Kia Motors Optima

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1.0 out of 5, based on 2 ratings and
11 reviews & complaints.

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Bait and Switch
Posted by on
Rating: 1/51
KEENE, NEW HAMPSHIRE -- I was impressed with the KIA warranty and the 2013 safety reports in the Consumer Digest. During my conversation with the salesman at the Keene, NH KIA I explained that my 2010 Toyota Corolla, though it had under 37,000 miles, its 36,000 mi. warranty had expired and I was interested in looking at a KIA the same size. The salesman said the Forte would be the car for me and he mailed me a Forte several-page brochure. I did not make an appointment, and the salesman phoned me. One of my electric garage doors malfunctioned and landed on my back, and it was a month before I could visit the dealership. I live in VT, and hour's drive from Keene, NH, and after my making an appointment to meet with the salesman, he was able to show me only one Forte, a stripped-down model from the previous year. The Rio was very easy for me to handle, but the ride for long trips would not be smooth, and the cheapest 2012 used F Forte was junk. After having made an appointment and driven an hour, there were NO 2013 Fortes on the lot! There was a big push for me to buy the most plush Optima, and the Optima I now very much regret having purchased. I told the salesman right from the very beginning that I wanted a car the same size as the Toyota Corolla and that I had once owned two Toyota Camrys, but I Switched to the last three Corollas because the Camry is too big. The KIA Optima is a horror for a small woman to have proper back or front vision, the front passenger seat is too low and too far back from the driver's seat; and it doesn't steer nor handle as easily as my 2010 Toyota Corolla. I hate this car; and unfortunately I had a front-end accident with my Corolla just before I closed the Optima deal. The Corolla was safe and it's a much better vehicle for a woman my size. I was told that the KIA company would phone for a three-question survey and there would also be a written survey.

Three days after I purchased the KIA there was a phone survey, probably not more than one minute. I am still waiting for the KIA written survey. I do hope that this supplements the survey I never received.
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ok4now on 03/25/2013:
It sounds like you are a very satisfied Toyota owner and should have stayed with this brand. IMO Toyota is a far better product with better resale value compared to Kia. Bet you won't make this mistake again.
Bill on 03/25/2013:
Don't buy a new car just to get more warranty.
You should still be able to purchase the extended warranty through Toyota since that sounds like why you getting rid of the Toyota. You might have to pay a few dollars more now since you're past the 36,000/3 year limit but not by much.

Don't ditch a perfectly good Toyota for a Kia. You will regret it.
jbutah on 10/07/2013:
While I can't stand pushy car salesmen---any more than the next person--consumers need to know when to walk away if something doesn't feel right, or when a car (or deal) doesn't meet their satisfaction. You can hate your Optima all you wish, but the fact is--you signed on the bottom line. I'm reasonably certain nobody held a gun to your head and forced you to buy that car. Next time you're in the market for a new vehicle, do your research beforehand, take a friend or relative with you to test drive the car, and for goodness sake, don't cave to pushy sales tactics!
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Passenger Airbag System
Posted by on
In 2007 I purchased a new Kia Optima 4cyl automatic from a local dealer. Soon after, I discovered that the passenger airbag light would sometimes remain illuminated when there was a passenger in the seat, meaning that the airbag was off. The dealer said they could not diagnose what was wrong unless the condition was present while they were inspecting the car. When the problem reoccurred with someone in the passenger seat I returned to the dealer with my wife still in the seat while the airbag light was still on. They decided to replace the seat cushion containing the bladder. At first, this seemed to resolve the problem but shortly thereafter the same thing occurred. We also were given the bulletin regarding proper seating posture. Recently, the Kia field service representative inspected the car but concluded that the system was functioning to the manufacturers specifications. The representative also assured me that the passenger airbag would operate in the event of a front end crash, even if the passenger airbag lamp remained illuminated with someone in the seat, but may not deploy to its fullest capacity!!
In my opinion, so long as there is an adult occupant (meaning 95 lbs or greater)in the passenger seat the position of your torso, legs or arms should be irrelevant. The best advice I received was that should the problem reoccur (which it has) pull to the side of the road and turn the ignition off. Have the passenger get out and then back into the passenger seat and then restart the car. This should allow the onboard computer to reset and (hopefully) recognize the presence of a front seat passenger. This has in fact worked but is a risky proposition when traveling on a busy highway. Let's hope Kia's engineers will come up with a solution before someone is injured.
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Anonymous on 07/31/2009:
KIA has issued no service bulletins on this problem, nor are there any recalls related to it. Over at SAFERCAR.GOV there are two complaints very much like yours. Did you write one of those?
Anonymous on 07/31/2009:
It may not be a defect. In some cars, airbags are designed not to deploy if a child is sitting in the seat. It sounds like your wife is petite, she may be borderline as far as triggering the sensor. That might explain why the problem is intermittent. If the system is reacting as though she were a child, and if she is indeed petite, maybe it's not a bad thing to not have the airbag fully deploy in an accident.

Next time you shop, have her hold a bag of groceries in her lap and see if the light goes off. If it doesn't, you probably do have a system problem.
Anonymous on 07/31/2009:
Ken, excellent suggestion.
Anonymous on 07/31/2009:
Thank you Miss M
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Seat Belts Fail in Most Kia's!
Posted by on
Rating: 1/51
FORT WORTH, TEXAS -- I am getting ready to sell my Kia Optima and buy a new car. I have two backseat broken seat belts and a front passenger seat belt that is in the process of breaking. Called to check on recalls. Nothing! Called dealership about repairing the belts. They said it would be in the $1000 to repair. The car is only worth around $4500.

I asked why they didn't stand behind their products and he had no answer. After looking online, I found this was ongoing problem for the 2004 Optima and other Kia years, makes, and models. How do I sell a car that doesn't have working seat belt's? I have owned three Kia's, but when I choose a new car It WILL NOT BE A KIA!! My father has a 35 year old Ford pickup that has perfect, working seat belts!! KIA stand behind your products!!!!!
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FoDaddy19 on 07/10/2013:
I don't think the problem is as widespread as you claim. I just looked at recall notices for 2003,2004, and 2005 Kia Optimas, and there were zero recalls issued for the seat belts. If most of these cars had failure prone seatbelts there would've been a recall on them, as seatbelts are considered a safety issue. TSB's and recalls are different things, recalls are issued when a fault has been discovered that could possible result in someone getting hurt or killed. A TSB is issued when a design fault is noticed that is more of an inconvenience.

As for Kia standing behind their products. It's an 8 year old car, presumably it's out of warranty. I think you're expectations are unrealistic if you expect them to fix it for free.
Missy on 08/23/2013:
I have an 04 Kia with the same problem!
Help! on 08/23/2013:
Submit your claim here! They need to be recalled!
Nick on 11/04/2013:
@FoDaddy19 - It's widespread
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2009 Kia Optima - Passenger Air Bag Light Keeps Coming On Not Working
Posted by on
My Husband bought me a brand new 09 Kia optmia, I have had the car a little over a year now and I have had my shifter cable replaced cause it broke off that was fixed do to a heavy recall but now I have had to have my passenger air bag sensor replaced now cause the sensor keeps going out they tole me not to put any electrical device in the passenger sit cause it gives odd signal and fries the sensor under the passenger set.

I love my car but iam worried my airbag might not work right if I where to get in a crash and have a passenger in the set.
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Alain on 07/15/2011:
If you have doubts about the airbag, take it to the dealer and have them check it.
Liz on 03/28/2014:
I have the same problem with my 09 Optima. The dealership told me that it would be 1500.00 to fix. For a part that's no bigger than a Lego. Ridiculous.
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2004 Kia Optima with bad seat belts
Posted by on
I have a 2004 Kia Optima that I purchased brand new from the dealer. Well, my 7 year old daughter was buckling herself into the back seat of my Kia when the seat belt locked and then pulled out and would not retract itself. At the time I was very angry and figured it was due to some fault of hers. Then about a month later the same thing happened to the other side of the car to the seat belt, locked with no retraction. I am very upset. I contacted the dealer who told me the cost would be beyond my means; a 98.00 and hr. labor charge and parts which would amount to over $300.00. I honestly feel this is a safety issue AND that if I had been involved in an accident and this seat belt had done this and resulted in injury to my child I would have a major lawsuit on my hands. I read a review where another woman had the same problem and I am wondering what are my options. I have been deciding on calling the manufacturer and seeing where I get with that.
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Ytropious on 07/20/2010:
That's really odd. I had the same problem but my car is not a Kia and it's much much older. The belt wouldn't retract so I took it to a dealer and they replaced it for free. I don't know if it was my brand's thing or a government thing, but you should take it somewhere else. Seat belt problems should be free for life.
Missy on 08/23/2013:
My 04 Kia has the same problem.
Help! on 08/23/2013:
Submit your claim here. This company needs to replace these faulty seat belts!
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2004 Kia Optima
Posted by on
ANDERSON, SOUTH CAROLINA -- My daughter has a 2004 Kia Optima. She also has a 2yr old child and a 2 week old child. The seat belts in the back seat of this vehicle are "locked" and pulled all the way out and will not retract. The first call to the dealership resulted in an estimate of $1000.00 for this repair. Next, I took the vehicle to the dealership to see if it possibly has a recall and was told there would be a 79.00 "diagnostic" fee. Lastly, I called my salesperson and she was supposed to check on a recall with the general manager and he was to call me back. I am still waiting. Meanwhile my daughter cannot transport her children safely or at all. These parts are not available in an auto parts store and cannot be found in the junk yard. This is a safety issue and should be repaired at no cost to me. All three seat belts are broken. I cannot believe the absolute disregard for safety that this Kia dealership has. Is anyone else having this problem?
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i_am_canadian on 09/08/2009:
I was told when looking at vehicles that Kia has notoriously bad quality and replacement parts cost a fortune. Plus, the average life span for one of their vehicles is only about 5 years on average. I'm just sorry your daughter found that out too late.
Anonymous on 09/08/2009:
I guess I'm glad I didn't get a Kia when I did my car shopping 2 years ago. It's been Kia complaint day.
Anonymous on 09/08/2009:
Our resident old timer, likes his Kia just fine.
PepperElf on 09/08/2009:
which old timer is that? >:)

but seriously that sucks. How long did she have the car before the belts started acting up? I don't suppose they're covered under the warranty or insurance?
JR in Orlando on 09/08/2009:
What would make you think they had a duty to repair the seat belts for free? Do they repair brakes for free because that involves safety? Sounds to me like some children have been playing with the belts and jerked them out to the limit where they stuck.

I would take it to a local garage and see if they can fiddle with the belts until they retract, or can replace the retractors. Worse comes to worse, you can buy racing harnesses and seat belts for cheaper and have them installed.
jktshff1 on 09/08/2009:
KIA is known for expensive repairs..dealers only.
However the car is 5 yrs old and probably out of warranty.
ya live and learn.
Anonymous on 09/08/2009:
Some manufacturer's warrant the seat belts for a longer period of time, although, if memory serves, it is usually just the seat belt anchors. You may have to do a little research. Search the internet for a Kia forum. You may be able to find something useful there.
Gg on 06/21/2012:
I have a driver seat belt problem. Yes I do think that should be taken car of by Kia. Huyndai does it and that's the "big" sister company to Kia. It is not like brakes it is law to have one on.
Missy on 07/08/2012:
Just experienced the same problems with my Kia. Husband took it apart to see the problem and it's made of plastic!! The center piece that holds the spring to retract the belt broke off!!! NOW WHAT!! I Have small children also...
Help! on 08/23/2013:
Submit your claim here. This really needs to be recalled!
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Warranty on my Transmission
Posted by on
CORINTH -- At 48,000 the transmission started to slip I called a Kia dealer and the car was towed to the dealer ship I was called in a couple of days that the transmission needed to be replaced because the clutch particles were in the pan but it was not under warranty because I failed to have the transmission flushed at 30,000 and that the transmission would have to be sent back and a new one installed the best they would do is to replace the transmission but I would have to pay for the fluid and labor which came to over $700.00 needless to say I was very upset and the dealer told me if I took that attitude they would do nothing for me I asked them why come the trans was not repaired his answer to me was only kia can rebuld we can not even get parts and I called other transmission repair services and I was told the same thing I told them I wanted what they found in writting and I was never given that. I have never been able to get any thing under warranty always has been a reason why it was not under warranty I told them that I would never buy a Kia again and I was told you got to do what ever you got to
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Hugh_Jorgen on 04/28/2008:
Failure to perform the required maintenance will void any auto maker's warranty.

An they are right, more and more parts of cars aren't really "field repairable" anymore - they just swap them out for a rebuilt unit (engine, transmission, etc) and send the old one back to be rebuilt for the next guy.
Suusan B. on 04/28/2008:
Hugh is 100% correct. In order "cash in" on a vehicle warranty, you need to carefully read and understand the agreement and be able to document and prove that you performed all required maintenance.
old fart on 04/28/2008:
I have a 2001 KIA sephia and I have adhered to the warranty program religiously... as a result I have paid not one red cent for repairs...
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Family of four at risk of injury or worse in defective Optima!
Posted by on
OREGON -- Our brand new 2006.5 Kia Optima wouldn't accelerate again, (You press on the gas and it does nothing!) just as we were getting on I-5. It was rainy, hard to see, slick, and you put all those factors on I-5 in Salem, and you've got a potentially bad combination.

This isn't the fist time this has happened, by far, but with the way it was acting, and with the conditions outside, this time I was scared that something bad would happen. I kept imagining a big semi clipping us, or even just hitting us (me, my wife and two little girls) full on.

It was obviously a bad situation, a state trooper stopped to make sure we were okay and that we had help on the way.

The tow truck driver, as well as the sales guys at the dealership all said that there's obviously something wrong, and that Kia needs to "make this right".

So, the car is back in the shop, 5th time now, and we have a 2002 Kia Optima with over 57,000 miles and it drives better than our brand new one.

I want out of this car, and I don't want another Kia. I'm sure this is the one in a thousand cars that'd be bad, and the next one would be fine, but I don't like the way that Kia the manufacturer is treating me. Shows they have no concern for my safety (and my family's) or my satisfaction.

After hearing about our problem my neighbor says he "[doesn't] want to see it in the paper that you and your family was killed because of this stupid car."

Anyway, I don't intend to just let this go for one big reason among many others: They did nothing to fix and/or remedy the situation after it happened the most frequently and severely that it has ever happened. And for that very reason, my wife, Angela and I both feel like we're taking our lives in our hands every single time we put our two little girls in this car.

KIA needs to make this right before we have a headline like this "Family of 4 Dies in Crash Caused by Known Car Problem!" and they have a major lawsuit on their hands from our family.

You can view more on this problem on our blog at:

Thank you!
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Justusryan on 07/07/2007:
My 06 Optima has been awesome, maybe you got a lemon?
Starlord on 07/07/2007:
Sounds to me like accelerator linkage.
firengine103 on 07/08/2007:
Most new cars do not have accelerator linkage as older cars do. It's now electronic with no direct "hard" connection
natkar06 on 07/08/2007:
Firengine103, that's what my husband told me when I read him "starlord's" comment. ;)
cordova82 on 06/09/2010:
I have a2006.5 optima with the v6. It was doing the same thing last September so I took it to the shop and they kept the car for 3 weeks until the replaces the acclerator assembly. it has not even been 10 months and it is doing it a gain.
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bad Kia cars and company attitude
Posted by on
1. The horn on our 99 Sephia stopped honking this summer. The dealer's service rep originally estimated $50-100 but called back soon after and said the repair would cost $800 because on this car the horn is integrated into the airbag assembly and there is no way to repair the horn without replacing the entire assembly. I contacted the company and offered to share the cost as a horn should not cost $800 to fix but the company said that because the car is off warranty they were not responsible for anything and would not help.

2. In the past year, the muffler on the 01 Optima has failed five times. Each time the car goes in the shop, the company tells the dealer to replace the muffler. It was last replaced around September 10 and is now bad again after less than 2,000 miles. The dealer says this is a common problem on this model and the company has not come up with a fix for it. I'm tired of the hassle of bringing the car in for the same repair over and over.
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Anonymous on 11/19/2003:
I bought a 2002 Kia Sportage - new. I have had nothing but problems. The engine light comes on after a few hundred miles. It has been doing this since the purchase. Kia Headquarter staff are rude and insensitive. Kia dealership person in Union City, GA is the same. They cannot seem to fix the problem for which I will take the car in again today for (I believe) the 6th time for the same problem. The computer shows there is a thermostat problem. They have changed the thermostat and worked on the radiator again and again. They have also driven my car up to 200+ miles almost every time they have the vehicle. There is no talk of helping me exchange this car except with a heavy financial loss to me. Any comments or suggestions?
sissy5657 on 03/19/2004:
Try to threaten them with the Lemon Law
filing a complaint with the Department of Consumer Protection, Better Business bureau
Complain to the Attorney General of GA
Good Luck
nero on 06/12/2004:
I bought a new 2001 Kia Optima in Nov. of 2001.
The first week I had my car, one of the valves stopped working. I took it in to the dealer and they replaced it. I had to have my brakes replaced at 6,000 miles . The noise was horrible! Then about 9 months of having the car, the transmission skips. Bear in mind, I keep my car in excellent shape! Then, my gas gauge was wrong, I filled my car with gas and it read 3/4 full. There are too many problems with these cars. I am not sure why they are able to put these cars out for the public sale??? Thank god I got rid of my Optima after one year of owning it, it was hard to trade it in, because it was not worth anyting for what I owed on it. If you are looking for a Kia product, please reconsider! I can understand if there are a few cars with defects, but not thousands. I will never ever buy a Kia or Hyundai product!
robes on 06/24/2004:
We bought my daugther a 2001 Kia Rio. It has a manual transmission. She has had to have it replace when the gears started slipping before it was over a year old. When they replaced the transmission, they cracked (3) motor mounts and replaced (2). It took 2 months for them to get the parts and in the meantime, she was unable to drive above 45 mph and could not run her air conditioner. We received a recall notice that the vehicle would occasionally stop for no reason. It took 2 months to get the appointment, only to have them say, that the vehicle needed to have the problem in their shop. 30 days later (today) she had the car stall again and took it immediatey to the dealership, they would not repair it because they again said it must stall there. She made another appointment (30 days from now), had a few cuss words to share, went home, opened the mail and received another recall notice on the fuel pump. Her words at 25 and someone who will purchase as many as 15 vehicles in her lifetime "I will NEVER look at or buy another Kia again in my life". I feel like a real dummy for purchasing the first one for her.
kiad00d on 03/10/2007:
horn is integrated into the airbag assembly and there is no way to repair the horn without replacing the entire assembly. <---- I Have never herd of this on a kia and I am an mechanic at Kia they screwed you at your dealer for more $$
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DON't PURCHASE KIA- 2004 Engine Trouble
Posted by on
First car purchased. The car engine is now bad. It only has 80,000 miles and it should not have engine problems.
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GenuineNerd on 07/07/2009:
Was the timing belt changed at 60,000 miles? Were oil changes, coolant flushes, tune ups, and other service done according to the owner's manual? If not, it sounds like the engine's maintenance was neglected. Kias carry 100,000 mile warranties...abuse and neglect are not covered.
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