Huge win for car owners! All TSBs to be made public. The Center for Auto Safety just made the NHTSA (US Government) make public the full text of all TSBs from now on. They are the same organization that has petitioned the NHTSA & filed lawsuits to protect car owners over exploding gas tanks & other major safety issues. Whenever you drive in your car, you are safer thanks in part to a lot of work over the years by this small but very effective consumer advocacy group.

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hardly worth mentioning
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
89,823 miles

About These NHTSA Complaints:

This data is from the NHTSA — the US gov't agency tasked with vehicle safety. Complaints are spread across multiple & redundant categories, & are not organized by problem.

So how do you find out what problems are occurring? For this NHTSA complaint data, the only way is to read through the comments below. Any duplicates or errors? It's not us.

2003 Kia Optima body / paint problems

body / paint problem

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2003 Kia Optima Owner Comments

problem #10

Mar 152015


  • 98,000 miles


The contact owns a 2003 Kia Optima. The contact stated that while parked, the door lock failed. The contact attempted to use the fobik and could lock the doors, but they failed to unlock. The contact had to unlock and lock the doors manually. The vehicle was not diagnosed or repaired. The failure mileage was 98,000. Updated 02/12/16

- Dayton, TN, USA

problem #9

Jul 172014


  • 85,000 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Kia Optima. The contact stated that the front driver side door failed to unlock. The contact stated that in order to get inside the vehicle, he had to climb over to the driver side. The contact also stated that the "air bag" warning light was illuminated continuously. The vehicle was taken to the dealer for a diagnostic and the mechanic was unable to locate a solution to the problem. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was notified of the failure and the approximate failure mileage was 85,000.

- Camarillo, CA, USA

problem #8

Dec 302013

Optima 6-cyl

  • 114,993 miles
My wife noticed the car pulling to the right and called her brother. He looked at the vehicle that evening 12/30/2013. He drove the car pulling onto a highway, the car would not move -- neither forward nor reverse. He pushed the vehicle off the road and the front axle dropped out of the transmission. It was towed and the garage notified us that the front sub-frame had corroded. Online research reveals NHTSA recalled Kia Optima (2001-2004 model years) on May 27, 2009. I called the dealership on 12/31/13 where the car was purchased. The customer service rep said the recall did not apply to our vehicle. The kmc was contacted on 1/2/14. I was informed that the recall was based on "salt usage of 20 states and DC." This interpretation of the NHTSA recall id # 84125 needs direct clarification from the NHTSA. The original recall letter states: "kmc is recalling model year 2001 - 2004 Optima vehicles originally "sold in or" currently registered in the states of (20 + the District of Columbia)." Since I purchased the vehicle in Indiana my vehicle should be covered by the initial recall. Regardless, the safety issue of the vehicle should warrant a notification to all owners of potential problems for this vehicle. This mechanical issue could have resulted in a catastrophic event. This complaint is also associated with ODI# 10558172.

- Philpot, KY, USA

problem #7

Oct 072013

Optima 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 65,000 miles


The contact owns a 2003 Kia Optima. The contact stated that the front passenger's side door would not open. The vehicle was taken to the dealer for diagnosis. The technician stated that the door actuator would have to be replaced. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure. The vehicle was repaired. The approximate failure mileage was 65,000. Updated 01/07/14

- Raymore, MO, USA

problem #6

May 312013

Optima 6-cyl

  • 107,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Kia Optima. The contact stated the front driver's and passenger's side door would not open when the doors were unlocked. The manufacturer was not made aware of the failure. The vehicle was not repaired. The approximate failure mileage was 107,000.

- Roseville, CA, USA

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problem #5

Apr 262013

Optima 6-cyl

  • 77,538 miles
Passenger door locks and will not unlock without pushing the unlock button and pulling the door handle at the same time. It takes about 5 to 10 minutes to get door open using this method. This is a serious safety issue which could trap a person in their car.

- Hanford, CA, USA

problem #4

Oct 232012


  • 90,000 miles


The contact owns a 2003 Kia Optima. The contact stated that the driver door failed and as a result, the door does not open automatically or manually. The contact had to use the passenger front door to be able to get out of the vehicle. The vehicle was not taken to the dealer to have a diagnostic performed. The vehicle was not repaired. The approximate failure and current mileage was 90,000.

- Jacksonville , FL, USA

problem #3

Jul 022012

Optima 6-cyl

  • 124,700 miles
All of a sudden, without any extra/abnormal stress, damage or accident... the passenger-side door lock would not engage either from the remote lock/unlock buttons, or same button function available inside the car, and even manually switching the lock while sitting in the passenger's chair fails every-time. The only way to get the door locked or unlocked is to get out of the car and use the key to jiggle the lock until it finally switches to a locked or unlocked position. This issue is not the first I've heard about this vehicle model and year... it is very frustrating and I'm sure it could be a danger to the passenger in the event of a rollover. Or even create a new possibility for theft if the locking mechanism fails to lock the door properly when we leave the vehicle...! please let me know if this can be resolved without having to pay out of pocket for poor workmanship.

- Worthing, SD, USA

problem #2

Feb 062012


  • miles
The door handle(s) are defective to point where even though the door is unlocked, the door cannot be opened. Upon taking it to a body shop, the workers inform me that this could be a safety recall and that I should contact the dealer before doing anything else. There is evidence that this is not an isolated problem. A simple internet search of "2003 Kia Optima door stuck" will show that millions of consumers are having this problem. This is a serious safety hazard, when thinking in terms of an accident or if a passenger needs to quickly get out of the car. I feel that Kia needs to address this situation.

- Memphis, TN, USA

problem #1

Nov 042011


  • 136,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Kia Optima. The contact stated that when attempting to open the driver side door, the vehicle would lock before the door could be opened. In addition, the driver side door could not be opened from inside the vehicle and the contact had to exit the vehicle through the passenger side door. The vehicle was not taken to a dealer or a mechanic for inspection or repairs. The failure mileage was 136,000.

- Cicero, IN, USA

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