The Kia Optima has been in production since 2001. This midsize car is a great choice for consumers looking for space and comfort. The 2020 model is an affordable five-passenger sedan that maneuvers well and is full of safety features.
The older model Kia Optima vehicles don’t seem to be faring as well, particularly the 2011 and 2013 models. There are numerous reports of serious engine failure, resulting in costly repair bills and inconvenience to the owner. There are also several other common complaints about the Kia Optima that shouldn’t be ignored.
Door lock malfunction
The biggest complaint about the Kia Optima is that the door locks malfunction. This may appear to be a minor problem, but it’s something that could present a huge safety issue in the event of an accident. Owners of the Kia Optima have experienced difficulty opening the driver side door from outside the car, regardless of whether they are using the key.
While inside the car, some owners have reported being unable to unlock the doors. The only way they can get out is to roll down the window and open the door from the exterior. Some owners have said they had to crawl out the window to get out of the car. Most of the issues appear to be with the driver’s side door, but there are also reports of the passenger and back doors having issues as well.
The 2011 Kia Optima
The 2011 Kia Optima has a higher-than-normal repair cost. There tends to be an issue with engine failure that occurs when the vehicle nears 100,000 miles. With most warranty coverage plans expired at this point, repair bills average at $5,000.
Drivers report the engine seizing, sometimes while driving on a highway. There seems to be no advanced warning, and consumers that report regularly scheduled maintenance are experiencing the problem. There are numerous complaints about having to get the entire engine replaced, making this an expensive vehicle to maintain.
In extreme cases, the engine failure has caused the vehicle to catch fire, leading to a total loss of the automobile.
The 2013 Kia Optima
Owners of the 2013 Kia Optima seem to have the highest incidence of complaints. There is a consistent problem with engine failure in this particular model. A recall was issued (NHTSA 17V224) to address the issue, but Kia will not authorize service until the engine fails.
Frustrated consumers are left waiting to see if their engine seizes while repeatedly bringing their car back to dealerships to try and get service. Other drivers report having their engines completely stop while driving, creating a serious safety hazard.
A faulty throttle position switch
Kia Optima drivers have an unusually high level of faulty throttle position switches. This mechanism provides information to the electronic control module that correlates to the positioning of the throttle. When the switch is not working correctly, the sensor sends bad data which results in a severe drop in fuel economy.
Drivers of the Kia Optima have discovered this problem when their car starts to jerk and they experience sudden speed acceleration. Others describe the idle acting sporadic along with a flashing check engine light. Replacing the output sensor fixes the problem, with repairs costing several hundred dollars.
Another common problem with the Kia Optima is a bad alternator. Owners report repeated issues with what appears to be a dead battery. They try to turn the vehicle on and get nothing but a clicking noise. Kia is aware of this and is now using a new alternator in its product line to address the concern. Unfortunately, owners of older model Kia Optima vehicles are having to pay for the expense to replace the faulty alternator, which can cost close to $1,000.