Owners of Kia cars bought from the only dealer in Oxfordshire offering the range will not have their warranties honoured by the firm after a row broke out with the manufacturer.

Drivers are being told they must take their cars to the nearest Kia dealership, in Swindon, to have work carried out because Kernahan of Witney is refusing to honour the manufacturer's warranty.

The dealership terminated its Kia franchise, which it had run since 2004, in September and said it decided to stop honouring warranties because of a dispute with the Korean car maker over paying the bills for warranty work Kernahan had carried out.

Kia said it could not comment on details of the dispute as the two companies were in the midst of working to resolve legal action.

The firm, part of the Kia Motors Corporation, said it wanted to assure drivers that warranties - issued as standard for three years on new cars to provide free cover for repairs - were valid at any other authorised Kia dealership. But there are no other appointed Kia dealerships in the county and the closest is in Swindon.

Kernahan managing director Martin Kernahan said: "We have a number of issues with Kia Motors UK, which unfortunately includes their failing to pay bills in a timely manner and in some cases completely failing to pay at all.

"As a result we took the decision last September to terminate the Kia sales franchise, but we continued to support our customers by retaining the after sales element of the franchise, with a view to resolving the outstanding issues.

"Unfortunately, the situation has not improved. We cannot continue to carry out Kia warranty work without being paid, which I think is a reasonable position to take.

"We have made a considerable investment into the Kia franchise and feel let down by their behaviour."

Kia spokesman Sue Cugley said the firm would contact the company, was sorry about what had happened and wanted to assure customers that the warranty on Kia vehicles was valid at any authorised Kia dealership.

She added: "This is an isolated case of a dealership refusing to carry out warranty work.

"We would also like to let you know that we are working hard to appoint another dealer in the Oxford/Witney area."

Kernahan, which was set up more than 40 years ago, was traditionally an MG Rover dealership, but when the firm collapsed last year, it was appointed to sell Ford cars in July, 2005.

Kathleen Lay who has 18 months remaining on her warranty, is among Kia owners who have been told by Kernahan to go elsewhere for warranty work.

Mrs Lay, 70, who lives in Hailey, near Witney, contacted Kernahan because the front passenger door of her Rio car will not open from the outside.

Mrs Turner does voluntary work for elderly people and said it had caused problems getting people into the car.

She said: "I bought the car because it was a local dealer and so I could easily get there if there were any problems.

"I don't want to have to go to Swindon - that's why I bought the car in Witney.

"It doesn't matter if there's a dispute going on, we've paid our money for the cars and should get the service."