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really awful
Crashes / Fires:
1 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 1
Average Mileage:
13,000 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.

2008 Kia Optima seat belts / air bags problems

seat belts / air bags problem

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2008 Kia Optima Owner Comments

problem #9

Jun 042010

Optima 4-cyl

  • miles


The contact owns a 2008 Kia Optima. The contact stated while driving 70 mph the driver lost control of the vehicle and crashed into a tree. The air bags did not deploy. A police report was filed and a fatality was reported. The vehicle was destroyed. The manufacturer was not made aware of the failure. The VIN was not available. The failure and current mileage was unknown. Updated 06/12/12 the consumer stated a recall came in the mail on April 12. 2012. Prior to the accident, there was a loud noise coming from under the hood. Updated 06/13/12

- Saugus, MA, USA

problem #8

Mar 182011


  • 43,239 miles
Passenger airbag says off when passenger is sitting in the front seat.

- Rock Hill, SC, USA

problem #7

Dec 022010


  • 30,000 miles
I have a 2008 Kia Optima that I purchased brand new in 2007 I have noticed that when I have a passenger the airbag lights states that air bag is off this is scary are my passengers not being protected by the air bag.

- Slocomb, AL, USA

problem #6

May 072010


  • 24,000 miles


I own a Kia 2008 Optima. Every 3-5 days the passenger airbag sensors do not detect a person sitting in the passenger seat. I can drive for miles and have the person adjust their position and it still doesn't register. It seems to occur with people between 120-160 pounds. They are all over 5'5". I have contacted Kia corporate case #[xxx]. because it happens every three to five days they won't do anything until the computer registers an error. The computer doesn't think anyone is there. It doesn't think there is an issue. They've basically told me when it happens to turn off the car and have the person get out of the car for 3 seconds and then try it again. This doesn't work well when you are picking hs kids up from school. You can't just stop your car in the middle of the street. I've done some research. It looks like Kia has been aware of the problem since 2006. I believe it is a serious safety issue. If the system doesn't identify the person in the seat and there is a head on collision the airbag is not going to deploy. I have video and pictures of it recurring. Kia will don't accept it as evidence. Information redacted pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(B)(6).

- San Antonio, TX, USA

problem #5

Feb 102010


  • 8,000 miles
Front passenger side air bag does not always activate when an adult sits in the front passenger seat. The dashboard light indicates that the airbag is off. Even with an adult weighing about 115 pounds occupies the seat.

- Akron, OH, USA

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problem #4

Feb 082010


  • 21 miles
Indicator light for passenger seat air bag has irregular performance. Can't depend on operation of passenger side air bag. Have made 4 or 5 complaints with dealer and no resolution. Looking at internet it appears this is a problem with various model years on the Kia Optima and other models within the Kia family. Would like to have resolution prior to having an accident with someone in the passenger seat and the air bag does not function.

- Lexington, SC, USA

problem #3

Jan 032010


  • 11,700 miles


We have a 2008 Kia Optima, with 12,000 miles.. the passenger side airbag indicator light malfunctions. While people are seated, it comes on, indicating the air bag is off; which means, in case of accident it will not deploy. It has done this recently on three separate occasions with three different medium to large adults. We have taken this to the local Kia service twice and have been told each time, "you are not sitting correctly." They even supplied us with a "service bulletin" instructing employees how to respond when people report this concern... instructing the consumer how to "sit correctly." After, much conversation with the local Kia dealership employees, everyone, the service manager, tech, and company manager agreed that we had a problem but they couldn't fix it. Their reason was Kia would not recognize it as a problem and would not cover it under the warranty. As a matter of fact, the manager reported to me that the Kia rep was not pleased that the employees had used the word "problem" when referring to my situation. This is a major safety concern and it leaves me with a car, that when the light comes on, I have to stop and move the passenger to the back seat, as the airbag would not deploy in case of an accident. Upon checking the internet, I have discovered pages of others reporting this same problem with the same inane instructions of "not being seated properly." If the Kia's sensor is that sensitive, it needs to be fixed. We feel this needs to be addressed and that Kia needs to admit the problem and fix it!

- Salisbury, NC, USA

problem #2

Apr 132009


  • 38 miles
Bought a new Optima 2008. The passenger airbag is almost always off when a passenger is seating normally on the front seat. The dealer refuses to fix it despite the car being brand new.

- Seattle, WA, USA

problem #1

Oct 132008


  • 5 miles
The contact owns a 2008 Kia Optima. The contact stated that the passenger side air bag indicator illuminated, which meant that the air bag was deactivated. The indicator never illuminated to indicate that it was activated. The failure occurs intermittently and without warning. The contact finds this to be very unsafe because there was no guarantee that the air bag would activate in the event of a crash. The vehicle was taken to the dealer and they stated that because passengers were seated improperly, the air bag module would not activate. No repairs have been made. The manufacturer could not find any recalls; therefore, no compensation would be made. The failure mileage was 5 and current mileage was 5,843.

- Lexington, SC, USA

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