Howdy, Stranger!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

Kia Spectra/Spectra5 Safety Issues

PF_FlyerPF_Flyer Pennsylvania Furnace, PAPosts: 7,966
edited March 2014 in Kia
Discuss Spectra safety here.

Edmunds Moderator

Need some roadside assistance? - or send a private message by clicking on my name.

Just purchased or leased a vehicle? Share your vehicle reviews

PF_Flyer's 2014 Versa Note Long Term Blog
How To Start Your Own Long Term Blog


  • iluvmysephia1iluvmysephia1 Manson, WAPosts: 7,234
    has it ever occurred to anyone that maybe, just maybe, there are people out there who don't view some guy's sling-shotting a perfectly good sedan at a barrier at 40mph as the end-all totally new world order safety test that's got to be revered and adored just because it has that IIHS title stamped on it?


    How can a rig that has received "marginal" ratings everywhere be given a "first-ever poor" designation in the end? The more I look at the thing the more I think that Kia is going to leave the Spectra sedan alone and sell it as it's built. What's more, I think that with 4-wheel disc brakes and side curtain airbags standard to go along with the standard front driver and passenger airbags a person is buying a car that is decently outfitted from the get-go. The Kia Spectra actually has more safety equipment built in as standard equipment than the average bear for sale out there. Think Dodge Neon or Honda Civic or Toyota Corolla here.

    2011 Kia Soul Sport 5-speed

  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,910
    Kia can respond however they want to the IIHS tests. If they are smart, they will do what other automakers have done when their cars didn't achieve a "Good" result--fix the problem and ask for a retest. Hyundai was very slow to take action, IMO, but they finally did it. Other automakers, including Nissan and DC, have been much quicker to act when their cars don't get good results on crash tests. They realize that many people do look at crash tests as a buying criterion. They also know that many people value the opinion of CR and that CR won't recommend a car if it has a poor crash test result. So a "Poor" rating means lost sales--maybe not to you or some other people, but to people who consider crash tests before buying.
  • iluvmysephia1iluvmysephia1 Manson, WAPosts: 7,234
    a "good" rating at any time the planets would have to line up perfectly, man would have to go to Mars and live there without troubles for at least one year, unemployment rates would have to drop to 1% nationally and Pontiac would have to decide to drop it's base price of the new Solstice to $15,000. Not gonna happen. Kia has some kind of a funky monkey on it's CR back and I'm certainly not gonna hold my breath waiting for them to cough that stuff up and spit it out.


    I say buy what you want, watch your speed, drive carefully and eat right.


    That being said, if Kia decides to fix anything on Spectra, great. I'd like to see how the SAB and SCAB's inflate and help in a side impact crash as well as additional input on deployment in a frontal crash of those devices. Perhaps they need to make a computer sensor tweak or install another sensor of some sort.

    2011 Kia Soul Sport 5-speed

  • I saw the results of this group of tests, and had to visit to see if anyone thought something wasn't right either. It looks like I share the same doubts as lngtonge18 and a few others. The Kia Spectra earned at least a marginal rating. The published results are misleading at best and corrupt at worst. It's best to keep in mind exactly what the IIHS is and does. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety is funded by insurance companies to in short lower claims and increase premiums. For example: their highly publicized bumper tests have nothing to do with safety.


    The Kia Spectra should do well in a side impact with the airbags. However, the IIHS's test sled is wedge shaped, and unlike nearly anything I've seen on the road. The NHTSA does not take into account head injury. I personally would not either because contact between the sled and the head is an externality of the test, considering real world probability of head contact with real world objects (or objects that are similar to these sleds/tests). The IIHS's test sled (that supposably "simulates" a large truck/SUV) guarantees contact with the dummies head (or airbag), yet does not simulate any of the pedestrian protection measures employed on real vehicles. At best, I treat IIHS results (including off-set) as worst case scenario test results. I do not let these tests keep me from buying the right car, and evaluate overall safety factors.
  • iluvmysephia1iluvmysephia1 Manson, WAPosts: 7,234
    I anticipated some eventual actual logic like your post above in helping to explain these IIHS test results. It's good and helpful to read. Looks like a small handful have done a little extra wondering about the Lund report and found it to have almost as many hangups as a dry cleaners. It does. I notice that Kia isn't wetting themself and posting all kinds of "sky is falling" statements about the Lund report. I, too, feel that a "worst-ever" rating is unwarranted and is inline with a lot of the bogus flak levelled at Kia Motors and in particular the Sephia and Spectra.


    To this day I still appreciate my '99 Kia Sephia as a great answer to the mundane Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla and a breath of automotive fresh air. The '01 Sportage 4x4 has been a great rig and is well-built and still very perky at 90,100 miles. Tomorrow is 90,000 mile service time for the small 4x4 SUV.

    2011 Kia Soul Sport 5-speed

  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,910
    It's not a "worst-ever" rating. It's the worst measured by the IIHS on the frontal offset test since '01.
  • alpha01alpha01 Posts: 4,747


    Why dont you call or write an email to the IIHS since you are so adamant about the results? In the past, when I have contacted the organization, they have responded fairly promptly. I do understand why are you are quick to defend Kia, and I agree, the organization should at least explain why a "Poor" rating was assigned without any actual poor marks in any of the categories.


    However, the fact remains that the Kia has performed more poorly in this test than any other small tested in recent years. Regardless of the overall marks, the injury measures and kinematics metrics should be an embarrasment to any auto manufacturer in the year 2004/5. When buyers comparison shop the Kia against the likes of the Elantra, for example, for which reason exactly should a consumer choice the Spectra over the similar, but more well realized vehicle? Kia has made leaps and bounds in the US, but it is obvious that the cars are still not at the top of the class. No biggie. Just dont assert that every negative review/performance is a result of bias.


    Bmcclain- The bumper tests of the IIHS are not very well publicized at all, in my opinion, and there are no claims EVER made by the IIHS that it is a 'safety' test. I have never understood the logic behind the argument that the fact that it is a group of Insurance organiztions coming together to REDUCE the COSTS OF INJURY AND REPAIR PAYOUTS means that the organization is corrupt in anyway.


    If manufacturers are capable of designing vehicles that mitigate fatality, injury, and in the bumper crashes... severe damage... what detriment is this to the public? Hardly one at all, in my opinion.


    With respect to the side impact test, you state you have never seen a barrier shaped as the one that the IIHS uses. Have you seen one that is shaped as NHTSA uses? The barrier is designed to simulate an SUV, which isnt a bad thing at all. Theres a gentleman on the Camry threads whose wife nearly lost her life because she was broadsided by an SUV in an impact very similar to the IIHS test, a scenario that occurs in different iterations at many intersections. The SUV test is demanding, and it should be. As a result of these tests, it would seem, automakers have come together themselves and stated that they would introduce life-saving technology such as side impact airbags and curtains on their vehicles earlier than would have occurred without government intervention. Honda's Accord is a good example.


  • iluvmysephia1iluvmysephia1 Manson, WAPosts: 7,234
    salesman there, the topic of the Kia Spectra frontal impact test came up. He said that Mr.Lund actually used an older Kia Spectra model-the lower-slung one that replaced the old Sephia model. Only it was a 2004 Kia Spectra. He said they conveniently left that out-that it wasn't one of the new Kia Spectra models. Did anybody see the front of the test Spectra on TV? Was it a new world order Spectra?

    2011 Kia Soul Sport 5-speed

  • If the IIHS test results are any indication, the 2004 spectra is one "scary" car. I don't see how anybody would want to put their life at risk in this particular car after learning of these results.


    But alpha, what do you mean by this statement "Its 2005,and most brand new designs perform well in this test." The IIHS results state that they go through the model 2005, if I'm not mistaken.


    I'd rather come up with a little extra money than get "dead" in this car. The pic where the dummy's head hit the steering wheel through the airbag was pretty frightening. I've been in a crash where the driver got his jaw broken by hitting the steering wheel and I wouldn't wish that on my worst enemy!


    Some of you are saying that side and/or curtain airbags being deployed would help this, but I don't see how. How would these keep the dummy's head from accelerating forward and striking the steering wheel??
  • I am in full agreement that the car in the video IS the new generation Spectra.


    I also must add that it's car salesmen like the guy in your post that gives the car sales profession a bad name.


    At best this guy was extremely misinformed (and too lazy to look up the facts to verify them for himself), or at worst he was purposely misleading (aka: lying to) the customer hoping that the customer would not have the wherewithal to verify his claim.


    Not as a knock on KIA specifically, but as one on the profession in general, my money's on the latter situation.


    Trust, but VERIFY! (As Ronnie used to say about the Russkies!)
  • mpalmer said:


    "If the IIHS test results are any indication, the 2004 spectra is one "scary" car. I don't see how anybody would want to put their life at risk in this particular car after learning of these results."




    Sorry "m", but I don't consider riding in my new Spectra "scary" by any stretch of the imagination.


    Riding in a '63 Ford Galaxie or '65 GMC pickup with metal dashboards and no seat belts at 65+ mph IS (in retrospect) scary.


    Riding in a rusted out '71 Pinto or '72 Maverick at 65+ mph with no seatbelts on IS (in retrospect) scary.


    Riding in an '83 Escort with NO airbags wearing seltbelts but with little or no crash testing of the vehicle is POSSIBLY scary.


    SOMEDAY, people may look back at the fact that humans rode in automobiles AT ALL and deem it "scary".


    But for right now, the fact that the Spectra isn't up to par with the best of the current crop of crash performers doesn't make it "scary" in my book.


    It's definitely a disappointment (as I've stated in earlier posts), and it would be nice if KIA addressed the issue is some fashion. But let's not (to use an old-fashioned term) "throw the baby out with the bathwater" and deem the Spectra as "scary".


    Drive a new Spectra for a few days to see how it performs under real world conditions before you deem it "scary". In my 40+ years of car riding and 20+ years of car driving, it is probably one of the best overall performing and safe vehicles I've experienced. It certainly has been the most defect free and value-for-the-money new vehicle I've ever purchased!


    But as Dennis Miller used to say, "That just my opinion. I could be wrong." :-)


  • Spectraman,


        I understand that you own a Spectra and for one reason or another that's all you could afford and/or you thought the car was a good deal. But...let's not sugar coat this very serious issue here.


    Spectraman says: But for right now, the fact that the Spectra isn't up to par with the best of the current crop of crash performers doesn't make it "scary" in my book."


    Not "up to par", huh? that's an understatement if I ever saw one. I'm sure that you had access to that IIHS video and saw the way that dummy's head hit that steering wheel and flopped around and struck the B-pillar, etc. I sure wouldn't want that to be MY head in a frontal crash.


    Yes, riding in an old car without airbags and seatbelts is certainly scary AND so is riding in the '04 spectra apparently.


    Spectraman says: "Drive a new Spectra for a few days to see how it performs under real world conditions before you deem it 'scary'". What for? I read the article from IIHS about the correlation between "real world conditions" and the crash tests results and so did you.


    Spectraman says: "It's definitely a disappointment, and it would be nice if KIa addressed the issue in some fashion." Ya think? you're right: it would be nice if they addressed this issue before people get killed in frontal crashes in their car. If they don't, it's plain irresponsible on their part and I hope they don't sell many of these cars.


    Look, I don't mean to attack you. That's not my intention. And it's obvious that you do believe in the validity of the IIHS crash tests, (as do many other informed consumers), or you wouldn't have acknowledged that the Spectra test results were a "dissapointment".


    I wanted to buy one of these cars, because it would be nice on my pocketbook. However, like I stated in an earlier post, I would rather spend the extra money on a BETTER car than wind up DEAD.
  • alpha01alpha01 Posts: 4,747
    I am not one to unnecessarily defend any make, but mpalmer, you're being seriously dramatic with respect to the IIHS test of the Spectra.


    And for your claim that you are not attacking spectraman, well thats exactly what it seems like to me. Everyone is entitled to their opinion (this coming from someone who has gone 'head-on' with Spectraman on the Kia issue).


    I agree with you that the issue should not be sugar-coated, but I personally dont think the spectra is scary or that Kia has been irresponsible, both of which you have stated. Kia meets or exceeds all government imposed standards, as do all makes. It is up to the informed consumer to decide for or against vehicles that may or may not do well in tougher IIHS tests. Do you feel that all the automakers who do not offer side airbags and curtain airbags, and thus receive awful scores in the IIHS side test, are irresponsible? FWIW, the Kia Spectra inflicted potentially serious head/neck trauma in the offset test, not certainly fatal injury. In comparison, cars that get rated Poor for chest or head/neck injury in the IIHS side test inflict likely fatal injuries to the occupant.


    You are most certainly entitled to your opinion regarding irresponsibility and scariness, as are we all. But there is definitely something to be said for logic and reason. This is the same reason that hound Spectraman for continually crying bias when a Kia gets a poor review.


  • Alpha, yes, I may have been a little dramatic--I admit that.


    Alpha says: Do you feel that all the automakers who do not offer side airbags and curtain airbags, and thus receive awful scores in the IIHS side test, are irresponsible?"


    Yes, I do.


    I understand your point, but personally, I don't see how any informed consumer who believes the validity of the IIHS crash tests would want to drive this car instead of a safer one like the Honda Civic( or something else).


    Alpha says: FWIW, the KIA Spectra inflicted potentially serious head/neck trauma in the offset test, not certainly fatal injury. In comparison, cars that get rated Poor for chest or head/neck injury in the IIHS side test inflict likely fatal injuries to the occupant."


    I don't buy this argument, though there is certainly logic to it. Even if fatality is more likely for a chest injury then it is for head/neck (which I haven't verified yet), so what? Why take the chance when there are safer economy cars out there?That's why these tests are done. And remember, the results on injury measures for this car were HIGH RISK to the head/neck.
  • 2004 NEW SPECTRA









    The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), under the U.S. Department of Transportation, was established by the Highway Safety Act of 1970, as the successor to the National Highway Safety Bureau, to carry out safety programs under the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1966 and the Highway Safety Act of 1966. The Vehicle Safety Act has subsequently been recodified under Title 49 of the U. S. Code in Chapter 301, Motor Vehicle Safety. NHTSA also carries out consumer programs established by the Motor Vehicle Information and Cost Savings Act of 1972, which has been recodified in various Chapters under Title 49.


    NHTSA is responsible for reducing deaths, injuries and economic losses resulting from motor vehicle crashes. This is accomplished by setting and enforcing safety performance standards for motor vehicles and motor vehicle equipment, and through grants to state and local governments to enable them to conduct effective local highway safety programs.


    NHTSA investigates safety defects in motor vehicles, sets and enforces fuel economy standards, helps states and local communities reduce the threat of drunk drivers, promotes the use of safety belts, child safety seats and air bags, investigates odometer fraud, establishes and enforces vehicle anti-theft regulations and provides consumer information on motor vehicle safety topics.

  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,910
    We did discuss these tests before, but since you brought it up... note that the new-in-2004 Spectra received lower NHTSA crash test scores overall than its sibling the Elantra, which was last redesigned in late 2000. Why can't a car based on the same platform as the Elantra and designed four years later have crash test results that are at least as good?
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,910
    From Kia's web site - About Kia:


    Safety first, from concept to crash test. Kia Motors is determined that every one of its vehicles should be as safe as possible, and this goal is ensured by a rigorous system of collision tests and simulations.


    Hmmm... maybe not as rigorous as they thought. Or maybe the same engineers crash-tested the Spectra as tested the '01 Elantra. :-(

  • edmoedmo Posts: 1
    I contacted Kia yesterday via their website to inquire whether my car could be upgraded with the new airbag. Kia called me today. The rep had no knowledge regarding changes to the airbag. I read him the info from the IIHS crash test results page; after putting me on hold, he said he was aware of no plans to recall the 2004 cars for an upgrade, and that Kia stood by the "real world safety" of their cars.
    I then asked if the '05 airbag could be installed on the '04 cars. He first recommended that I call a Kia service department to find out, but said he could make that call for me after I suggested he probably had contacts he could use. He later came back to say that the 2005 airbags could not be installed in the 2004 cars. I don't believe that, but Kia obviously doesn't want to absorb the costs of a recall to deal with this issue.

  • spectramanspectraman Posts: 255

    Thanks for posting the info about retro-fitting the new airbag. I submitted an informative complaint with the NHTSA about a month ago requesting that KIA offer retrofits for 2004.5 - 2005 Spectras. My rationale that this should be possible came from this text in the retest results on the IIHS website:

    "The evaluation of the Spectra below is based on the test of a 2005 model built before January 2005 but retrofitted prior to the test with the redesigned airbag. However, because no structural changes were made, the structure rating is based on tests of both the 2005 and 2004 models."
    ( See full results of the retest here: )

    I highly doubt that the 2004.5 and pre-January 2005 Spectra wheel column and electronics design changed so drastically that the new airbag can't be retrofitted. Some how they pulled it off for the IIHS test!!!!

    I'm hoping that posts like these will create some pressure on both the government and KIA to make retrofits available.

    So c'mon fellow 2004.5/2005 Spectra owners! Send those cards and letters in! :-)

    Here's the link to the NHTSA site where you can submit a complaint:

  • About two weeks ago I hit a deer in my Spectra5. Safety features worked very well. I felt a very slight bump in the car, not enough for me to even feel the seat belt pushing against me. The contact was in front on the passenger's side. Since there was no one sitting there, the airbag did not go off. But the front end was crushed. Everything, including the radiator got pushed back. The deer bounced five feet into the air and dropped into the ditch.The damage is $4000+. But it is covered under the comprehensive part of my insurance. So I don't have to pay anything. If nothing else, The Spectra5 is a relatively safe car.
  • Wow smalltown, that's something. Sorry to hear you had the experience, but also glad to read that you are okay, the damage is covered & that you feel that way about the car....good to know that things worked as they should.

    Will be interested to hear how things go with the repairs....keep us posted.

    Stay safe!
  • Got the car back today to the tune of $4900. The mechanic who worked on it said everything is laid out logically and it was an easy car to work on. Of course he doesn't want me to have another accident, but he would gladly work on a Kia again. What I didn't say before is that I hit the deer on a two-lane road, going about 55 at 9:30 A.M. when deers are supposed to be resting!
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,910
    I guess no one bothered to tell the deer that they were supposed to be resting! :surprise: I almost hit two deer that ran onto a two-lane road about the same time of day a week ago. Fortunately I was able to swerve and miss--I really don't want to test the crash-worthiness of my car that much, and my entire family was in the car.
  • Great feedback, smalltown, it's reassuring to hear the mechanic's POV.

    Backy, glad to hear your experience was a close call only. Yikes!

    All still new for me (~6wks/2300km) so do not yet have any experience on the service side of things. Here's to hoping none arise before my scheduled first appointment in September!

    Lovin' my Spectra! :D
  • NOTE: This recall is 5 months old, and only affected a small number of units

    Spectra recall info posted on NHTSA website:

    Model and Year: KIA/SPECTRA/2005

    NHTSA Campaign Number: 05V-183


    Number of units affected: 368

    Recall Date: 4/12/2005





    DATES OF MANUFACTURE: 02/22/2005 thru 03/28/2005

    No injuries or litigation were reported as of May 2005 due to this defect.

    The defect was found during a routine final vehicle inspection at the Hwasang manufacturing plant on March 23, 2005.

  • Some additional information to add to the recall info above:

    A total of 5,072 vehicles had suspect tie-rods. Only 368 were delivered to dealers and/or customers. 4,704 units were caught and corrected before being sent out to the dealers.

    So..... if your car was built during the 2/22/05-3/28/2005 period, you may want to stop by your dealership to see if they can 100% verify that your vehicle was corrected.

  • I was traveling 55 mph, in my 05 Spectra, when a high school girl pulled in front of me. I had no other choice but to t-bone her into the side. My air bags never deployed. $7600 worth of damage was done. Even the seatbelt locked up so tight that they had to replace it. I only walked out with inner chest contusions but was real surprised that the airbags did not deploy. But I was okay and the car was fixed.
  • Has anyone experienced the driver seat metal bracket snapping? Mine did and Kia is trying to not be responsible for it.
  • PF_FlyerPF_Flyer Pennsylvania Furnace, PAPosts: 7,966
    Talk with Ian Beavis – Vice President of Marketing of Kia Motors of America about building the Kia brand in the U.S. Get exclusive takes from an industry leader about Kia's quality, safety, product development and globalization in the automotive marketplace.

    Don't miss your chance to chat with Ian Beavis, a veteran in the automotive industry the inside questions you want to know.

    Please join us for this chat with Ian Beavis – Vice President of Marketing of Kia Motors of America tonight from 6-7pm PT, 9-10pm ET

    Edmunds Moderator

    Need some roadside assistance? - or send a private message by clicking on my name.

    Just purchased or leased a vehicle? Share your vehicle reviews

    PF_Flyer's 2014 Versa Note Long Term Blog
    How To Start Your Own Long Term Blog

This discussion has been closed.