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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 1 of 5)

problem #83

Jan 012016


  • 56,000 miles


The steering column clunks when turning left or right, parked or when driving, it has a big gap (play) that makes a clunking noise when turning the wheel left or right. The gap and clunking noise is getting worse.

- Kathleen, GA, USA

problem #82

Jan 172016


  • miles
There an awful clicking/clunking sound coming from steering wheel when you turn or hit a bump/cross tracks..been told has something to do with flexible coupling inside steering wheel vehicle is always in motion when this happens car only has 100600. Miles it doesn't matter if in city or other highways

- Douglasville, GA, USA

problem #81

Sep 272016


  • 44,000 miles
While driving vehicle and making a turns steering wheel began to make a loud thunk. When parking whether turning left or right car makes loud thunk. Called Kia and they said they've been having problems with the flex coupling.

- Plano, TX, USA

problem #80

Mar 012016


  • 60,000 miles


Gear or bearing defective in steering column.excessive motion, play and noise when operating vehicle. Contacted dealer but there has not been any recall regarding this problem. Dealer service dept. Quoted repair to be approximately 300 dollars. When is Kia going to recall vehicles with this malfunction ?

- Rome, GA, USA

problem #79

May 182016


  • miles
I took my car to get a oil change and the guy that was moving the car was so worried about the steering. He stated that I needed to get it serviced at the Kia dealership asap. The steering seems to be clicking and when I hit a small dip or pothole in the road it clicks and sounds like the whole front end is coming off. I was told that this is not covered by the warranty with the vehicle which I think is crazy. I could see if it was something that I did I would take care of that repair. However there are a lot of other people that are having this same problem. I'm really thinking about trading in this vehicle and moving on to someone who does take care of their cars and customers. I was told that this is a common problem with these cars.

- Jacksonville, NC, USA

problem #78

Aug 102015


  • 54,000 miles
Steering wheel shakes, rattles, and clicks when turning. It sounds like something is loose. Going over any thing that is not level (ex. Railroad tracks, speed bumps etc) causes the steering wheel to rattle and shake also even if you are not speeding. It will occur in motion and even if the vehicle is in park, and off. I am not really sure what this issue is or what really caused it.

- Fayetteville, NC, USA

problem #77

Aug 072016


  • miles


When U driving it. U can here noise in the steering wheel. It had the oil light to pop on while driving on thr freeway put over. Put some oil in it. Then that night trying to crank it & it started to smoke & caught a fire.

- Brighton, AL, USA

problem #76

Jul 212016


  • miles
Loud clicking noise in steering while driving, hard to turn at times and very loud rattling while driving on rough roads. My daughter uses this car due to better gas milage than hers to go to college sometimes and I also carry my 2 year old granddaughter in this car and have had no problems before now and thought I purchased a safe car all around but being that nothing is getting done about this possible safety issue I am concerned. I would have recommended a Kia to anyone till now and now just not sure.

- Pollok, TX, USA

problem #75

Aug 012016


  • 47,499 miles
Steering wheel makes clicking/popping sound every time its moved in either direction. Also, when going over any speed bumps or holes, very loud clicking and tension felt in the steering wheel. I have been researching this issue and I have found that many customers have this issue and it seems like Kia has not done anything about it. I drive on the highway everyday for about 65 miles both ways. I am very concerned for my safety and passengers.

- Orlando, FL, USA

problem #74

Jul 222016


  • 60,000 miles
At 60K miles, steering has become difficult to maintain, steering column is loud and makes a popping noise, and now there is some type of clunk in the front suspension that can be heard when steering angle is being altered while simultaneously bridging a bump. Steering wheel sticks at speeds above 55mph, and thus over-steering is necessary in order to maintain tracking. Dealer informs me that some $4 plastic gear needs replacing somewhere, but that it will be $400 in labor to replace, but they can't even guarantee replacing this part will fix the issue. What a joke- this is my first and last Kia/Hyundai product.

- Saint Charles, IL, USA

problem #73

Jul 182016


  • miles


2012 Kia Optima LX ****(electronic power steering)****this is very unsafe and is an accident waiting to happen. What in the world is Kia waiting for, does someone have to be killed or seriously hurt from their negligence to recall these problems!!!! the steering wheel started to make a loud popping/knocking noise, sticks, play/ very loose when turning left to right, while driving or parking the vehicle. Have taken it to a service center where it was diagnosed that the steering column, tie rod and flexible coupling needed to be repaired/ replaced. The manufacturer was not made aware of the failure and the vehicle has not been repaired as of yet. The failure mileage was approximately 242,000. However, I purchased the vehicle in 2014, the approximately mileage was 208,412. Just prior to that this vehicle was strickley used for fuel testing/studies only, in a climate control building, where it was on a dino machine. These problems need to have a resolution and be recalled asap.

- Quinton, VA, USA

problem #72

Jul 082016


  • miles
Steering is knocking and making loud noises while driving vehicle. Have not yet taken to dealership, but from reading other complaints Kia has not acted on this problem for a resolution.

- Houston, TX, USA

problem #71

Jun 012016


  • 98,000 miles
The contact owns a 2012 Kia Optima. While driving approximately 5 mph making a left or right turn, the steering wheel made an abnormal noise without warning. The vehicle was taken to a dealer where it was diagnosed that the steering column failed and needed to be replaced. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was not made aware of the failure. The failure mileage was approximately 98,000.

- Rocky Mountain, NC, USA

problem #70

May 022016


  • miles
Play in steering column making a noise when turn steering wheel right and left defective flex coupler

- Stuart, FL, USA

problem #69

May 012016


  • miles
While the vehicle is in motion, the steering has become very loose and making a clunking noise when turning the wheel or going over slight bumps, such as a reflector in the road, this is during any speeds.

- Winter Haven, FL, USA

problem #68

May 052016


  • miles
While driving on the highway we started hearing a popping noise coming from the steering wheel and there also has bee some slack in the steering wheel.

- Oakdale, LA, USA

problem #67

Apr 122016


  • 73,853 miles
The contact owns a 2012 Kia Optima. The contact stated that while the driver was driving at 65 mph, the steering wheel began to shake violently with a loud noise. The contact coasted over to the side of the road. The contact was able to resume driving. The failure recurred twice. The vehicle was taken to a dealer where it was diagnosed that there was wear and tear in the steering and needed to be repaired. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was not notified of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 73,853.

- Palm Beach Garden, FL, USA

problem #66

Dec 012015


  • miles
Clicking noise and pulling when I turn or hit a bump in the road. Sounds like my steering would come apart. Lots of play in the steering wheel. Very unsafe. I drive the interstate to work everyday and I am normally traveling between 70 and 75. I fear my car is an accident waiting to happen with the defective steering.

- Houma, LA, USA

problem #65

Mar 112016


  • 76,020 miles
I have had my (2012) Kia Optima since 2012. I have not had any horrible problems until now. The steering wheel clicks and you can hear and feel any bumps because when you even hit a small hole in the road the steering wheel will also click and make a loud noise. I have not had any work or repairs done to the car other than the normal oil changes, tire rotation, new tires and alignment, brake replacement. I have taken care of my vehicle and to be told that the steering wheel clicking is something that isnT covered or that no one is looking into for a recall is something I donT understand. I have always backed Kia and even bought 2 for my kids, but now I am starting to wonder about the quality of the car. I have read 63 other complaints with the same problems and still nothing from the company with a recall. I guess it takes someone getting killed or seriously injured to get something done about the steering. I could see if it was a interior light but wake up people there is a steering problem. How would you feel if it was you or someone that's close to you in a vehicle that has faulty steering and something happened to them.

- Jacksonville, NC, USA

problem #64

May 132016


  • 40,000 miles
While steering at slow and high speeds the steering wheel makes a loud knocking noise that can be heard and felt. The steering wheel often gets stuck and requires additional force to get it to move. The steering wheels sometimes jerks itself and oversteers in the direction I'm turning it in. It started about a month ago and was happening intermittently but now it's happening all the time.

- Scottsdale, AZ, USA

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