We purchased a 2004 KIA Pregio Campervan on April 7, 2016 in Melbourne, Victoria. The previous owners named it “Chookie”. We changed her name to “Spotto” after the game (you can Google it). Since Spotto is brilliant yellow, she appeared to be quite clean. It was a deception. As the song goes, “we were blinded by the light”. After we took ownership and were able to look at her closely, we realized that she was very, very dirty. So, it was off to the car wash for three hours of scrubbing. We were even warned by the car wash owner that we were not supposed to hand wash our vehicle. Alas – she took pity on us and let us continue to hand wash when she saw all the dirt we were scrubbing away. Or, was she just happy that we kept putting dollars in the machine to power wash the van 7 times between hand scrubbing? Whatever the case we “gott’er done”. Next, we hit the vacuum station and sucked out a few kilos of dust and stuff. Spotto was beginning to look a bit better.
We got her home and I began to apply “Nu Finish” liquid car polish. If you apply it carefully it will clean and polish all at once. It’s not really a wax but it works like wax. I’ve been using it for several years and really like the results. Spotto was looking great now. Any water that touches her paint just beads right up.
To finish up with the exterior I still had some fine tuning to do. I purchased a small can for high gloss black paint and painted the rear bumper bar. It was crusty and rusted even if I can’t figure out what it’s purpose is. The high gloss paint worked wonders. I also did some touch up on the front bumper where some wires rubbed the black paint off. Finally I scraped off the company logo sticker on the “Roo” Bar. I hate stickers.
Next, it was on to the interior. The inside really was filthy. Again, a cursory look and you would think it just fine. A closer look turns up dust, grime, stains and muck. The worst was the driver’s seatbelt. It was supposed to be silver but it was brown. It also weighed about 2 kilos – seatbelts don’t weigh anything, what’s up with that? My first inclination was to order a new one. When I checked the cost I changed my mind and decided to tackle cleaning it some how. I tried several cleaners and nothing worked. I went to an auto parts store and bought a cleaner they said cleans everything (like Totally Awesome). It was called “Disol”. It didn’t work. I was about to give up when Nancy said, “try a degreaser”. So we bought some degreaser at the local home store and Nancy went to work on that belt. It’s now just about the cleanest thing in the van!
I started with the front driver door and just soaked everything in the cab with cleaner and scrubbed and scrubbed. Most of the grime came out. The seats were a mess so we decided just to buy some cheap “one size fits all” seat covers. Unfortunately the passenger seat is a dual person bench so only the seat back portion of the cover fit. I cut it away and then cut the bottom cover so it would at least cover the passenger’s butt.
There are some switches on the dashboard and some lights I’m not sure what the heck they are for. I couldn’t find any explanation online, nor could I find an owner’s manual. One dial I figured out increases/decreases the engine idle speed (handy). There are all kinds of symbols that light up when I start the van. Oh, about starting the van – before I can start it I need to press the “Immobilizer” button on the fob (this is a thing that all cars registered in the state of Western Australia need to have). I then have about five seconds to turn the key just far enough until the dash lights come on. Then I have to wait (sometimes up to five seconds) for this one particular light to go off. Then I can turn the key to start the van. The previous owner explained to me that since it was a diesel it had “glow plugs” instead of spark plugs. Before you turned the key in the ignition the “glow plugs” had to warm up. Well, okay. I just know that if I wait too long, then I have to start the whole stupid process over by pressing the button on the “immobilizer”. Yes, this is all really odd but then heck, they drive on the freaking left side of the road here so why the heck can’t they have an “immobilizer” and a car you can’t just turn the key to start. The emblem of the light that I need to wait for kind of looks like a rams head with the curled horns. What this has to do with “glow plugs” I’ll never know.
There is one more switch I can’t wait to use. If you noticed in the pictures the van has this huge aluminum pipe thing going on in the front of the van. That’s what’s called the “Roo” bar. No one has told me exactly why it’s called a “Roo” bar but I suspect it’s for when those fuzzy guys bounce out to try and meet Spotto while she’s going 100 kph down the highway. It will keep the windshield and Spotto’s occupants clean. Anyway, attached to the “Roo” bar is this big, hunking spotlight. Again, although I see them on lots of vans I really don’t know it’s purpose unless it’s used to really piss-off some oncoming driver by flicking it on just as they get to you. Or maybe it’s the ultimate revenge for the driver coming at you with their high beams on. “Here you go buddy – you think your high beams are bad take a look at this!”
Now that the inside and outside was relatively clean, we switched our focus to the mechanical aspects and to the interior living quarters. The first thing I did was to check all the fluid levels. Then I checked those filters that I could – air filter and cabin filter. The air filter was dirty so I replaced it. The cabin filter had completely disintegrated. Finding a replacement was a challenge and even after contacting the KIA dealer I was out of luck. It was time to think outside the box. I still had the plastic frame of the filter which was grid like . I just didn’t have the filter material which used to be between the grids. It was off to the hardware store. We found a “Bunnings” which is the Australian version of “Home Depot”. I tried to think of what I could use as filter material. Something that was thin enough that I could cut to the right size. The first thing I thought of was furnace filter material. I went right up to an older gentleman worker and asked where the furnace filters were. I instantly knew something was wrong when his eyes bugged out and he took a step backwards and reiterated my words, “furnace filters”? He then asked, “what are you doing with a furnace”? I asked “what do you mean”? He said, “furnaces are only used to cremate people”. “Was I going to cremate someone”? I said, “no I wasn’t cremating anyone – I just want to know where the furnace filters are”. I asked him, “don’t people have furnaces in their houses for heating”?. “Furnaces are only at Crematories” he said. I could tell this conversation wasn’t going well. I then explained what I was looking for and he said, “there is nothing like that in this store”. Ok, this is a store the size of Home Depot with all of it’s thousands of products. There has to be something I can use for a filter material. I obviously freaked out this gentleman and he just wanted me gone. So – I moved on and finally settled for some synthetic steal wool that was thin enough to cut and stiff enough to stay upright in the filter opening. As I learned later – this did not work very well. I will have to come up with another solution.
I called the KIA dealer to make an appointment for oil, oil filter and fuel filter change. I also wanted a general check over of everything. They quoted me a ridiculous price of $440.00. Wow, I knew some things were expensive in AU but that was too much. I didn’t make the appointment. I stopped in a local Kmart auto service center where they mostly do new tires but also general auto servicing. I realized Spotto didn’t need to have her fuel filter changed – just oil and oil filter and the general going over. They quoted me $160 AUD. That was more reasonable. I had the work done and they said everything checked out except she needed a couple taillight bulbs and new windshield wiper blades. I said, “go for it”. The total bill was $206 AUD and she was basically good to go. There was one final mechanical thing I wanted to check before we headed to the interior bush – that was the air conditioning. I made an appointment with a radiator place that the mechanic at Kmart recommended.
The next morning at the radiator shop they took a look at the A/C. They said it was bad. To get it to work they would need to replace the A/C radiator (fins were all bent), the compressor and possibly the A/C control panel. The guy said it would probably cost more than the van was worth. He suggested one of those 12 volt fans for the cab. I asked him how much I owed him for spending the hour and a half and he said, “just take it and have a great holiday”. I thanked him profusely.
Finally we did a bit of shopping and picked up an emergency porta-potty (it looks a little like this “Luggable Loo” ) and a few odds and ends for the kitchen. “Spotto” was now ready to “road trip”.
And that is the clean scoop on Spotto!