This article relates to the second generation of Kia Carnival which was released between 2006 and 2014. Through the years of 2007 and 2013 the Carnival was the top selling people mover in Australia.
The vehicle came with a variety of different engine sizes, diesel and petrol and both manual and automatic. The long and the short of it all is, mechanically these cars are exceptional. The first generation was a little troublesome with some common piston ring faults but the second generation is almost faultless.
There are a few things to watch out for if you are looking to purchase second generation Kia Carnival. The first is the obvious dimensions of the thing. They are considerably longer than most vehicles in the SUV and people mover market. Most people adjust to this rather easily however they are also about three inches wider than its predecessor as well as many other people covered on the market. Jumping out of a Toyota Tarago or Honda Odyssey and into one of these may not be a smooth a transition as you first expected. Many new owners report having difficulties parking the Carnival due to the extra width. Be sure when you test drive one to take it to a car park and give it a shot at parking it. Then ask yourself if you could do it under pressure. Could you still do this when the carpark is full of abandoned shopping trolleys, the back seat is full of poorly disciplined, screaming infants and a senior citizen is beeping at you because he feels the three and half metres you still have before hitting his car is far to close.
As previously stated there is very little in the common faults for these cars, mechanically they are very sound and thats why Kia backed them with a seven year warranty. We are seeing several of these coming through the shop these days and they only thing they really need is a decent major service (something capped price serving totally throws to the wind)
You can read more about this here.
Why capped price servicing is costing you a fortune.
They are known for chewing through tyres and breaks a little prematurely due to the extra weight of the vehicle. Additionally the weight does contribute to a brake shudder fault we have frequently seen with our Kia Carnival owners. Coming down Mona Vale Road or Beacon Hill Road in a automatic with your foot on the brake the whole way can cause the rotors to overheat and warp. This is avoidable if you use engine braking but most people just cook the brakes and replace them every second service.
The other component to watch for if buying one of these secondhand is the service history of the vehicle. The Kia Carnival is very forgiving to owners who neglect them, for a short period of time. The V6 engine is known to sludge up giving oil pressure problems if the oil changes have been skipped. Likewise with transmission faults, frequent automatic transmission oil changes are advised. The car will forgive you if you skip a few but in a few cases transmission overhauls were required in totally avoidable circumstances caused by lack of routine maintenance.
Spark plug replacement is also something often skipped on the V6 engines due to the need to spend extra coin to remove the inlet manifold. If you are buying one that is close to 100,000kms assume this task has not been done and allow a few hundred dollars to get it done straight away.
The Carnival is a fantastic car, its hardly a head turner in traffic but its exception if you have need for an eight seater without buying yourself a school bus. If you have no need for the seats or need to do that weekend trip to Bunnings, this vehicle is exceptional. With all the seats folded down, you almost have yourself a long wheel base tradesman van.
In summary we highly advise these vehicles, however history states most that are for sale are coming off capped price service plans and are mechanically in the same condition as a three day old tuna sandwich. Capped price servicing is a cash grab by the dealers and as result these vehicles need a huge about of basic service task carried out to get them up to scratch. Once thats done they are brilliant. If you about to buy one, be prepared to put a grand or two into filters, spark plugs and all fluids. Then drive off confidently knowing you have an exceptional vehicle.