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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi All,
I'm new to the forum, and recently had an ordeal with my 2019 Niro PHEV (30k miles). I wanted to get folks' suggestions about what to do next.

A few months ago, I needed to drive from Blacksburg, VA (near Roanoke) down to the Savannah, GA area. About 6 hrs into my trip, going ~75 mph most of the way, I hit Augusta at around 10pm. The overheating alarm goes off, and i pull over and find the coolant reservoir empty and the engine oil dipstick blown out with engine oil spewed around the hole. I wait for the engine to cool, fill the reservoir, and drive less than a mile down the road until it overheats again. Stop at another gas station, and the reservoir is empty again. I put some more coolant in, and drain half of it out by revving the gas pedal while the vehicle is in park. It was raining and dark, so I couldn't tell if it was going on the ground, but I assumed a leak and gave up for the night. Clearly I'm not going anywhere, so i find a motel room and get it towed to Kia of Augusta in the morning. They tell me they won't be able to look at it for at least several days, and don't have any parts for it anyway. No loaner car since they aren't sure it's a problem that's covered under warranty. No rental cars are available in the whole city, so I end up flying home and returning the next week to pick it up, all out of pocket. Oof.

When they call me, they tell me they've drained, refilled and bled the coolant system and that they can't find anything wrong with it. They test drive it for ~150 miles (a tech took it home several evenings), and never had any overheating issues. I asked them to test for coolant in the oil, given the dipstick blowout, and they say it came back negative. So they don't charge me anything (which was nice of them), but haven't done anything to fix the underlying issue and won't do any more since it appears to run just fine. I don't trust it, so i end up driving home rather than continuing on the trip i had intended. It made it back to VA just fine in 6 hours of continuous driving at interstate speeds up into the mountains.

So now I'm stuck...we've driven it around town for a couple months and it has never shown any signs of overheating, but we've never taken it out for more than an hour. I'm scared to take it out on longer road trips now, but don't know what else to do. I'm thinking about taking it to the local dealer here and asking them to test the head gasket, but from reading about @cruztaker 's ordeal, sounds expensive and out of pocket. Based on the described events, does a head gasket issue seem likely, and worth paying to test for? Any other thoughts on possible causes, or strategies for dealing with the local dealership here? I've never had to deal with dealerships before, and this is my first new car, but it was pretty frustrating and the feeling of comfort from the remaining warranty has evaporated after being treated the way I was in Augusta and reading about others' issues here.

Thanks for any advice!
 

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Niro HEV, 2020, Dynamic Link, UVO, EPB, 10"-AVN, Navi
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1. If it happens again and you need to refill, let the reservoir open (close it with a rag) so that no pressure can arise and drive carefully and check the coolant.
2. Contact KIA headquarter with this and go to another KIA service.
 
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
1. If it happens again and you need to refill, let the reservoir open (close it with a rag) so that no pressure can arise and drive carefully and check the coolant.
2. Contact KIA headquarter with this and go to another KIA service.
OK, good to know about driving it with the reservoir open, thanks for this suggestion. When it happened, the reservoir drained so fast that I wouldn't be able to get anywhere anyway, but it could be slower next time, i guess.
 

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Just a guess, but maybe the dipstick was not properly seated the last time someone checked it?

I would seriously consider replacing the thermostat. I'd also keep an eye on the reservoir and the oil. If you have water in the oil, you might find brown sludgy deposits under the oil filler cap.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Just a guess, but maybe the dipstick was not properly seated the last time someone checked it?
That could be. I hadn't checked or changed the oil recently, but it had recently gone through the VA state safety inspection, so perhaps they checked it then.


I would seriously consider replacing the thermostat. I'd also keep an eye on the reservoir and the oil. If you have water in the oil, you might find brown sludgy deposits under the oil filler cap.
Any way to test the thermostat, or just take it in and ask them to replace it? I'll keep an eye on both, and look for the brown sludge.

Thanks for the advice, much appreciated.
 

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Yes you can test the thermostat by putting it in a pot of cold water, and then putting the pot on the stove and heating the water to near-boiling. You should see it closed when the water is cold, and it should open as the water gets hot.

But you might not want to bother with testing it. The 2017 service manual link for replacing the thermostat is here: Kia Niro : Thermostat Repair procedures : Cooling System yours is probably similar. My theory is that yours might be intermittently sticking, so heating it up in water doesn't necessarily prove that it won't fail at some future point. Also, there is a fair amount of work involved in replacing it. Thermostats used to be cheap to replace, but I haven't tried to replace one on the Niro, so I don't know what this will cost.

It just occurred to me that another thing you should check (and maybe replace) are any fuses for the radiator cooling fan.

Also, an old trick that sometimes works when your engine is overheating is to turn on the cabin heat and run the fan full blast. That can compensate if the radiator fan isn't able to cool the water.

Also, you might want to reconfigure your instrument cluster display so that the engine temp is displayed full time. Figure out what looks like normal operating temp (mine typically shows the temp bar at less than half of it's possible travel) and become concerned when it looks like it might be exceeding that temp.

Overheating your engine can cause serious damage: don't take this lightly.
 

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Since you have to remove the thermostat to test it anyway, I say just replace it and be done with it. They don't cost that much, and then there's no longer a question about its function.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Also, you might want to reconfigure your instrument cluster display so that the engine temp is displayed full time. Figure out what looks like normal operating temp (mine typically shows the temp bar at less than half of it's possible travel) and become concerned when it looks like it might be exceeding that temp.
I've been doing this whenever i drive, and it always stays at or below the 1/2 mark.

It just occurred to me that another thing you should check (and maybe replace) are any fuses for the radiator cooling fan.
Since you have to remove the thermostat to test it anyway, I say just replace it and be done with it. They don't cost that much, and then there's no longer a question about its function.
Just for my understanding, I was thinking the overheating was the direct result of the empty coolant reservoir, caused by a leak or a blown gasket or something. Is overheating it like I did likely to damage the thermostat or the radiator fan fuses? These seem like possible alternative causes for the overheating, but since the coolant was empty and continued to drain upon refilling, it seems like that's the most likely cause, right? Thanks for the helpful advice, sorry if these are stupid questions!
 

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I don't have any advice. Just want to say, " Sad to hear all this." Has to be every frustrating for first new car.

Intermittent problems are worse that anything (not a lot dealer can do if problem not there and makes warranty useless). A few bad things like this even with all the good things hear about these cars makes one wonder of should keep a NIRO or not.

Se far at 45,105 miles on a 2017 Hybrid - been OK. That said, also have the stutter, jerkiness, and crazy things on the entertainment (comes on by itself even). Drives good and MPG is just over 50 for the 45,105 miles.

I don't take it in for maintenance - change my own oil and that is about it.
 

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My first question is where was the coolant going when it overheated.
White smoke from exhaust pipe would point to blown head gasket.
Coolant leaking into oil will turn whitish.
Blown head gasket could blow coolant out the reservoir if not capped but a blown head gasket would be unusual in Niro and a head gasket will not "fix" itself.
Thermostat is highly unlikely as well.
 

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This could also be a place:

Organism Font Wheel Slope Natural foods
 
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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
This could also be a place:

View attachment 7026
Yes, Gerd_NL has shown a very possible reason for the coolant loss issue and subsequent overheating.
Thanks for these ideas. So the idea is that there could have been a leak somewhere in the heat exchanger in the EHRS, with the coolant going into the exhaust, or just out onto the ground?
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
My first question is where was the coolant going when it overheated.
White smoke from exhaust pipe would point to blown head gasket.
Coolant leaking into oil will turn whitish.
Blown head gasket could blow coolant out the reservoir if not capped but a blown head gasket would be unusual in Niro and a head gasket will not "fix" itself.
Thermostat is highly unlikely as well.
Good to know. I wish I had looked more carefully for where the coolant might have been going at the time, but alas i did not.
 
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