Ask Nathan: 3D Printed Cars, Should I Get Used Kia Soul X-Line and Buying a Flooded Car?

I have a personal story to share on buying a submerged car

XEV Yoyo electric car.

In this week’s Ask Nathan:

  • Can we build 3-D printed cars?
  • 2020 Kia Soul X-Line
  • Buying a car that was submerged in a natural disaster

The first question comes from a fan who wants to know about the potential for 3-D printed cars.

Q: (Via: Hello Nathan, I was wondering if you knew anything about the future of 3-D printed cars. 

It makes sense to me that there is a lot of potential for 3-D printed cars in our future. I’ve heard of some companies printing components, but I don’t know if they’re able to print an entire car from the ground up. Do you think it’s possible? 

It would be really cool if we were able to walk into a 3-D printed car dealership and program all of the year things we want to add to a custom built vehicle. 

Now that everybody is switching to electrified vehicles, doesn’t it make sense that the skateboard platform could go underneath these 3-D printed cars? It would be cool if you could go to a Center, and program your order while watching it being built. Kind of like a vending machine that you can program. You start with nothing, and come out with a car that meets all of your specifications. I think it would be the wave of the future.

What do you think?

– Meera

A: The future is here and 3-D printed cars are in production! Kind of…

There are a few companies that are (or soon will) sell 3-D printed cars. The XEV YOYO is an Italian.Chinese electric vehicle that it built using 3-D technology. Prices are reported to start at $15,500. It is a city car with a range of about 90-miles using a 10.3 kWh battery. While a majority of its internal and external components are 3-D printed, the tires, glass, battery and motor are among many components that are built separately.

Their website indicates that they are working on possibly selling in North America, along with just about every other continent as well.

In fact, as of right now, I cannot find a vehicle built for public consumption that is entirely 3-D printed. With that being said, there are a ton of things 3-D printing is revolutionizing in the automotive world. One thing that got me excited was a story I read about an old vehicle that had 3-D printed parts made for it, so it could be properly restored. This could mean that hard-to-get components for older cars can be re-created in a jiffy.

It’s my personal opinion that 3-D printing has to come a long way to challenge the speed and cost savings of an automated manufacturing facility. Still, if you combine the two, there is a potential for greater speed, lower costs and more personalization with future automobiles. We’ll see how that works out in the near future!

– N

The next question comes from a fan who is thinking about buying a 2020 Kia Soul X-Line.

Q: (Via: Twitter@Nathan Adlen) Boychik! I love your videos and one of them inspired me to look at a 2020 Kia Soul X-Line.

This will replace my beloved 2012 Kia Soul which has 238,000 miles on the odometer and it still runs strong. I think it’s time for something newer with less miles. My 2012 Kia has been the most reliable car I ever owned and I’m probably older than you. I’ve owned dozens of cars and even more if you think about my family’s cars.

I like the look and design of the X-Line and I thought it might be a good buy.

– SunnyNight64

This is the 2020 Kia Soul X-Type — and it’s gone for 2023. (Photo: TFLcar)

A: You made a great choice, and I’m glad to hear about your positive experience with your old Soul.

The 2020 Kia Soul X-Line is a trim that’s no longer being offered. Essentially, it’s a trim package that gives you a few goodies to make the vehicle look more off-road capable. It isn’t, but that’s not to say it’s a bad vehicle. I had the opportunity to play with one on a variety of surfaces, and weather conditions. While it lacks from frills, it makes it up for it with efficient capability, and utility.

I am always pleased with the comfort and space of a Soul, and I feel they are still bargains for what you get. Even the base model is damn good, for a simple runabout.

If you’re looking for a little more fun, you get a LOT more power out of a 2020 Kia Soul GT-Line. It’s turbocharged, and it’s a hoot to drive. There’s more standard equipment as well.

Right now, the X-Line your looking at has pricing numbers that bounce from $19,000 – $23,000. Those prices seem to fluctuate based on content and mileage. If you opt for the GT-Line, prices are about $3,000 – $7,000 more. Just remember this: the vehicle’s 10-year/100,000-mile limited powertrain warranty switches to a 5-year/60,000-mile limited powertrain warranty for the second owner.

Best of luck!

– N

The last question is more of a commentary from me based on current events – like Hurricane Ian. Should you buy a car that was under water – I mean, actually under water?

Q: After a major hurricane, or natural disaster, is it a bad idea to buy a vehicle that has water damage?

– From me, to you…

A: I would say that 99-percent of the time, the answer is NO; do NOT buy a car that’s been submerged.

Usually, cars that have been involved in floods are listed with a salvage/flood title, or are deemed inoperable and sent to a wrecking yard. That’s because almost every component of a vehicle can be affected by water. Sure, most cars have waterproofing that makes many components water resistant, but left in deep water, these cars become a massive hazard.

Never mind the drivetrain being ruined by water – think about the electrical and structural integrity. Long-term corrosion of safety components (think: airbags) are just the beginning.

Sometimes, cars fall through the cracks. Many cars can actually run and drive after being submerged. Problems may, or may not show up afterwards. If that vehicle’s owner manages to get around the insurance companies and law enforcement, they can move the vehicle somewhere else and sell it. There are other ways flooded vehicles can reemerge as drivers, and I recommend this article for great tips.

The bottom line is – it pays to do your research.

Personal story: and a cautionary tale.

In late 2006, I needed a family car rapidly. Babies were coming, and I found myself to be a family-man, overnight. I didn’t want an SUV (already had one), nor a minivan. I needed something that could hold baby stuff. You know, strollers and whatnot. I had a tiny budget as my wife and I just bought a new home. After looking around for a while, I came upon a Saturn LW200 wagon. It had the four-cylinder engine and a five-speed manual. I knew through experience that the four-banger was similar to the engine GM used in certain Saabs. I figured it would do the trick until I could scrape together finances to buy the wife a new car.

The price was amazingly good, and it ran like brand new. Despite being a 2001 model, it only had 30,000 miles on it.

In knew Saturn cars were built to a price, but they were sturdy and simple. All-in all, I was pleased with my purchase. After a few modifications, it became a fun(ish) car to drive and was remarkably efficient. For six months, it was a lifesaver.

One day, things began to sprout up. There were times when the instrument panel would die. The rear taillights completely shorted out. Warning lights would sporadically pop on and off. Finally, I caught wind of a burning electrical smell, which I never found.

Fortunately, it was the impetus needed for me to pull components, and the carpet to figure things out.

Image: GM

I felt like an idiot, and I was grateful my luck held out…

The upper section of the carpet looked almost new. Once I peeled it up, I knew I screwed up. Tons of fine sand and sediment cacked the floor. Wires were covered in mildew, and some were exposed. The more I looked, the more obvious water damage I found. Despite NOT being a salvage title, it was obvious that it was submerged.

After some digging, I found out that this car, which was sold in Texas, went to New Orleans about a year before Hurricane Katrina. It was right there, in the CARFAX. I just didn’t pay attention to the service history, like I should of.

After a few phone calls, I sent the car to a dealer/dismantler who listed the car as “salvaged.”

I got lucky, and learned a huge lesson. Over the next few years, if you’re looking at a used vehicle. Make sure to do your due diligence. Keep an eye out for “lost” registrations. If it comes from an area that had a flood of some sort – double check the car wasn’t submerged. Please.

– N

Speaking of old cars…