Kia Cerato LD

Even today, these cars can still be found in quite decent condition. Below you will see a detailed account of the main problems that can occur.

Of course, the Cerato was much more modern than its predecessor, but with us the main argument is traditionally the price. These cars were cheap and almost never broke down, but they cost one and a half times cheaper than a Toyota Corolla or Mitsubishi Lancer. Kia Cerato appeared in 2003 as a car of the next, 2004 model year. The car underwent its first restyling in 2007 model year, and the updates were mostly cosmetic. 

Technically, the car does not represent anything outstanding. The J3 platform makes Cerato similar to Hyundai Matrix, Elantra ED and Tucson. Drive - only front, suspensions - McPherson, motors - gasoline 1.6-2.0 liters and diesel. There is a choice between manual and automatic gearboxes. 

Cerato can boast not bad by the standards of class equipment, even with a claim to prestige. However, in the American style - that it looks soft and big, and in the top configuration with plastic "wood" in the interior. But noise insulation is really good here.

Everything is made surprisingly qualitatively.  And results of tests of passive safety show that Koreans have made a good and strong body. However, it was more than ten years ago....

No matter what they say about the quality of Korean cars of the beginning of the century, but they painted them well enough. And the metal was good quality. But galvanization seems to be a myth. The appearance of most of the cars after restyling inspires hope for a good internal condition. The condition of cars before restyling may be a bit worse, but there are still enough externally quite good copies.  

The main troubles on these cars are not very noticeable. The easiest thing to notice is blooming chips on the hood and roof edge, but fortunately, damage in this area is not often triggered. The windshield frame rusts quickly, but this kind of damage is also tried not to start. But the sills are a real problem here. 

In the front part the sill usually holds, but starting from the middle of the driver's door some problems begin. Either it starts to rot out from the bottom, or rust under the outer molding or from the holes of fastening clips. It is better not to touch the rear part of the sill with something hard - corrosion sharpens it from inside. The arch reinforcement that rests on the sill, the sill stiffener, the sill itself - all of this is slowly decaying.  Finding a car that doesn't have at least the slightest sign of this affliction is unrealistic. It will be either a recently repaired copy with rewelded sills by a master restorer, or a miracle. Usually everything here is greased and painted. It is hard to cut the whole sill, so when repairing, they make patches, not paying attention to the rot inside the sill.

The cause of the sill problems is in the rear wheel arch. Sandblasting and moisture damage the seams of the inner arch at the front of the arch, and there is a small "nook" at the bottom of the arch where the arch seam starts to rot. This is often enough to cause serious sill and cavity problems above. There is a "pocket" inside the body, in which moisture accumulates, so rotting usually occurs in this area.  Further water and dirt get into the gap between the inner and outer arch and begin to filter into the sill. From the outside, the process is not noticeable until the outer fender arch rots, and it is either galvanized or just well painted, so it rots last, when the inside is already mostly corpse.  

Look in the sill vent, brush off the layer of dirt from inside the rear arch. And if somewhere you see loose rust with perforations, then you will have to reweld half of the car. The only way to solve the problem qualitatively and permanently - cut the rear fender, cut out all the rot, put a new sill and reinforcements. 

Guess how often Cerato owners bother with extensive repairs?  It seems to me, too, that not often. And cars with traces of rust and cosmetic repair of sills are the absolute majority. In the price category up to 250 thousand - almost all of them. So carefully check the amount of damage in the body arch. Up to some point you can do with anticor and patching holes, but further damage to the arch becomes dangerous for the structural integrity of the body - after all, it is its power element.

There is usually very little corrosion in the front arches. But in cars operated with a high load on the suspension, the sealing of the arch seams from the inside is broken. Corrosion comes out from under the layer of sealant, and if the seams between the suspension cup and the engine shield are damaged, the repair will be very expensive.

Rot and bubbles on the edge of the arches, in hidden areas under the bumpers, on the front panel and in the recess under the windshield are also common. On the underbody, there are usually many pockets of corrosion. Most often it is just surface corrosion, unpleasant, but not too dangerous.  True, the sides of the trunk can rot through. Rot around the antenna on the rear fender is expected - it is a vibro-loaded element, and the paint around it gradually deteriorates. You need to either touch up the paint in time and remove the part, or remove the antenna altogether by welding the hole.

Unfortunately, rust is also found inside the car. Due to miscalculations in the design of the rear shelf, moisture is often found in the trunk, and inside the rear arch on the body there is a cup stiffener. It's power-assisted here (the McPherson suspension implies a top-mounted strut), so the consequences can be serious. You can find traces of corrosion on the seams of the stiffener and the arch. Underneath the mat where the arch, stiffener and floor meet, corrosion on the seams appears at the slightest sign of moisture. Rust spots, rotted brackets and fasteners can also be found on seat mountings, wiring harnesses at the sill and in the area under the pedals. 

Against this background, weak headlights and bumper side mounts, weak fog lamp mounts and glass that rubs and does not like to be blown by hot air seem to be quite insignificant shortcomings. These elements are inexpensive even in the original version, and we can not even talk about Chinese copies. The wiper trapeze, prone to the appearance of backlash and destruction of joints, also does not greatly upset car owners. Short-lived washer pumps and tanks, afraid of defrosting, are also not the worst thing in this life. Just check them when buying and remember that the car was not created for centuries, but spare parts for it are still sold and are inexpensive.

Owners are much more annoyed with torn cables of door locks drive. And there is a separate cable for locking and a separate one for lock drive. The latter usually breaks. It is always better to have at least a cable for the driver's door. You can change it yourself, although it is not too easy. However, sometimes it is not the cable that is to blame for the inoperability of the lock, but the lock itself or the door wiring, which also often fail.


The Cerato's interior is clearly one of the car's strengths. Its design and execution are better than you would expect from a car of this class and age. But age, unfortunately, is merciless. Leather and plastic on the steering wheel after a hundred thousand kilometers of mileage do not look very good. Seats are very sensitive to the weight of the driver, and if he is heavy, the padding gradually spreads, and the seat loses its shape. Fabric lining is good, but "eco-leather" tears too quickly.

The quality of interior assembly is quite acceptable, though due to the abundance of relatively small elements, it still starts to squeak and knock with time. Cerato has not very reliable climate system. The heater radiator often fails here. It is difficult and expensive to change - with partial disassembly and removal of the front panel. The heater fan can squeak or stop at all at the mileage up to one hundred thousand kilometers.

True, sometimes a hundred thousand - it is not a real mileage at all: it is easily and without a trace. And taking into account that many owners of cars with mileage over 200 thousand have no problems with the fan, it is quite possible that these units really work for a long time, and the "early" malfunctions are caused solely by the rolled-up mileage.

Electrics and electronics

Kia Cerato is an inexpensive car, so its electronics are not too complicated. There are no mass electrical problems in Cerato, but typical small troubles do occur.

First of all, they include door and trunk corrugations, in which wires were usually spliced more than once.  And short-circuits here can be dangerous, the Koreans have saved on the materials of pads and corrugations, so even fire is possible.

Generator resource in the city is usually 200 thousand, but it does not like dirt and dust of dirt roads. Relay-regulator is afraid of "cigarette lighters" from boosters and bad battery terminals. Besides, it is inclined to under-voltage in winter to 13,2-13,5 V, so the accumulators do not last very long.

The passenger compartment fuse box, which is also partly a comfort block (BCM, body control module), is responsible for a huge number of "glitches" and successfully creates them. Firstly, it has non-replaceable relays inside, the resource of which is limited to about 10 years of operation. Secondly, it is afraid of corrosion of contacts and the electronics board itself. Thirdly, it is no stranger to trivial swollen capacitors. 

The underhood fuse box and relays with the main power relay are not very tight. And the under-hood space is poorly protected from dirt, besides, water gets there through the wiring inlet in the arch. First of all, it is the main power relay that suffers, provoking a gradual failure of consumers. It is easier to change or restore this block than the passenger compartment block, and prevention consists in treatment of cable entry with any moisture-displacing compositions. Well and it is desirable to drive less on puddles and keep an eye on the wheel arch locker.

Rotten "masses" on old cars cause a lot of problems. In Cerato at the initial stage of the problem is manifested mainly by jumping readings of sensors, although, for example, the fuel level sensor is not very reliable in itself.

Brakes, suspension and steering

The Cerato's braking system is quite decent for a budget car. Of course, Mando components are not too durable, but original parts are cheap. The main troubles are connected with an unsuccessful ABS unit. It does not have a very resourceful motor, located near the washer filler and under the GUR tank. It often corrodes from the inside. Most of the problems at an early stage can be solved with little blood. So if the ABS/TCS lights have just started to light up, the chances of solving the problem inexpensively are good. Brake lines get rotten in the rear little by little, and brake pipes swell with infrequent brake fluid changes. Their metal components rust, damaging the rubber. They need to be looked after carefully.

The resource of calipers is quite acceptable. After 7-10 years, it usually requires reassembly, and if you drive for a long time with dead dust covers and jammed fingers, you will have to do a full repair. Mechanisms require a little more careful and accurate maintenance than Teves, Bosch or Lucas in European and American cars. 

The suspension of the cars is quite strong.  Structurally, it is very simple, with the cheapest consumables. The disadvantages include not very strong hub bearings and weak front strut supports. But if you put the original components, their resource will be more than a hundred thousand, and this is very good. 

Resource of original shock absorbers with full load on bad roads leaves much to be desired. But for fans of rally there are other cars or at least spare parts from coplatform Tucson and Santa Fe, which are stronger than purely passenger cars. The minus of the suspension is its "talkativeness". Even a small wear and tear almost always provides a good sound, and a usual stabilizer bar sounds like a completely killed lever.

The steering with a steering control system is quite reliable. In any case, almost all cars with the original steering rack are able to reach the mileage of 200-250 thousand. But the steering pump does not like low oil level very much. It starts howling immediately, and does not stop doing it even after refilling. There are a lot of reasons of leakage on age cars, but mainly the unsuccessful design of the radiator of GUR is to blame. It is made in the form of a small plate radiator and leaks in the place where the tubes pass through the housing plate. Most often, at the first signs of oiling, it is replaced by a meter of ordinary tubing.  It quite copes with the task, although the rail or pump can fail a little earlier. True, it is difficult to check.  The probability of leaks through other elements of the hydraulic system is much lower than through the radiator. 

The rack itself is not very repairable, and with prolonged operation on dirty oil is prone to "biting" - wear of the central part of the body.

Steering rods and lugs are weak, do not like wheels more than standard ones, but at their cost it is not a serious problem either.


Kia Cerato is only available in front-wheel drive. However, even in this case, there is enough trouble with shafts and ball joints. The resource of joints itself is moderate, 100-200 thousand they usually pass, but the limits, as you can see, turned out to be wide. Often the resource ends just at the mark of 100 thousand. By two hundred thousand these details are usually already replaced at least once or have passed preventive maintenance with replacement of grease and covers and just live out their life with backlashes and vibrations, not going beyond a very uncomfortable level.

Worse is another thing: the design of shafts in Hyundai and Kia transmissions of that moment was not very successful. Their splined connectors simply rotted away. If you don't fill them with grease every few years, the chances of the shaft rotting are quite high.  In addition, catalogs shamelessly lie about the applied joints when selecting by VIN, so to buy the right parts, it is better to see them in person and count the splines.

Mechanical gearboxes come in several variants, but all of them do not please with high reliability. The resource of bearings and safety margin of differential, synchronizers and other elements are not large. There are complaints about the operation of the lubrication system. All boxes do not like hard operation with slippage and shock shifts and overloads. However, it is compensated by relatively budgetary repair. Clutch life is not outstanding, but parts are cheap and easy to change. Drive failures are not too frequent.

Motors with a volume of 1.6 and rare in our country 1.8-liter are supposed to control of M5BF2 series. Other variants are less common. Unfortunately, after restyling there are M5CF1 and M5CF2 transmissions, which are noticeably weaker. Two-liter motors most often work with a box M5CF2, although with a more successful M5BF2 cars are also found. Only M56CF2 works with 1.5-liter diesel engine.

Perhaps, the most successful variant of the manual gearbox is the old M5BF2. It is strong enough and resourceful, and if sometimes to change oil, to follow oil seals, not to bump for a long time and not to play racers, this box is quite capable to survive the car. Usually it gives up at mileage over 300 thousand, although the missed oil level can kill it much faster. And oil leaks are not uncommon due to weak oil seals. Synchronizers often work poorly on older cars, although it is still possible to shift gears slowly.

The M5CF1/ M5CF2 family boxes cause the most trouble. Leaks have not become less frequent, but the lighter design has hit reliability hard. Weaker housing and shafts, especially on CF1, lead to rapid failure of bearings, and often at mileage up to a hundred thousand kilometers the boxes already begin to howl. Synchronizers, which have run out by 150 thousand kilometers - also quite a typical situation. 

Boxes have become very sensitive to driving style. They can withstand overloads worse, and the differential has become quite weak. It happened that with 1.6-liter engine after a couple of summer starts with slippage it wedged. In addition, the locking ring of the third gear in the whole series of boxes is flying out. Overheating of the boxes leads to loosening of the bearings and damage to the housing.

It is not worth to delay with repairs of these boxes. Various additives slightly reduce the noise, but often lead to the fact that after 40-50 thousand kilometers the box is sent not to repair, but to the dump because of the wedge.

But automatic transmission in Cerato is very reliable. Its resource is much more stable than that of mechanics. The gearbox here is of its own production, series A4AF3. After restyling, it was replaced by A4BF2.  

With at least minimal maintenance, oil change once every 50 thousand kilometers and no overheating, it serves more than 300 thousand. And only "racers" will require more frequent maintenance or even replacement of GDT linings. In case of rare oil changes at mileage over 150 thousand kilometers, it may be necessary to replace one or more solenoids of the hydraulic block.

When operating on dirty oil and high loads, the probability of breakdowns, of course, increases. There may be wear of the direct drum caliper, early wear of the brake band, bushings, ovedrive drum thrust bearing and wear of the direct drum splines.

To prolong the life of the automatic is highly recommended to install an external filter, and on cars with a two-liter engine does not hurt to put and external radiator of larger size. And, of course, oil should be changed regularly. It is better - much more often than once in 60 thousand.


The engines on the KIA Cerato come in two series: the 1.6-liter engines belong to the Alpha II series, while the 1.8 and 2.0-liter engines belong to the Beta II series. They are all very conservative, taking their pedigree from Mitsubishi motors, with cast iron block, timing belt drive and additional inter-shaft chain. They are characterized by a simple and reliable control system, equally simple attachments and very high reliability. True, rubber products and radiators after five to eight years of operation are usually not in the best shape. And the resource of components with bearings is frankly low. But the prices for these spare parts are very forgiving, and the quality of non-original parts is higher than that of original parts.

Younger 1.6-liter engines belong to the series G4ED-G, although sometimes there are older G4ED. These motors are quite noisy, even despite the presence of hydrocompensators. Unfortunately, they are prone to developing an oil appetite. Almost necessarily, it will be provided by several conditions: do not spin the motor, pour oil, and change it once in 15 thousand in city mode. If you are a more careful and accurate owner, you may be lucky.

The main source of noise is the inter-shaft chain. It is often forgotten about, and its tensioner is not changed. And hydrocompensators do not work well after 100,000 mileage. It is better to change them all at once at every second replacement of the timing belt. In addition, due to the conservative system of crankcase ventilation, oil leaks appear from time to time.

Despite all of the above, the motors pass their 250-350 thousand kilometers at normal service. And with quality service they serve even more. They are inexpensive to repair, spare parts are available, repair technologies are almost primitive, and they are tolerant to operation errors.

Motors with the volume of 2,0 and 1,8 liters are called G4GC and G4GB. Structurally, they are almost the same as 1.6-liter ones. The minus is the absence of hydrocompensators. However, if not to put GBO, there is nothing terrible in it: once in 40 thousand to check and if necessary to adjust valves - not so burdensome.

These motors do not have a very successful hydraulic belt tensioner, prone to leaks. At cold starts, the chances of the belt slipping are quite high, especially if the oil is at the limit of fluidity. 

The resource of the timing belt is a maximum of 60 thousand, but many recommend changing it more often, at least once every 50 thousand. And this is not a reinsurance - the original sets often could not reach the stated resource. Motors are moderately inclined to oil appetite, it is better not to operate them on cheap oils and change oil more often. Reduction of noise and vibration load of the motor is partially helped by timely replacement of power unit supports.

In terms of layout, the motors are not the most successful, but the censures mainly concern minor inconveniences in maintenance.

Cast iron block does not show wonders of anticorrosion resistance, so it is better to change antifreeze in time. And age machines have a lot of problems with studs and bolts during overhaul for this reason. 

All this does not prevent cars with this engine to have mileage over 300 thousand without serious repairs. And spare parts for this motor are also inexpensive.


Kia Cerato of the first generation belongs to the generation of Korean cars, which, for all the budgetary performance, were not only extremely cheap in operation, but also very reliable. This car can not boast a perfect design, but its design has not been ruined by the course on simplification and further cheapening.

Unfortunately, Cerato was badly let down by the body structure. There are few cars with well-preserved rear arches and sills. But all possible shortcomings of the design are paid off by low prices for spare parts and their good availability.