I never thought I’d say these words: I now own a 2003 Kia Rio. And my god is it a gigantic pile of garbage that I will thoroughly enjoy destroying in an upcoming video series. But first, the thing has to somehow survive winter-beater duty.

I initially bought my $1 Oldsmobile Alero because I needed a vehicle to star in an upcoming video series that I’m working on with Jason Torchinsky. Since that show will require its automotive star to make the ultimate sacrifice, I decided that using the 2001 Alero—which I was able to get into damn good condition after a few trips to the junkyard—just wouldn’t be right. No point in ruining a perfectly good-ish automobile.

But there is a point in ruining a perfectly bad automobile, and on that front, my new Rio is the optimal specimen. That’s why I decied to trade my Alero for it (and $250 in cash to cover some of the parts I put into the trusty Olds). Just look at this pile of beetle dung:

My landlord crashed this Rio into the back of an SUV a few months ago after falling asleep at the wheel. He bought the car brand new about 15 years ago, and though it only has about 100,000 miles on the odometer, Michigan winters haven’t been so nice to the bodywork.

You know what else wasn’t nice to the bodywork? The ass-end of that SUV. You can actually see a hole in the front bumper where the SUV’s tailpipe acted as a hollow punch. The hood is wrecked, the fender is bent, the headlight is bashed out, and the entire radiator support is pushed back. Here’s a photo I took a few weeks back:

I only mention when I took that photo because it seems that I’m no longer able to crack open the hood. That’s a little worrisome, since I have to drive this crap-can 700 miles from Michigan to North Carolina at some point, and there are a few items under there that I’m a bit concerned about, namely that radiator hose that’s all scrunched up, the radiator itself and the cooling fans (though in steady-state highway driving, the latter shouldn’t be an issue). I also wouldn’t mind changing or checking the fluids.

The good news is that this baby runs pretty well:

The body damage isn’t the Kia’s only problem; the driver’s door lock fell into the door, the interior is horrid (to be fair, it was horrid from the factory), and there’s a strange shake in the steering wheel that I’m not sure I’m going to want to deal with for 700 miles.

Sadly, there’s a good chance that, prior to the video series, this little Kia is going to end up as my winter beater, since my $600 Jeep Cherokee decided to shit the bed and not be the champion it once was (I’m bitter about this).


Driving this bargain-basement econobox all winter is going to be torture, but that agony will pale in comparison to what Jason and I have in store for this little shitbox. That is, unless I fall in love with the little Korean like I tend to with vehicles that actually, you know, work.

But surely that’s not possible with a totaled Kia Rio...