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2nd gen Kia Sorento XM - Halfway between great Potential and downsizing production Costs.

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A little background story of the Model, in my own words:


The first gen of the Kia Sorento was an old fashioned SUV, you know, front engine with rear Differential and some models got a powerful V6 engine that could compete with sports cars from its age; however that was during the late years of Kia being Kia, because since the Hyundai purchase, the true "Ford-Mazda-Kia" spirit that once the company had, faded to the much more crappy and commercial "Hyundai-Mitsubish¡t" Spirit, you know...

...So, this Second gen of the Kia Sorento is nothing else than a third gen of the Hyundai Santa Fe, but showing another interior, body and brand logo on it; sold thru other distribution; somehow looks like a different vehicle but mechanically both are the same, plattform, engines, transmissions, etc...

Long story short: I had to deal with some of those; troubleshoot their weakest areas and improve them as much as I could, fixing the known problems and unknown ones, and transforming those onto much safer vehicles, under a low budget; yes that was possible, the solutions are easy and works flawlessly and, as usual; I wanted to share them here freely to you; as they could help many people to improve their Sorentos, and even their third gen Santa Fes, among other related models in certain subjects.

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I do not want to open a can of worms, but regarding the sadly, well known issue with this Theta and Theta II engines on these Kias:



And their almost twin brothers in the Hyundai lineup; and also having experienced the Engine's explosion on a friend's 2013 Santa Fe 2.0 Turbo; and seeing what happened to his car's engine in person; and finally after reading too much information regarding said explosions and seeing online videos on the Subject; I wondered why nobody talks about finding something to do in order to avoid these explosions from happening; everybody talks about them, shows photos and videos along their stories, but seems like no one cares about prevention... if any could be done on these engines.

And I was really worried for my Friend who owns a 2012 Sorento with one of those 2.5L in-line four cylinder engines... as he travels very long with his car, across many central-american countries, along his family...

So, I tried to figure out if there is anything that could be done to these engines, that could help to elongate their lifespan and avoid explosions and seizures from happening.

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1 minute ago, Loyale 2.7 Turbo said:

... having experienced the Engine's explosion on a friend's 2013 Santa Fe 2.0 Turbo; and seeing what happened to his car's engine in person ...


Let me share some photos with you.

This is how my Friend's 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe 2.0 Turbo engine, ended after exploding while cruisin' @ ~ 60 Mph:









A broken inner piece trespassed the Block's metal so hard...



...that it even damaged the Starter Motor outside! :blink:



He really was in Huge danger, not only was hazardous loosing control of his car with the family inside; but also it was dangerous to be stranded in the late night in a solitary road in this little and crazy country, you know...

Also, six months lasted the search for a suitable replacement engine, besides the sky high expensive costs, he lost a needed car for all that time. Nightmarish, isn't it?

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So, back to the 2012 Sorento subject of this thread; I tried to find an explanation and a possible way to avoid an explosion, or at least, something to do in order to elongate the Engine's Lifespan. After searching online several nights, for long time, without success; I convinced my Friend, the owner of this 2012 Sorento, to let me check the state of the inners on his engine, and do a deep cleansing on it, finally pour fresh oil and a new filter on it; with the Promise of not modifying anything without his consentment.

What I found, after opening it, was the normal scenario for an almost 90,000 miles, in-line four cylinder engine; some varnish and little sludge, because it was well cared, and has been using Valvoline's full synthetic motor oil, only.

Nothing looked out of place, no debris nor abnormal sludge accumulation; the only weird thing that I found, was a simple thing that looked like a Bad idea in my mind: I found a metal cap that blocks almost all the entrance area at the opening of the oil pick up tube going to the oil pan (carter); which has only a very tiny hole on it, to let access the oil for being sucked by the oil pump; which limits too much the lubricating capabilities of the system. 

Such cap is often known as a "Baffle" as it gets confused with the genuine baffles that older cars' engines had there; those baffles were shaped similar to a spoon to aid oil suction to the oil pick up tube, whenever the vehicle travels on inclined terrains, curves and steep slopes... But these engines doesn't have a Baffle as it should be, No; they have a cap with a tiny hole at the oil pick up tube's opening. That's it, period.

Oh my God! ... :o ... this surely limits the flow of motor oil during hard / deep accelerations, restricting the amount of oil flowing, mainly in the mere moments where lubrication is needed the most, during hard accelerations or power needed.

In my own humble opinion, said cap with a small hole, in front of the filter mesh at the oil pick up tube's opening, was placed there as part of the "Programmed Obsolescence" industrial way of thinking; as such oil flow restriction could be the cause of the premature wear and thus might explain some of the well known problems and issues of these engines, as it leads to improper lubrication, thus means having very hot spots on the engine's metal; then mix that with the high pressure GDi fuel injection system; and you'll realize how such mixture becomes a time bomb...

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Here you can see my beloved Subaru "BumbleBeast" behind one of the Sorentos on which I've done this simple modification, in fact this was the third one and it belonged back then to my Best Friend: my Father, he passed away on late 2019 ... the Sorento now belongs to my mother.




In the next photo below, you can see the Metal Cap in its place,
covering the filtering mesh at the opening of the oil pick up tube:



Notice the small hole on it, something around 1/4 of the total opening's area:



Notice how the filtering mesh looks like without the Cap,
almost all the cars that I've serviced, looks like this: (No cap at all)



But sadly, these engines needs the Cap there to hold the filtering mesh in its place; so what I did to "Solve" the problem,

was to modify the cap by empty all the metal on it, so it ends being a simple "Ring" to hold the filtering mesh in its place,

as factory intended, but without being restrictive at all. See:



Right after reinstalling this ring, I cleansed everything, reinstalled the oil pan (carter) with mega grey silicone, waited some time then poured fresh Valvoline's synthetic motor oil and swapped a brand new oil filter... I did this procedures long years ago, but I delayed the date to share it online, here, as it is a Subaru forum, mainly... then I've been studying the engine's behaviour after this modification; and in the words of the Sorento's Owner: "I feel the engine a little more responsive" ... everything is working fine and the engine runs smooth as silk, even today, quiet yet powerful.

This procedure is very Easy, you only need to remove the oil pan (carter) to do it, modify the restrictive cap to turn it onto a holding ring, and reinstall the oil pan (Carter) using mega Grey silicone. A fresh oil change and that's it!

I really hope in God that this could be the answer, or at least, this will help the engine to keep a proper oil flow and thus elongates its lifespan.

Disclaimer: I am not telling nor suggesting you to do what I did, use all my ideas, my photos and my written information shared, at your very own risk.

Additional information, I've done this modification, to three Sorentos so far and their owners are very pleased with the Results; furthermore, I shared this idea on a closed group of mechanics on whatsapp since late 2016 and as far as I know, they swear that it prevents premature wear and keeps these engines from getting noisier with age and mileage.

Kind greetings from the Caribbean Honduras.

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18 minutes ago, 1 Lucky Texan said:

huh, seems like if this hole were small enough (pics?) it itself could be blocked by a little sludge or debris in the crankcase. I also wonder if it makes this engine more reliant on thinner viscosity oils?

it might be a possibility... 

these engines are intended for use 5W~20 or 10W~30 as per the user's manual,

But here, at the caribbean, we prefer 10W~30 for sure...

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This GDi 2.4L in-line four cylinders engine, named "Theta II" from a 2012 USDM Sorento;

features a set that includes the Oil Pump and the Balance shaft on it:



thanks to God, the capless oil pump at the Sorento keeps working Flawlessly

the engine keeps working Noiseless, being used frequently, mainly for long travels, loaded.

Kind Regards.

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I've been facing several huge problems after the loss of my Father.

During march 2020, among other problems, my Mother was left stranded in the middle of Europe because she was about to get the airplane to come back to Honduras, she went to visi my sis who is a Psiquiatric Doctor working there, when suddenly the authorities decided to establish by decree an indefinite quarantine for the SARS 2 coronavirus pandemic; the lock out happened at the ides of march...

We were struggling to find a solution to help her to come back home and to keep her safe... several days passed while we waited, when I had an accident while walking on a Hardware Store's warehouse; I fell from the mezzanine and hit the concrete floor below, with my right side Knee.

Long story short: due to mixed circumstances, we managed to bring mom back to Honduras in a special flight which was going to land in an airport far, far away from home in my country, landing the mere same day when I had a minor intervention on my right knee by an orthopedist, who extracted seven full syringes of synovial fluid, and I just got out from his clinic to drive 1,200 kilometers non-stop on this modified (capless) Sorento, to pick up my mother and her huge luggage from the airport.

To drive legally during quarantine times, here in Honduras, you must had a written permit from the police, so the roads felt brutally empty, giving an apocalyptic feeling of loneliness... which allowed me to go full throttle between stalls of control, located at the entrance and exit of each city on the highway; as there were no traffic at all, except for one patrol or one ambulance showing randomly.

Prior to start the round trip to pick up my mother, I swtched off the Eco mode, the Kia Sorento raced pretty well, highways were almost alone, empty during these quarantine times, so I kept it between 80 MPH and 100 MPH sustained nonstop speeds going down and up hills, drove all day and night long, and the Sorento almost Flew like an airplane on the road, while the Capless oil pump let the engine runs smoother than ever, noticeably even at idle speeds.

I only shut off the engine for half hour, because I reached the airport when my mom's plane already had landed, she was waiting for her luggage; I disinfected every luggage with a can of Lysol, prior to place 'em inside the Sorento's trunk; then after half hour, restarted the car and we traveled together back home, without any problems, thanks to God; we followed all the bio safety regulations, and stayed locked at home for fifteen days, due to legal quarantine times' regulations.

Everything went right healthy wise, except for my right knee, who decided to fail ... the pain was deep and terrible, just felt like an endodontic on my knee.

I miss the times when my knees were known as the "Left" and "Right" and now they're the "Good" and the "Bad" ... I am getting better slowly from this nightmare that left me in bed with deep pain for weeks... I needed two more interventions in the following months to get better, and is Feeling much better now, thanks to God, however I can not kneel down anymore on that knee, as I broke its protective capsule... which limits me on my repairs on cars.

I only missed the stability of my Subaru Loyale "BumbleBeast" on Highways, even my wife's kia Sephia "KiaStein" feels better in stability than the Sorento, but this is a much taller car, not much longer as it only measures ~ four inches longer than the Sephia, but the Sorento is wider.

Here's a pretty short video, I was driving during that night on the Sorento, subject of this thread... slowed down the speed of the car to record this footage.

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Back then in 2015 when my Father wanted to obtain a newer vehicle, he was about to purchase this Sorento and I tried to convince him to chose other SUV brand and model (as that was what he wanted), but he found this one online, with a rear crash on a side, and he found it cheap; so the story begun with me, making a facepalm right after he won the auction...

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Long Story Short, I helped him to Repair it the best I could, straightened the metal sheet, removed and trashed the old bumper cover and obtained another one, brand new at the Local Kia Dealer, surprisingly there was cheaper than buying an used one at local junk yards; sometimes strange things like this, happens. Then coated it with fresh paint, and "Voilá" it wasn't as hard as I thought...




...the hardest part were to straighten the rear wheels' alignment, as the rear corner hit, had moved the U-joint and moved the trail arms out of specs, the rear tyres were a little twisted towards the center of the car and one tyre was skimmimng one of the rear Brake flexible lines.

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installed the Rear Reflectors for the Rear bumper:



The Slim ones, for the 2012 Sorento, whose part numbers are:

Left side:    92405 1U200

Right side:  92406 1U200


The third one below in the Photo, is the lone Survivor from the Old Bumper.

Edited by Loyale 2.7 Turbo
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Regarding the Exhaust system, sadly in Honduras the government has returned to import Leaded gasolines, despite of having signed an international agreement since 1993 so, any kind of Catalytic Converter gets poisoned with Lead  -and other corrupt chemicals being added to local gasolines-  clogging those catalytics and giving tons of headaches and problems related, going from poisonous smelly fumes to hot working engines consuming much more fuel than needed, fouling sparkplugs.

So, local mechanics and exhaust shops, simple removes catalytic converters as maintenance routine. As the exhaust system was already half destroyed when the car arrived, I removed Both catalytics too.


The first one or "Pre Cat" is located on the mere Exhaust manyfold, in a Bottle shaped can,

I removed the exhaust manyfold and gutted the catalytic converter out of it, see:



...Then Cleansed it carefully...



...prior to reinstall it, then I removed the second catalytic from the Exhaust pipe by cutting it off and...


...installed a free flowing Resonator on its place, to calm down the high pitch exhaust notes,

Finally, I decided to use the car's Original Huge Resonator in place of the Destroyed Muffler:



...with a fresh chromed tip pointing down, and "Voilá:) 

You gotta Love the Deep but Quiet tone of these engine.

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Something that I dislike of these engines, is that the users manual states that every oil change,

requires a change on the crush washer for the draining plug as well...





...as it is not easy to obtain locally, I substituted the need of new washers, with a thin smear of silicone on it, every oil change.

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Different Headlamps Bulbs.

The Passenger's side corner Headlamp, came with a burnt bulb on the Low beam,

as far as I know; the bulb itself is an H11 shown below:



The problem is that the LADM (Latin American Domestic Market) Specs' Sorento from the same year / model, has the same Headlamps, but designed to use another Kind of Halogen Bulbs, known as H7 so, the Kia Dealer's countertop sales person said that the H11 is only used on the Fog lights, at the Bumper only; and they showed said H11 bulbs to me, but were rated at 35 Watts only, while the ones for the Headlamps that came on the car, were rated as 55 Watts.

So, I needed to search among the aftermarket stores... at first I purchased a new Flösser Halogen bulb:



Which literally "Was" my favourite light bulb brand until I purchased this mere one, as it gave me numerous headaches, because it came bad from factory, everything looked normal by eyesight: the coil resistor inside the glass, the mere glass itself, etc... and because it didn't lighted up, just like the old removed one; it misleaded to me to think that the problem were among the vehicle's wiring, relay and / or fuses; so, I ended wasting too much time, spent on verifying everything said, learning where the parts are located, doing different tests and since everything was completely allright, I swapped sides with the other old Halogen bulb that was working on the other corner, and "Voilá", the thing lit up shiny as it should... 


...so I definitively had to return this f%&king bulb to the Store and decided to obtain a Pair of "Beru" brand ones, also made in Germany.


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This SUV has poor road illumination for long travels by night times, as you can see on the video that I shared with you, some posts above; despite of having all the four Halogens working as they should, the illumination is good for city driving only, not enough for dark highways like the ones in Honduras.

So, during that long travel to pick up mom, I decided to upgrade the illumination on this Sorento, in order to improve visibility without blinding incoming traffic, while keeping things as simple as I could; so, after some research among multiple sources, comparisons, etc... I decided to Upgrade the High Beams only, as they are the only ones that needs to reach farer, in order to improve safety; everything else is alright as is.

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I chose this FAHREN brand, LED retrofitting Kit:



These LED lamps are equal in long size than regular halogens, so the dust cap on the Headlamp assembly, fits;

also these LEDs have their light points on exactly the same placement than the Halogens, ensuring the same beam pattern.




The removed Halogen for the High Beams, had this style plug:



This bulb is known as H1 U and I had to change the Plugs on the Sorento's Wiring to fit properly the New LED lamps:




I used my soldering gun and isolating tape to ensure that the new plugs will be as safe as the factory ones.




Results are Beyond Awesome, High Beam now really are three times brighter and reaches three times farer than with the factory halogens;

making night time travels to be safer for sure.  Kind Regards.

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Improving the Ride Feeling.


My Mother who is an elder woman, is the one that uses this Sorento mostly; she is Short and feels that the car is too tall for her, but her main complain about this model is that she feels the ride too hard, in fact it is extremly harsh; there's something wrong with Kia's choice of coil springs on these models for sure, as this is a widely known complain regarding this model.

Besides that, the all-terrain 235/65 R 17" tyres aren't helping to get a confortable ride, because they add a humming vibration noise, caused by the tyres' design of square shaped lumps. Furthermore, we all feel the center of gravity too tall for the car, giving an unconfident feeling during panic steer, which is pretty common in the Honduran driving habits, due to our average pothole plenty roads and douchebag habits from various drivers to avoid, per trip.

I had to do something to improve the ride, while keeping the low budget and trying to avoid modifying the vehicle; so, the only idea that I could think of, in order to getting a lower center of gravity and thus improving stability; also gaining a lower, smoother ride, was to replace the tall, hard all-terrain tyres, with smooth highway tyres in a smaller size.

Just by changing the 235/65 R17" AT tyres with a brand new set of 235/55 R17" GT Tires, I lowered the Sorento more than two inches :o No matter what online tyre size calculators' says: there is a big Difference, just by Changing the profile from 65 to 55 while keeping the 235 wide size, makes the new tyres to be wider than the old ones were, but still fits adequate on the stock rims.

Now despite that the Speedometer reads faster speeds than the actual sorento speeds, the whole feeling and Behaviour of this car, has changed for good beyond expectations, somehow. Let me elaborate: Now the car looks a little fun with the wide and small diameter tyres, but it drives like glued to the pavement under emergency steers and maneuvers, no more exagerated inclinations nor slipping, it feels and drives like a fat Sports Sedan, rather than a SUV.

But C'mon, in fact this thing is designed like a smaller Sedan / Wagon: Front wheel Drive, Traverse 4 cylinders Engine and unibody construction with independent suspension, is like having a Wagon on Stereoids, not a SUV nor a minivan in disguise, as some people might think.

Keeping the tyres pressure under 30 PSi helps to smooth the ride too. This simply tyre change has helped a Lot to improve the overall vehicle's Feeling; and still the oil pan keeps a safe distance to the ground.

My mother really Loves the new feeling that the new tyre size and shape gave to the Sorento, no more humming vibration and no more scary feeling under avoiding-a-pothole or avoiding-an-ásshole maneuvers.

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