusions section of the vehicle protection plan.”

That list is too long to feature here, but it includes a lot of wear-and-tear parts such as:

  • Brake pads
  • Clutch parts (for manual transmission)
  • Door hinges
  • Lock cylinders
  • Paint
  • Exhaust system including catalytic converter
  • Shock absorbers and more

Those are things that many extended warranties, including third-party products, may not cover, because they can wear out or break from usage as the vehicle ages and accumulates mileage.

What We Look For In An Extended Warranty

Kia vehicles that fall outside the brand’s CPO age and mileage eligibility requirements can still offer good value. That’s where you’ll need a third-party warranty, though, and Kia dealers have options. You can also make your own choice, and we’ve researched the field to make some recommendations.

In our look at the top extended warranty companies, we considered:

  • Variety and flexibility of plans
  • Company reputation
  • Product value
  • Strength of insurance backing (extended warranties are basically insurance policies)
  • Extras, like roadside assistance, towing, and trip interruption coverage

We recommend that you read the full report, but we’re confident in our choice of Endurance as the best, with CARCHEX and CarShield trailing just behind.

Choose Your Own Kia Coverage

Like the Kia extended warranty plans, Endurance offers multiple tiers of coverage. In this case, though, there’s more to choose from with five distinct levels. Within those, you can choose the amount of coverage, up to 200,000 miles for some plans. You can review a sample contract online to see exactly what is and is not covered.

Notably, with an Endurance warranty and with most other third-party warranties, you can choose almost any licensed repair facility, including Kia dealers, a national chain like Firestone, or your favorite local licensed auto service shop.

In all cases, Endurance pays the repair shop directly. In contrast, some extended warranty companies require that you submit a claim and wait for reimbursement.

 
Kia Extended Warranty vs. Third-Party
Here's a quick comparison of the Kia Extended Warranty compared to our favorite third-party extended warranty providers.
  Kia Extended Warranty CARCHEX Endurance CarShield

Start Date

Date of contract purchase Anytime Anytime Anytime
Max Length of Coverage 120,000 miles 10 years/150,000 miles 20 years/200,000 miles  250,000 miles
# of Plan Options 5 5 (16 contracts) 5 6
Transferable
Deductible

$0+

$0+ $100 $0+
Trip Interruption ✔ (with Endurance Elite Membership, free for 1 year)
Roadside Assistance ✔ (with Endurance Elite Membership, free for 1 year)
Repair Network Kia dealers only > 30,000 facilities nationwide ASE-Certified® repair facilities ASE-Certified® repair facilities
Cancellation Policy Unknown Refund if within 30 days Refund if within 30 days Refund if within 30 days
Availability From local dealer Free, instant quote  Free, instant quote Free, instant quote
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