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definitely annoying
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
29,612 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 Hybrid drivetrain problems

drivetrain problem

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2012 Kia Optima Hybrid Owner Comments

problem #4

Mar 282016

Optima Hybrid

  • 86,000 miles


Approaching a stop light, the automatic transmission started downshifting. As it went through each gear there was a short pause followed by a jerking car motion. Accelerating through the intersection, the engine started to rev like the clutch was out on the transmission. As I was on a busy state highway, this put me in danger of being hit. I managed to pull my car onto a side street, and the transmission continued to behave in this manner. There were no warning lights on the dash, or any sort of indication there was a problem with the car. I put the shifter into manual mode, and found that I could control the gear shifts well enough to get the car to the dealer. After 3 days at the dealer, they tried a reset to the relearn system and updates to the ECM/ECU as suggested by Kia. The problem remained. Now they are talking about replacing the transmission, but Kia cannot tell them when the transmissions will be available. The dealer has another car that has already been waiting for more than 3 weeks to have the transmission replaced. Failing transmissions are a serious safety issue, and when drivers have no warning that the system is failing it makes it even worse. The lack of available transmissions would indicate to me that they have a known problem that should be investigated.

- Brush Prairie, WA, USA

problem #3

Feb 202015

Optima Hybrid

  • 0 miles
We first took it to edwards Kia in council bluffs, ia on 2/11/15. When I originally took it to them, the service engine light had just come on and the car had just started doing the lunging and hesitating when shifting in lower gears. It was as if the accelerator was sticking. They downloaded a couple updates and turned the service engine light off. They advised the light came on because of the update that was needed and said that the shifting /idling issue was better. As soon as I drove it, I noticed it was still doing the same thing. On 2/23/15 I took it back in and they advised that there were two parts to the download and that they had put the second part on and thought it was better. They also gave me a Kia tech support sheet on how to address the problem. This included warming the car up for 10-15 minutes, driving with the eco on the start of the trip, and to depress the accelerator 10 % more. They advised that was the nature of the hybrid vehicle in the cold weather but it didn't do it the year before. We then took the car to H&H Kia in omaha, ne on 3/3/15 and the car is still there 7 weeks later. They have replaced the transmission twice with remanufactured transmissions. I am not sure why they wouldn't put a new one in since the car only has $19,663 miles on it. The have replaced the generator now and still hasn't fixed the problem. The car still isn't showing any codes on the computer and they are waiting for the Kia "experts" to arrive. I have not had my car for 8 weeks and they want me to take the car home until the experts arrive but I do not feel safe with it lunging and shifting erratic like it is.

- Carter Lake, IA, USA

problem #2

Jun 302014

Optima Hybrid 4-cyl

  • 18,000 miles
While trying to accelerate, the car randomly has a 2-3 second delay before action. When the problem occurs, the car will coast out into traffic, which may be moving at high speeds. This leaves me exposed to getting hit on a frequent, but irregular basis, and I am afraid to drive the vehicle. The car can also have jerky motions and lunges when accelerating from a stop on an incline, posing a danger to pedestrians and cars nearby.

- Georgetown, TX, USA

problem #1

Nov 042013

Optima Hybrid 4-cyl

  • 14,450 miles
This car severely hesitates/stalls after coming to a stop at intersections (red lights, stop signs, yield signs, and etc). Car hesitates/stalls for 2-3 seconds before accelerating while at a dead stop. This has causes several near accidents and scares to my family, friends, and myself. This morning, I pushed the gas pedal to the floor and the car did not accelerate/respond until 2-3 seconds later. This is serious and dangerous problem, while pulling out into traffic incoming cars can close the safety gap quickly in 2-3 seconds. Cold weather causes the car to hesitate/stall more often than warmer weather. I urge the federal government to step in and force Kia to find solution to this problem before this issue cause a fatality. Fuel economy is another issue in this car (hybrid), I typically donżżT get the estimated 35 mpg/city that the dealership sold me on, it is usually 28-30 mpg/city.

- Fayetteville , NC, USA

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