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really awful
Crashes / Fires:
2 / 1
Injuries / Deaths:
1 / 0
Average Mileage:
27,080 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.

2012 Kia Optima steering problems

steering problem

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2012 Kia Optima Owner Comments (Page 3 of 5)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #43

Oct 282014


  • miles


Noticed in October 2014 the car started drifting and the steering wheel began to lock up. It has become progressively worse and now I'm hearing a knocking noise in the steering wheel. I was told by my coworker who has a 2011 Optima that he has the same problem and he was told by the dealership that it was a plastic gear in the steering column and would cost roughly $300 to fix. Upon research with this issue I have come across several owners that seem to have the same problem which Kia knows about. I feel that Kia should correct this problem at their expense before this issue kills someone.

- Loxahatchee, FL, USA

problem #42

Jul 162015


  • 26,030 miles
I have noticed a lot of play in the steering of my 2012 Optima in the last few months. I took the car into the dealer for new tires, alignment and balance while the mechanic was putting on the tires, I asked him about the play in the steering wheel and he said it was because of a fiber gear in the steering motor that is on the steering column and that it was a warrenty problem and would be repaired free of charge there is a small fiber gear about the size of a quarter that the teeth break off of and will cause a clicking that I had herd and could cause the steering to lockup. When the unit was taken apart, the gear had a lot of teeth broken off and after it was replace the steering wheel was fine again with no play in the wheel I saw no recall or warnings but it seems that this happens at about 25000 mile give or take. Thought I would share this with other owners it can be repaired at no cost on a warrenty bases

- Miami, FL, USA

problem #41

Jul 022014


  • 28,000 miles
I noticed when I was driving in the freeway I had to keep over correcting the steering wheel. It would get stuck and you needed to kind of jerk it to unstick.

- Moreno Valley , CA, USA

problem #40

May 132015


  • 52,006 miles


Vehicle has trouble maintaining proper steering at highway speeds. The steering needs to almost constantly be turned right to left to try to maintain straight driving. The steering will also occasional lock when turning and you have to manually turn the wheel back straight. The constant need to over correct the steering makes the vehicle unsafe to drive. I could see it easily causing an accident in the correct conditions.

- Massillon, OH, USA

problem #39

Apr 032015


  • 47,400 miles
We purchased the car on 4/3/15 hendrick Chevrolet in cary nc drove 5 miles home back to dealer ship next morning for paperwork to finish. Left dealership headed to main highway interstate 40 noticeable as soon as you get at highway speed the steering was tight had to hold on with both hand the car was weaving lane to lane as the was no center for you to drive straight. Immediately called dealer we took the car back left it. Today is a few weeks out 4/23/15 the have reset steering code, align and rebalanced tires a few times and yesterday replaced the whole steering column and we today still does the same thing. They said today they will replaces the tires and see his this goes. From the start they said no one has reported this issues but I showed them online of the hundreds of complaints. Kia is involved but I think they just want us to take the car and go. Its not safe and I am not driving it. It will sit there till tires rot. They are suppose to call Kia foe more things to they but they didn't act lime they are in a hurry. If I would have known this car had complaints L. would have never purchased it. Did research the car before purchase did not see any issue until I googled the problem and man the internet went crazy. I want it fixed and safe or Kia to offer me a similar car with no issues...............

- Apex, NC, USA

problem #38

Mar 282015


  • 61,018 miles
While taking a curve on the interstate, the steering wheel would hold itself in position as if it were almost in the locked position. Had been driving the car for almost 2 hours when this occurred. Took next exit to check power steering fluid and tires. Everything checked ok. Got back on the interstate and it continued to happen until the car was shut off and parked overnight. Very dangerous, especially for someone new to driving. The steering G wheel would hold itself into any position I left it in. It would never try to re-center itself while driving. May be coincidence, but the cruise control would not maintain the set speed at the same time this was occurring. Dealership stated no error codes were stored on the cars computer.

- Ona, WV, USA

problem #37

Feb 022015


  • miles


The steering wheel sticks at hwy speeds. I have to pull the wheel hard to be able to change lanes. It drifts from left to right with out even turning the steering wheel. This is a major safety concern for me and everybody else on the road. It would be a real bad situation if I could not turn in the event of something in my way. I have also notified Kia of this problem. I have seen post dating as early as 2012 about this problem and still Kia has not notified me that this could be a real concern. I am posting along with alot of other people in hopes that this will become public not only for my car but for everybody else who does not know about this situation before its to late for somebody else.

- Memphis, TN, USA

problem #36

Jul 022012


  • 3,000 miles
Unable to steer the vehicle in a straight line at highway speeds. Car consistently drifts from left to right and right to left. Steering wheels feels as though it becomes locked in position. As you attempt to correct the steering, the steering wheel randomly breaks free causing over correcting which could very easily result in a crash. Has been taken to the dealers and they say the car is within specs and you don't have any warning lights on so therefore there is no problem with it. This is going to result in someone losing their life.

- Boise, ID, USA

problem #35

Jan 022015


  • 31,000 miles
Electric power steering intermittently malfunctions at highway speed causing a snapping sensation in the steering wheel and inability to hold a a steady heading. Steering becomes sticky requiring G constant adjustments as the car drifts from one sticky heading to another. Dealer repeatedly unable to diagnose.

- White Plains, NY, USA

problem #34

Nov 092014


  • 23,682 miles
The contact owns a 2012 Kia Optima. While driving between 60-65 mph, the vehicle swerved independently towards the left and without warning. The dealer stated that there was no failure. The manufacturer was not notified. The failure mileage was 23,682. The VIN was not available.

- North Chesterfield, VA, USA

problem #33

Dec 022014


  • 49,000 miles


The contact owns a 2012 Kia Optima. The contact stated that while driving 40-45 mph, the steering wheel seized causing the vehicle to sway abnormally. The vehicle was not diagnosed or repaired. The manufacturer was not made aware of the failure. The failure mileage was 49,000.

- Mt. Airy , MD, USA

problem #32

Nov 202014


  • 33,974 miles
The vehicle is very hard to steer when you go over 45/55 miles per hour. It becomes so uncontrollable that I have to drive it with both hands as I continue to try to control the vehicle from either going into another lane or hitting the one coming traffic. The steering wheel gets soooo tight /stiff that the car cannot travel down the highway without me constantly shifting steering wheel from left to right. Any slight over pull / correction of the wheel is going to cause someone there life or a horrible accident.I pray that Kia corrects this before someone or cause someone to lose their life. Hope this will be recalled before it's to late. I was on the highway fighting to stay in my lane and crossed over into the oncoming traffic (which could've caused me my life)and it was a sheriff deputy. He immediately turned around to stop me. He thought I was dui. This was very embarrassing.I explained to him that I had the txt the dealership where I had got the car from and they tried to put it on the highway/ tires but they suggested I take it to Kia dealership closer to me. The officer suggested I get it checked asap and didn't charge me. Not only am I afraid to drive the car but I'm exhausted and body extremely tired from driving it. No one should feel this way. Kia please listen to your customers because they can make you or break you. Please don't be like that other car company and someone had to lose their life first. Please listen!!!!!

- Midway, GA, USA

problem #31

Nov 012012


  • 15,000 miles
Vehicle is hard to hold straight at higher speeds. The steering locks into a position and requires extra effort to turn the wheel causing over correction.

- Augusta, GA, USA

problem #30

May 162012


  • 53 miles
I have had this vehicle for over 2 years now and have about 30,000 miles on it. I took this car to the dealership within a week after I bought it for problems with steering and it's inability to stay straight on the road without having to continually adjust the steering wheel. I was told that there was nothing they could find wrong with it. But after finding this website, I now understand that I am not the first one to have this issue. Recently I have had an issue with the air conditioner. It works fine when the car is driving but when it is stopped or idling, the air suddenly blows warm air and doesn't start to blow cold until a few seconds after the car has started moving.

- Henderson, NV, USA

problem #29

Oct 052011

Optima 4-cyl

  • miles
Vehicle is hard to hold straight at higher speeds. The steering locks into a position and requires extra effort to turn the wheel causing over correction. This causes mental and physical fatigue on longer trips and could cause an accident.

- Santa Clarita, CA, USA

problem #28

Jan 012012


  • 1,000 miles
The contact owns a 2012 Kia Optima. The contact stated that while driving 30 mph, the steering wheel became uncontrollable, causing the vehicle to sway abnormally. The contact mentioned that the vehicle became difficult to maneuver. The failure recurred several times. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The failure mileage was 1,000 and the current mileage was 24,000.

- Quartz Hill, CA, USA

problem #27

Mar 122014


  • 10,000 miles
Vehicle steering wheel control has abnormal nonfluent consistency. The driver has to continuously correct steering to continue to keep the vehicle traveling straight, otherwise vehicle will start to drift immediately. When correction is made to keep vehicle traveling straight, steering wheel has to be turned with more than normal force, which then results to a oversteering response due to the incapable of making a minor adjustment. This continues to make vehicle to drift from side to side excessively while driving which in turn can make the driver appear impaired or distracted. The problem is felt in the steering wheel causing the wheel to stick in place near center placement. For example, it is like riding a bike on pavement then transitioning to mud, one has to apply more peddling motion to get through the mud, and when they are back on pavement suddenly, they jump to an unexpected speed, faster then what they intended. This is how the steering reacts to minor adjustments that need extra force to unstick the steering wheel which concludes that the electric-assisted power steering is not functioning properly. The vehicle's air pressure in all 4 tires are equal and at 35psi, wheels are properly balanced alignment is at manufactures specifications. This problem did not exist when the car was bought new (because no one would buy a $30,000 car that does not drive straight) and just currently started to act up.

- Madison, WI, USA

problem #26

Feb 282014


  • 10,000 miles
At, highway speeds, the steering wheel seems to stick when making minor corrections. It is very annoying and tiring on the arms. Going around corners or bends in the road it seems fine though. It only happens at highway speeds making minor corrections in the lane. This is something Kia should take a serious look at because it seems like a lot of the complaints are around this issue. I put 10,000 miles but it has been happening since we bought the car new and it currently has 16,000. Have not had dealer look at it yet.

- Green Bay, WI, USA

problem #25

Dec 022013


  • 32,000 miles
The contact owns a 2012 Kia Optima. The contact stated that while driving at various speeds, the vehicle would sway from right to left. The vehicle was not taken to the dealer. The manufacturer was not made aware of the failure. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure and current mileage was 32,000.

- Coconut Creek , FL, USA

problem #24

Nov 222013


  • 20,200 miles
10549868 continued: Another way to describe the steering problem follows. When I move the steering wheel left to right, back and forth ever so slightly, all works fine. Steering is easy and takes little force to correct. If one was to measure the required force, it would be slight, lets say 2 units. When the steering wheel has been stationary for a couple of seconds, and I try to make a minor correction, the force required is much greater, lets say 12 units. So while driving and the car is drifting to the right of lane. Making the correction, overcoming the stuck feeling, the car starts to drift towards the left of lane. This back and forth process needs to be continuously performed, however, as speed increase, this process has to happen more often, causing fatigue in the arms and wrists and making the driving experience quite stressful. It?S as if the steering assist of the electric ps motor goes to sleep when the steering wheel is stationary, thus the added force required when making a minor correction is to wake the motor up. I am taking the car back to the dealer with these two descriptions of the steering problem. They will have the car for 4days at least.

- Chandler, AZ, USA

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