Here are the Kia Optima years to avoid (2023)

Kia Optimaby Milhouse35 —CC-BY-SA-4.0

The Kia Optima is a five-seater mid-size sedan that competes with the Honda Accord, Toyota Camry and Nissan Altima. The Kia Optima is a spacious mid-size sedan with easy-to-use controls and a long list of active safety systems. While popular, the Optima does have some issues and some specific years to look out for. Here are the Kia Optima years to avoid.

Short answer: 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015

When it comes to car brands, many seem to have at least one model that turns out to be a complete dud, and Kia's Optima is one of them. Although later model years have fewer complaints, it turns out that the five-year span between 2011 and 2015 were Kia Optima years to avoid and give a second look to if you're interested in buying one.

While it's a great overall design, sells well, and is an affordable option, the Optima's many mechanical issues don't make it one of the most reliable options out there. It doesn't get bad reviews for either its lack of modern equipment or its high entry price, but it does have major mechanical issues in both used and new models.

The Kia Optima was designed as an affordable sedan for the average consumer, but a lack of reliability outweighed its affordability. Priced between $20,000 and $30,000 for most standard models, the Optima is a modest base vehicle with a few flaws that increase maintenance costs.


(Video) Here's Why Kias are Crap

CoPilot will search your area and let you know if there's a better deal for a similar vehicle nearby, so you're always confident you've got the best deal possible. TheCoPilot-Appis the smartest way to buy a car.

Kia Optima years to avoid: 2011

Engine failure is the most common problem on the 2011 Kia Optima, with an average repair cost of over $4,5000 and often less than 100,000 miles when the problem occurs. Based on statistics collected on complaints about the Kia Optima over its lifetime, 2011 was the worst year on record for the Kia Optima. There were enough issues and consumer pressure with widespread criticism that a class action lawsuit was filed against Kia. Finally, the automaker recalled the 2011-2014 Optimas with 2.0-liter and 2.4-liter four-cylinder engines, among others.

What started out as a cheap vehicle quickly piled up on repair expenses. The worst and most common mechanic problem of 2011 was a total engine write-off. That's something you'd expect from a 300,000-mile Honda Accord, but it's something you wouldn't want to inflict on a newer Kia. After many instances of the engine seizing while driving, leaving drivers and their families stranded on the side of the road, Kia issued several recalls. If Kia hadn't performed these recalls, consumers would have had to pay hundreds of dollars to have the entire engine repaired or buy a new car.

The 2011 model wasn't the only one to experience costly engine problems. Even cars with less than 75,000 miles experienced catastrophic engine failure in 2013. The problem was so severe and expensive to fix that it ruined the project.

Common issues for the 2011 model year:

  • problems with the steering
  • Fuel system problems
  • Interior not working properly
  • electrical problems
  • Brakes that don't work
  • body aches and pains

Most of the difficulties that were present in previous years began to fade in 2016, with nearly all concerns resolved by the 2017 model year. Since the Kia Optima is only available for used or partially used options, there are the best 2017 through 2020 model years to choose from, and they're relatively affordable.

(Video) No One is Telling You the Truth About Hyundai and Kia, So I Have to


You won't realize how outdated other auto search apps are until you try this oneCoPilot car shopping app. CoPilot does the hard work for you, searching all the deals in your area and intelligently creating a personalized list of the best local shops that match your ideas.

Kia Optima years to avoid: 2013 & 2014

The 2013-2014 model year for the Kia Optima with 2.4-liter four-cylinder and 2.0-liter turbo-four engines was the subject of a recall. Low-pressure gasoline lines in the engines occasionally caused ruptures and leaks, creating a significant fire hazard. It was unclear what was causing the cracking, but heat from the engine compartment appears to be the main problem and affected a small but significant number of Kia's.

Common issues for the 2013 and 2014 model years:

  • engine calls back
  • fire hazard
  • Expensive maintenance costs

Kia Optima years to avoid: 2015

Engine trouble was still being reported in certain 2015 Optimas, according to CarComplaints. There were many similar issues between 2012 and 2015, with an average of 500-1000 complaints being filed over the four years. The 2015 model had the most problems on the freeway, with the engines frequently stalling. It even happened that several vehicles caught fire, which posed a danger to drivers, passengers and other pedestrians.

Common issues for the 2015 model year:

(Video) Here's Why Kias are Crap

  • Total engine failure and poor performance
  • fire hazards

The 2016 Optima was facelifted and while it had fewer complaints than previous model years, it did have several flaws. Some 2.4 liter vehicles had to be recalled because of cracked front driveshafts. Some owners have also reported window regulator failure; However, according to CarComplaints, this seems to be an uncommon problem. Finally, according to Consumer Reports, it has been reported that cars with sunroofs struggle when their sunroofs won't close, the rails warp, or they simply rattle due to old seals.

Common issues for the 2016 model year:

  • Sunroof failure
  • window regulation
  • Poor seal insulation

Kia Optima recalls by year

  • 0 in 2000
  • 3 in 2001
  • 3 in 2002
  • 2 in 2003
  • 1 in 2004
  • 0 in 2005
  • 2 in 2006
  • 2 in 2007
  • 3 in 2008
  • 1 in 2009
  • 1 in 2010
  • 4 in 2011
  • 3 in 2012
  • 5 in 2013
  • 4 in 2014
  • 2 in 2015
  • 4 in 2016
  • 2 in 2017
  • 1 in 2018
  • 1 in 2019
  • 0 in 2020

Most consistent recalls occurred in the five years from 2011 to 2015. The older you get, the more likely you'll encounter common problems, but these five have been consistent in terms of repair and maintenance needs.


Whether you're squeezing in a tight campus parking lot or lugging ten loads of laundry home, theseThe best cars for studentswill get you, your friends, and your belongings wherever you go.

What are the good Kia Optima model years?

There are basically no difficulties with the Optimas 2017-2019. With a redesign planned for the 2021 model year, they will undoubtedly be available at a discount shortly. However, none of the problems in the 2016 Optima are necessarily a deal-breaker if the recall work has been completed correctly.

(Video) 10 Used-Cars to AVOID for BAD Engine - as per Consumer Reports

Like most other strong vehicle years, the top Optimas of 2017 and 2018 were recalled, only the hybrid versions. A software issue with the front collision warning systems has also led to the recall of some 2019 models. The 2019 Kia Optima gets the highest CR reliability rating of the group. If you are in the market for a used Optima, one of the latest generation or last five year options is a safe bet.

Common Kia Optima problems

The Kia Optima has relatively high reliability ratings. However, there are some issues that every potential used buyer should be aware of:

  • Outdated transfer software:According to experts, the 2001-2017 Kia Optimas could be struggling with gearbox issues due to an outdated Transmission Control Module (TCM). Affected vehicles may experience excessive judder when downshifting. Kia has released a software update to fix the problem.
  • Defective door locks:Many Optima years have struggled with faulty door latches. Frustrated owners claimed the doors refused to open from the inside and out. This problem reportedly started around 100,000 miles. The proposed solution is to replace the door latch.
  • Problems with a defective motor:Several Optima models were also notorious for their engine problems. According to numerous reports, the engine tends to seize and at times will not start at all. In addition, the engine developed loud knocking noises, which can lead to failure.
  • Weak alternators:Many Kia Optima years have also suffered from weak alternators. They are reportedly having starting problems and low battery charging capabilities with their vehicle. Several owners said they had to lock their vehicles every time because of this problem.

Get a curated list of the best used cars in your area

TheCoPilot car shopping appis the easiest way to buy a car. Tell us what you're looking for and we'll search the inventory of all the car dealerships in your area to give you a personalized list of the best car deals in your area.

Are you only looking for newer models?CoPilot Compare is the search engine for almost new cars. Only see cars five years and older with low mileage - CoPilot Compare is the best way to find no lease, early trade-in and CPO cars.

The best part? CoPilot is based on the same technology dealers use to buy and sell their inventory, so we have more information on each vehicle than the competition. CoPilot doesn't work with dealers, so there are no sponsored posts or other shady practices - just most of the best car info. Check out oursAbout Uspage to see how CoPilot works.


1. Here's Why Kias are Crap
(Scotty Kilmer)
2. Hyundai and Kia Have MAJOR Engine Problems
(ExoticCar PlayPlace)
3. Here's Why Kias are Crap
(Scotty Kilmer)
4. Here’s Why This Kia is the Best Cheap New Car to Buy
(Scotty Kilmer)
5. They Steal Hyundai's and KIA's How? Cops React
(Stolen 911)
6. Here's Why Kias are Crap
(Scotty Kilmer)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Stevie Stamm

Last Updated: 01/06/2023

Views: 6765

Rating: 5 / 5 (80 voted)

Reviews: 95% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Stevie Stamm

Birthday: 1996-06-22

Address: Apt. 419 4200 Sipes Estate, East Delmerview, WY 05617

Phone: +342332224300

Job: Future Advertising Analyst

Hobby: Leather crafting, Puzzles, Leather crafting, scrapbook, Urban exploration, Cabaret, Skateboarding

Introduction: My name is Stevie Stamm, I am a colorful, sparkling, splendid, vast, open, hilarious, tender person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.