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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 4 of 5)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #23

Nov 202012

Optima 4-cyl

  • 10,350 miles


Most noticeable while driving on paved highways at mph over 45. Steering seems stuck near straight ahead position and when attempting to make minor correction to remain in lane, a slight over correction occurs due to getting past this sticky position. Of course the over correction requires another slight movement of the steering wheel, which again meets resistance, and so the over correction occurs again. Continuing this left and right movement of the car in the lane creates stressful driving at best, and painful wrists, at worst on long drives. When engine off and in a quiet location, moving the steering wheel, left and right regardless of steering wheel position or wheel position, you can both hear a slight snap and feel it when overcoming the stuck place. This problem is always present, however not as noticeable in local traffic or while actual turning around a bend for example. Dealer could not duplicate the problem last year, and hopefully when I take it in for the 20,000 mile check up, my more complete description of the problem should help. I did call the dealer about 6 months ago, and they sent me to someone higher up. His comment was that he gets many calls every day about this, and that it's the way it is.

- Chandler, AZ, USA

problem #22

Jan 112012


  • 10,000 miles
The contact owns a 2012 Kia Optima. The contact stated that while driving approximately 65 mph, the steering wheel suddenly became difficult to maneuver. The vehicle was taken to a dealer where the failure was unable to be replicated. The manufacturer was not notified of the failure. The vehicle was not repaired. The approximate failure mileage was 10,000 and the current mileage was 28,000. The VIN was not available.

- Phenix City, AL, USA

problem #21

Jul 022012

Optima 4-cyl

  • 10,000 miles
While drive above 45mph the car wonders left and right, making it very hard to keep the car on the road. It also feels like there is a catch in the steering making it very easy to over correct the car. I have had it into Kia to have the car looked at twice now. They have checked the alignment, tire pressure... they drove a salesman's car and a car off there lot and they tell me this is the way they all drive. I find this very hard to believe, (its a workout to keep the car on the road). I have been doing searches on the internet to try and find a solution for the problem, while doing this I have found a lot of other people that are having the same problem and are getting the same feedback from the dealers. From what I have found is its a known problem with the 2011, 2012, 2013 Kia Optima's.

- Earling, IA, USA

problem #20

Nov 122012

Optima 4-cyl

  • 18,000 miles


The contact owns a 2012 Kia Optima. The contact stated that while driving at various speeds, the power steering malfunctioned and caused the vehicle to drift from side to side. The vehicle was taken to the dealer who along with the manufacturer, stated that the vehicle was operating properly. The vehicle had not been repaired. The failure mileage was 18,000 and the current mileage was 35,000.

- Soddy Daisy, TN, USA

problem #19

Apr 022012

Optima 4-cyl

  • 150 miles
Steering is very unstable. Extremely afraid of this car - I feel like I am not in control when driving, I constantly have to fight to stay straight. Veers/pulls left and right as if im bouncing in between the lines on the interstate. My stomach stays in knots in fear I will hit another vehicle, or worse a concrete barrier in the construction on the interstate. It feels as if 3-5 seconds I am not in control, my arms are exhausted by the time I arrive to my work, home, or elsewhere. Have complained several times to Kia dealer when having oil changed & I am always told nothing is wrong or cannot duplicate problem. Four mechanics have driven my car elsewhere and agree there is a safety issue and Kia should recall and fix before it cost someone/a family their lives. My dash lights also surge to maximum brightness at any random moment while driving - all on their own. I recently started having issues with starting my car, I bought my car in March 2012 and currently have 14K miles (highway for work). Recently, twice my car felt as if it was not going to start, sputtering, smell of exhaust inside car. I also have issues if I am at a red light/stopped and when I accelerate sometimes the car feels as if it dies out for a second - misfiring. I can not pass in traffic out of fear my car will not respond when I try to accelerate. My car constantly will not connect to my phone, or keeps a call display on the radio after the call has ended (freezes) until I restart my car. I feel there is something terribly wrong with the wiring/electrical/steering with my car and several others according to other complaints on here! Toyota recalled only after a death, Hyundai/Nissan/Dodge all just recalled immediately - what about us Kia? I have a family in this sedan that is going to end up costing my life or worse, my entire family's lives! please address this problem!!!!! steering is not normal or safe!!!

- Gonzales, LA, USA

problem #18

Feb 092013

Optima 4-cyl

  • 27,000 miles
I am a new owner of a 2012 LX Kia Optima with 27K miles. My concern is when driving at highway speeds greater than 65 mph you have to use two hands on steering wheel just to keep the vehicle straight and from pulling left or right. It feel as if the steering wheel slips and is quite alarming. I have to work harder to keep it in the lanes making me more tired.

- Alabaster, AL, USA

problem #17

May 312012

Optima 4-cyl

  • 500 miles


2012 Kia Optima hybrid. Has been demonstrating a very nervous steering (left and right pulling), more markedly at highway speeds, even since brand new, but incident date reported was the first time the problem was extremely noticeable. Incident event reported was not an accident, but close one. Even after installation of new tires, balancing and alignment, steering keeps responding nervously, causing driver fatigue and not imparting too much confidence to the driver at high speeds.

- Bristow, VA, USA

problem #16

Jan 292013


  • 14,000 miles
The owner of a 2012 LX Kia Optima with 14K mi but very concern after discovering that at highway speeds greater than 65-75 mph you have to use two hands on steering wheel just to keep the vehicle straight and from pulling left or right. I'm not a tech but, if I had to guess, my money is on the electronic/power steering device. I love everything about this car and if Kia/Hyundai motors wants to keep their sells, then they better "own it!" this is definitely a recall/ NHTSA safety matter that should be taken seriously. Electronic/power steering is an area that should be looked at and resolved immediately for the safety of the public.

- Sun City, AZ, USA

problem #15

Jan 082012

Optima 4-cyl

  • 21,000 miles
The vehicle drifts left and right constantly and substantially, we have taken it to the dealer more times than I can count. Same conclusion every time. Adjusted, and vehicle is within specifications. They have not and refuse to acknowledge there is a serious issue. As of January 8th 2013, over one year since purchasing the problem, it still exists. We recently was in a minor accident because of this problem. On a tight road with little or no room for waiver, we struck another vehicles mirror with ours at 70mph. Luckily there was only superficial damage besides both of us deciding we are not driving this car again due to the safety of our children and ourselves. We are currently pursuing a lemon claim on the vehicle. Bale Kia and crain Kia both have told us the same thing, could not duplicate and vehicle is within specifications, tsb #032. According to them they are assuming we are making this up. Along with the 30+ other complaints found on here.

- North Little Rock, AR, USA

problem #14

May 102012


  • 120 miles
I bought this Kia Optima sx in May 2012 because it's a beautiful car, basically with no hesitation. My first day driving it, I thought the steering felt a little different, tight, and pulled to the left and right and very hard to keep it going straight. I thought to myself, well it's a brand new car and has to be broken in a little maybe. About 500 miles in, problem didn't go away, took it to the dealer, they inspected the alignment, said alignment was ok, but the psi in tires was a little off and that it should fix the issue. Nothing has changed. Week later I took it in again. Was told everything is up to spec, and was told I am the first person to report this kind of issue with the car. I go home that night and google Optima steering problem...the search engine goes nuts!!! this is a issue with the Optima since 2011!!! I'm a truck driver and I can barely steer this car!!! how can this be safe on the roads"?" there is thousands of complaints of this exact problem!! when my wife drives it she tells me she can't even take a drink of her soda because she has to pay so much attention to holding the wheel straight!! I feel the same way!! come on Kia!!! come on D.O.T. it's only just a matter of time before this car causes a serious accident!! obviously the electronic power steering isn't safe!! so recall it!!

- New Berlin, WI, USA

problem #13

Jun 092012

Optima 4-cyl

  • 50 miles


Vehicle hard to control and steer straight, especially at highway speeds. Severe pull to the left, though occasionally it drifts to the right. At city speeds, the steering problem is not as noticeable. I took the car to the dealer, and they checked the alignment. Minor adjustments, and tire inflation change, resulted in no significant change in the remains severe. If you let go of the steering wheel, then the car swiftly move across to the left lanes.

- Danville, CA, USA

problem #12

Apr 152012


  • 8 miles
Brand new vehicle pulled to right and also drifted left to right at 8 miles on highway with a speed of 55. I though all that it needed was a simple alignment I took it back to the dealer at just under 3000 miles and the tech drove it and told me it was fine I just need to get used to it. This car did not drive like the 2 that I had driven before I purchased it. The tech did an alignment and said the rear wheel was off from the factory. The car still did the same thing it felt loose and drifted on highway and straitways. I took it to another dealer that day and the tech drove it for 30 seconds and noticed the steering is was not right.he spent a great deal of time performing an alignment and once I drove it was fine. There was a slight pull to the right but most cars do have that. The tech gave me a print out of the alignment and the front camber was not to factory settings he told me that he could not adjust it. After driving 700 miles later the loose feeling and the drifting returned. I have contacted the original dealer again and I am hoping for a resolution soon.

- Hull, MA, USA

problem #11

May 292012

Optima 4-cyl

  • 1 miles
The vehicle steering seems tight which is fine, but when accelerating between 30-45 mph the vehicle veers off to the left. I am reading that this is not normal for this vehicle. This is an issue and I believe needs to be fixed.

- West Mifflin, PA, USA

problem #10

May 212012

Optima 4-cyl

  • 2,204 miles
Brand new Kia Optima has steering drift (diffuculty driving in a straight line). Dealer indicated typical of electronic steering and did nothing but check alignment. Very unnerving and dangerous. Condition still exists.

- New Smyrna Beach, FL, USA

problem #9

May 262012


  • 100 miles
Constant correction of the steering wheel is needed to keep the car on the road. I have been on line and have found many complaints on this issue. Will be going back to dealer but based on everything I have read I don't expect this to be resolved. I am sure this an electronic steering issue and I believe a recall is warranted.

- Daphne, AL, USA

problem #8

Feb 012012

Optima 4-cyl

  • miles
I bought Kia Optima 2012 in month of January 2012. Since I own vehicle I notice that car is steering to it's left side. I called dealer and reported this issue. Dealer suggests issue is because of electronic control system. I noticed this problem since I own and dealer advise that it should go away after few thousand miles. In my opinion this is dangerous and must be adversely effecting to tires and other steering mechanism components.

- Lawrenceville, GA, USA

problem #7

Apr 192012


  • 50 miles
Immediately after purchase we noticed an obvious issue with steering - not able to keep control of the car, veering to the left or right, taxing and exhausting effort to just drive the car. Called dealership and was told that it was something we'd have to get used to due to the new electronic steering. After a couple of days, we were tempted to take the car back due to being "tired" from driving home each day! after talking with a neighbor who has the same car, he said he had the exact same problem and took it back to the dealership. He said they did some type of special wheel balancing and it fixed the problem. Decided to take the car back for a check. Asked about tire rotation or alignment check. Service cross-rotated the tires and it drives better, but is still a very different drive.

- Cibolo, TX, USA

problem #6

Apr 282012

Optima 4-cyl

  • 125 miles
I just purchased a brand new 2012 Optima from a dealer in coral springs, fla. Other than one important problem, I love this car. Here is the important safety issue: When you get over 40mph, the car will not go straight- it continues to move out of the lane you are driving in. No matter how small of a steering correction you make- when you hold the steering "completely still"- the car still moves to the left, then to the right when you inch it back- the car steering mechanism seems to not let the car travel straight ahead. The steering will not keep the car going straight, so this is a safety issue because the car keeps automatically taking you out of your lane!!! when I was on the fla turnpike heading home from the dealer today, this situation must have occurred a hundred times. I have owned more than 50 cars over the years, of all makes and sizes- and this issue has never occurred before. I hope you can help get this "safety issue" resolved asap. I will go back to the dealer tomorrow to discuss the problem. Thank you.

- Wellington, FL, USA

problem #5

Apr 142012

Optima 4-cyl

  • 320 miles
The electric assist power steering has failed while driving multiple times leaving the driver with reduced control of the vehicle due to the extreme effort required to steer the vehicle. Indicator lights include traction control, eps and tco. Power steering can be restored by shutting down the car and restarting. Dealer's first attempt to correct after three instances of failure and reset involved calibration of the steering indicator. This lasted approximately 200 miles. Subsequent failure reported to dealer and the vehicle is currently there being diagnosed for the second time.

- Macon, GA, USA

problem #4

Apr 192012


  • 150 miles
Car is very hard to keep control on the road. Kia dealership says it is the way the new electronic control works. On acceleration, car steers to left into oncoming traffic, and it takes much effort to keep it going straight on road. On the highway it feels as if the wind is blowing it around on the road. It also makes a pull to the left or right on its own.

- Pittsburgh , PA, USA

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