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.

Please take a moment & say thank you by donating $5 or whatever you can to the Center for Auto Safety.


really awful
Crashes / Fires:
1 / 4
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
107,359 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.

2011 Kia Optima engine problems

engine problem

Find something helpful? Spread the word.
Get notified about new defects, investigations, recalls & lawsuits for the 2011 Kia Optima:

Unsubscribe any time. We don't sell/share your email.

2011 Kia Optima Owner Comments (Page 1 of 3)

problem #52

Sep 262016


  • 91,000 miles


Started car after work and it suddenly started knocking. Tried to "baby" the car home, made it 3 blocks away from work and the motor blew up. The result of a piston slapping a spark plug and punching a hole in the block. Should fall under the warranty of these cars having "weak connecting rods" but should be a recall instead.

- Sioux Falls, SD, USA

problem #51

Sep 252016


  • 140,000 miles
On September 25, 2016, I was driving my 2011 Kia Optima to church with my 2 children. After coming up on a red light I stopped and then proceeded to go when the light turned green. I was able to get through the light and accelerate up a slight hill at about 35-40mph. After going over hill, I was not able to press the gas to keep going and my brakes ended up locking up so I had to get in far lane in order for the car to coast into a store parking lot. All the lights on the car came on and car literally just cut off. Thankfully it was not a lot of cars on the road to cause an accident. I contacted a tow company the next day to have it towed to a mechanic and said the car still wanted to turn over but something was blocking it from starting so I had it towed to a 2nd mechanic for diagnostics and it appears that the connecting rod is the issue. I've maintained the car with the same mechanic for the past 3 years and I have a little of 140K miles. I've talked with the dealership and said I could have the car towed there and they would perform a diagnostic test for about $99 an hour and if the engine was the issue it would not be covered because of the warranty is only for 120K miles and that I must have all my paperwork for maintenance from the mechanic I used.

- Huntersville, NC, USA

problem #50

Sep 302016


  • 85,000 miles
The engine totally locked up....while driving, in motion, on a very busy interstate type highway! very dangerous! many Kia owners appear to be having this problem also. The engine is frozen solid and will not turn over per reputable repair shop. These engines also are not readily available to buy for replacement and Kia has discontinued making them available. This indicates loudly there is a problem.

- Atlanta, GA, USA

problem #49

Sep 282016


  • 85,000 miles


Same complaints as the others, 85,000 miles and the engine locked up while driving home. No check engine/low oil light. Had to have it towed to the shop, only to find out that my only option is to replace the motor. The shop's report was that the oil was low and dark, could not crank engine manually by hand, engine has internal damage and has to be replaced.. $4100 if I choose to proceed. We bought it used, and are sol.

- Sioux Falls, SD, USA

problem #48

Sep 252016


  • 132,000 miles
On Sept 24 2016 around 10 pm, driving home engine locks up, car turns off and I was unable to steer the car. Luckily I was heading around a wide turn and was able to slow the car down as it drifted off the road onto the edge of the road. Kia dealer diagnosed the engine failure with a hole in the block. Kia consumer support today Sept 29, 2016 said they will not replace the engine. This problem seems to be pretty wide spread with many Kia models as well as Hyundai models. There also seems to be a class action starting against Kia for not follow suite with Hyundai when Hyundai make owners aware. Same engine from same plant. Going to keep calling Kia support until I get some help. I have not received any notice from Kia about a recall or service notice as other have made note of receiving.

- Amelia, VA, USA

problem #47

May 232016


  • 126,000 miles
I purchased my vehicle in February 2016, out of the blue on May 22, 2016 I heard a slight knocking noise coming from the engine area. I immediately scheduled an appointment for the very next morning. While driving on the I-15 South at around 7:00am I was traveling at around 55 mph due to traffic when the engine made a loud noise then completely shut off on me. Luckily I was able to crank the wheel and pull the vehicle to the off ramp nearby without hurting anyone. I had my vehicle towed to a nearby shop and after a 24hr evaluation it was found that there were metal shavings inside the oil compartment and because of these shavings it caused complete engine failure. Now my vehicle has been undriveable since may because it will cost me $4,200 to repair.

- Escondido, CA, USA

problem #46

Sep 142016


  • 95,000 miles


I was told by the Kia dealership that my 2011 Kia Optima needs a new engine. I was driving down the highway in middle lane. I tried to accelerate my car and my engine was making a rattling noise and the oil light started flickering all the lights on the dash came on and the car stalled. I had to call a tow company to tow my car to Kia. The next day Kia said I needed a new engine and I must prove that I kept maintenance on my car by providing them with all my oil change receipts. I have no car now and I need to get to work and get my kids to school.

- Pompano Beach, FL, USA

problem #45

Mar 022016


  • 95,000 miles
I had drove this car for a year with no minor or major problems what so ever just regularly performed maintence and up keep. Never once seeing a engine or oil light. However in March of 2016 with no warning or anything my car started making this horrible ┐knocking noise┐ which was minimal at first and grew louder as I accelerated. And the engine light came on after that and has never gone off. This immediately raised concerns for me but did not no the cause, I pulled over to a mechanic shop and after just 30 seconds of hearing my car start then die with the horrible knocking noise. I was told I would more than likely need a whole new engine. His exact words to me are 'sounds like you got a rod knock┐. and he checked my oil to see if any was in the engine which it was and asked me about vehicle history. From my understanding and the 3 separate mechanics I have spoke with says there would be no reason for a 2011 that has 90K miles to have an internal engine problem. At the time I immediately called Kia and they say it won't be covered which puts me at a lost for words and having me try to prepare to buy a engine which cost will equal into the $5,000 price range. This was not a realistic option for me and forced me to seek other options. And come to find out Hyundai shares the same engine in my 2011 Kia Optima and they recalled theirs. But Kia is calling this a mechanism defect now, and still fighting claims. It just baffles me if Hyundai is the parent comapny of Kia and they re called the engine, why is Kia fighting everyone so hard on these claims... I just don't believe all us Optima owners in America don't T know how to get oil changes, and thats what Kia wants us to believe.

- Houston, TX, USA

problem #44

May 132016


  • 87,000 miles
The engne locked up at 87K! I had no oil in

- Raleigh, NC, USA

problem #43

Sep 102016


  • 103,900 miles
Friday Sept 9th I had my oil changed at walmart in jackson Ohio, which is approximately 12 miles from my home, after the oil change I drove home and parked the car for the evening, I'm retired so I don't drive very much everyday, so Saturday I went to leave to go to the store which is about a half mile away and when I got in my car leaving the store the car started and sounded like metal banging around, I instantly thought that walmart left my oil cap off or something so I turned the car off and checked, cap was on and the oil was good and to the full line, I started the car and drive it home and the noise got tremendously worse, the speed limit is 25 between home and the store and the car wouldn't go past 15 mph, it's sitting now and if I try to start it, it will start but the noise is unbelievable, not drivable, I've looked up this car and more then 200 of the same complainants are on the vehicle for the same exact thing and everyone says they have to replace the motor to a tune of between 5,000-7,000 dollars, what can be done about this" why isn't Kia fixing these engines? I bought the car used and still owe at least two years on the car! I heard the hyndai has the same exact motor and they have a recall for the motor doing this??? car has 103,900 miles and I've always kept maintenance up and regular oil changes! too many of these Kia Optima shave had bad motors and the public is suff ring and getting put into unsafe situations because of it, will someone have to die because of this to get Kia to finally fix it???"

- Oak Hill, OH, USA

problem #42

Sep 072016


  • 101,500 miles


On September 7, 2016, I was driving down the highway at 70 mph in my 2011 Kia Optima when all of a sudden the engine shut off and all of the lights on the dashboard came on. I could hear the engine rev slightly when I stepped on the gas, but the car would not accelerate. The engine just shut off. It was 7:30am when this occurred so luckily there were not many cars on the road yet. I was able to get the car over, however, because the engine was off, the breaks would not work well. I was finally able to get the car to stop by continuing to hit the breaks and applying the emergency break as well. Kia recommends oil changes every 7,500 miles, however, I usually have mine done every 5,000. I had zero warning signs that something was wrong with my car. The last oil change was performed on August 31, 2016, and the mechanic that performed the change said everything looked fine. There was zero smoke coming from the engine or exhaust and no "knocking" sound in the engine. I had the car towed directly to the dealer. Once there, we tested the battery and it seemed a little low. Mind you this is a new battery purchased from costco about 2 months ago. We tried jumping the car and after trying to start the car a 3rd time, the engine started shooting out black smoke and had a foul smell to it. Several hours later, I received a call from the dealer authorizing $280 to open the top of the engine so they could take pictures and send it to Kia.. I searched on the internet and found several other 2011 Kia owners experiencing a similar issue and was just told by a friend the same thing happened to her 2011 Optima as well. Looks like Hyundai had the same issue and it is the same engine as the Kia and had a recall. My car had 101,500 miles (mostly highway miles) and the only issue I ever had was to replace a clockspring in the steering column about 6-months ago.

- Newark, DE, USA

problem #41

Aug 132016


  • 120,000 miles
2011 Kia Optima. Serviced as required. Approx 120,000 miles. Engine started making knocking noises and seized. Took to mechanic and was told metal shavings were in the motor and need new motor. After investigating on line, it appears this is a common issue with the motors. Also, Kia motors were built in the same plant as hundai and those motors as well had the same issue and were recalled! why has Kia not recalled these motors knowing there is an issue" our mechanic was able to get a motor for a Dodge at his shop with no issue, but when he called to get a motor for the Kia Optima - none to be found! called Kia directly and they said they had none either, all on back order....why??? this is very out of the ordinary, and I wish that something would be done to get Kia to recall these motors and make it right with the buyers. Why has this not been investigated my NHTSA" my daughter was driving this car when it seized in traffic on a busy street in the city, and after reading others they seem to have the same issue! giant safety issue!!!!!!! several class action suits against Kia, guess it is time to join in on that!

- Wylie, TX, USA

problem #40

Jul 182016


  • 124,000 miles
Engine is blown, the engine block has snapped off and pieces are banging around in my engine

- Maynard, MA, USA

problem #39

Aug 082016


  • 100,000 miles
I was driving along on the main highway and it started making a loud noise then the car just died and when it did it made a loud pop and wouldn't start.

- Upton, KY, USA

problem #38

Jul 272016


  • 67,000 miles
My son was driving our 2011 Kia Optima home one evening and the engine just stopped without warning. No warning lights whatsoever. We took the vehicle to the Kia dealer and they told us that the engine was seized up. They said it was caused by sludge in the oil. The price to replace it would be 6,612.00$ I contacted Kia Corp. And was told they would not pay for it because of the oil. The engines have a defect that they are aware of but refuse to acknowledge it. Something needs to be done about this. They have quite a poor history with these engines. I have taken my vehicle to my personal certified mechanic. He told me the engine was seized but there was not an unusual amount of sludge in the engine. They are going to put another engine in the vehicle with less miles for about 1,200.00$ less. Not only Kia wouldn't help me out but they were going to charge an above average cost. The average cost to replace the engine is 4900.00$ something needs to be done to help all who are dealing with this problem. Please advise

- Sanford, FL, USA

problem #37

Aug 012016


  • 59,000 miles
The contact owns a 2011 Kia Optima. While exiting the highway at an unknown speed, an abnormal sound emitted from the engine without warning. The contact mentioned that the sound became louder while accelerating. The vehicle was shut off, but failed to restart. The vehicle was towed to the dealer where the technician diagnosed that the engine assembly may need to be replaced. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 59,000....updated 10/11/16

- Norcross, GA, USA

problem #36

Aug 152012


  • 102,000 miles
My 2011 Kia Optima has gone through 2 engines without any indication of a problem. Both time I was driving and the car stopped. I change my oil every 5000 miles. No lights came on before the engine failed, that lead me to believe there was a problem. I will be submitting a complaint to the Kia organization shortly.

- Concord, OH, USA

problem #35

Jul 102016


  • 75,000 miles
The contact owns a 2011 Kia Optima. While driving approximately 65 mph, the engine stalled without warning. The vehicle was towed to the dealer where it was diagnosed that the engine needed to be replaced. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The VIN was unknown. The approximate failure mileage was 75,000.

- Tonawanda, NY, USA

problem #34

Mar 252016


  • 98,000 miles
March 2016 while traveling on highway at 65 mph and passing a slow moving vehicle car lost power, became difficult to steer and unresponsive. We were lucky that we were right by rest area and coasted safely. Inspected the vehicle while and noticed a smell reminding an electrical short/fire. Car was towed to Kia dealer and diagnosed to be engine failure. The engine was inspected and per dealer it was pristine, Kia decided to cover under warranty @ approx 98K miles. Dealer stated that per Kia it was due possibly to non oem oil filter (nice). When we got the car back it did not want to start occasionally, where it hesitated especially as temperatures increased. Noticed dealer, dealer took it in verified battery and starter were to spec. In June on a hot day car almost did not start, set an appointment with dealer for later in the week. Next day car did not start, was towed to dealer and diagnosed to week starter. Starter was replaced and car started on for one day, the second day temperatures increased and car was dead with similar electrical meltdown, also noticed fog lights were not working after bulb replacement. Dealer diagnosed with Kia to bad engine again due to tolerances causing friction and more heat. Spoke to Kia and started a case but they just want to replace the engine again and not discuss potential issues with electrical harness compromise and ongoing issue with engine failing for no reason. This car is scarry and hope it does not start on fire when the third engine fails.

- Binghamton, NY, USA

problem #33

Feb 112016


  • 99,205 miles
Vehicle shot down while driving and accelerating pedal didn't respond. We had restart vehicle some day 3 or 4 times and after that was working for the week or two with no problem.when the same problem occurred we took the vehicle to Kia and told them that engine has a problem because while driving shot down. It was still under warranty. Kia failed to fix the problem and said that is nothing wrong with the engine.Kia said that vehicle is fine with no problem. After warranty expired engine blow out and Kia replaced the engine. They asked $ 5900for replace the engine. We refused to pay so much money because we feel that was the same problem before the warranty. They offered us the engine for free and we paid $ 1875 for labor. We made a claim through Kia headquarter before the warranty expired. Nothing helps.we have to pay because Kia engines are not good and it has to be a recall the long time ago. When engine finally blows out it was the same scenario as always before...restart engine, engine shot down while driving, restart again, driving, restart until we heard loud knock noise

- Buena Park, CA, USA

Read the next 20 complaints »

Not what you are looking for?