definitely annoying
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
38,821 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 drivetrain problems

drivetrain problem

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2011 Kia Optima Owner Comments

problem #13

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 #12

Apr 152016


  • 33,000 miles
Shortly after test driving and buying a used 2011 Kia Optima LX, we began experiencing an intermittent engine hesitation problem when accelerating at low speeds. It may not occur for many miles of slow-and-go traffic but, when it happens, it is shocking because the engine feels like it is going to completely die for up to 3 or 4 seconds. This can be very dangerous while turning onto a busy highway or crossing a high speed intersection.I this hesitation problem will occur at random regardless of whether the engine or the weather is cold or warm. We left this car at a Kia dealer for several days but they were unable to determine the cause of the engine hesitation problem. The engine has hesitated several times in the past month.

- Little Elm, TX, USA

problem #11

Mar 252016


  • 76,250 miles
When putting the car in gear, it would jerk really hard like I had hit something. At first it only did it once or twice within a month so it was hard to duplicate. Recently it started getting consistent. It would jerk hard when putting it in gear or park. Also going down the road it shifted really had like something was slipping. It didn't matter if it was in the morning or afternoon. Twice this week, it did it each time I went somewhere. The shifts were sometimes shorter and more often. It felt like it was maybe slipping or needed fluid. I took it in and determined it was the transmission temperature sensor. They replaced trany temp sensor, code P0711. There was no code on the dash, they had to check it in the transmission. It worked.

- Va Beach, VA, USA

problem #10

Feb 222016


  • 92,000 miles


My Kia Optima (2011) had started a ticking engine noise at around 90K mark and now it's escalated to a lower end was told by service departmenta T about 92K it was normal noise of camshaft and I only noticed it under loads and higher elevation on overpasses. I have been using mobil1, fully synthetic motor oils and a K&N oil filters. This last week I have noticed that it was getting louder.and from the engine compartment. I asked the Hyundai dealership that my wife's 2015 Hyundai Santa Fe sport was gettingi ts oil changed@ and yes with mobil1, and they told me about a recall on the motor plant in Alabama that supplies the engines of both for those years models had an metallic fragments left un engine at manufacturer of engine and has issued a recall. So I called Kia consumer products department and they apparently have hidden behind the relocation to the Georgia plant and said that my car is Korean duh so that means that the engine is Korean. When I called dealership and machine shops both have same parts just a different part # so it will avoid a recall but that is splitting up the division of brands not the place where my Kia engine was made in Alabama and so was the sonatas. Just different numbers. Corporate governance needs to step in and take out the blatant disregard for the law and order of faithful owner's of the Kia and Hyundai vehicles. I have not heard from Kia and im in need of the nhsta to get involved. And do an investigation into the Hyundai and Kia motor plants recall for you and me the consumer products safety commission next step I guess.

- San Antonio, TX, USA

problem #9

May 042014

Optima 4-cyl

  • 29,500 miles
On 5-4-14 I was driving from Wisconsin when we decided to stop at wal-mart, while we were waiting for a person to move out of its parking spot, my Optima start to accelerate even when I had my foot in the brake, my first reaction was to move the gear shift to neutral and then the engine start racing up the RPM were very fast (was in neutral), at the moment a lady and her small kid were crossing in front of my car, god knows what it would happened if I wouldn't move the gear to neutral. This is the third time last year it did the same thing in July when I was at the stop sign, the second time was this year in January when I came back home from work then I was parking when the car starting accelerating but I was holding up with concrete bar on the ground that is in my parking lot, at that time I shut the engine off, but it was not much of concern because I was not driving the car in the street. Next day (5-5-14) took the car to the dealer, and they contacted Kia to report this issue, on May 7 at 4:20 pm a gentleman from Kia his name was [xxx] called me to get some information about this sudden acceleration and told him everything that happened and gave a case #2706364, then on 5-7-14 another gentleman from Kia corporation called me, his name [xxx], and told me that he is in charge of my case now and will call me to let me know about the outcome of this, well he didn't call so I called him back on 5-15-14, (10 days later), he told me he was waiting for the dealership to call him, I went to the dealer and I was informed by ed the service manager that they were doing some tests, he called me later saying that he talked to [xxx] in Kia corporation and he gave 11 point of inspection to do. Situation should be investigated by NHTSA to avoid any future incidents that could cause some serious injuries or fatalities. Information redacted pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(B)(6).

- Harwood Hts, IL, USA

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problem #8

May 102013

Optima 4-cyl

  • 12,500 miles
Sudden acceleration! happened approximately 6 months ago and again on May 10th. Going slowly towards a stop sign while braking to stop, the car suddenly accelerates and lunges forward. Stepped on the brake but car keeps going. Put shift lever in neutral with engine racing and after about 2 seconds the engine slowly drops to idle. No accidents caused because no one was in front of me. Very dangerous situation! took car to the dealer on May 15th and they could find no codes present and said the vehicle was operating as designed.

- Ft Myers , FL, USA

problem #7

Aug 312012


  • 35,627 miles


I have a 2011 Kia Optima LX, one night while driving home from work aloud boom sound with a jerk of the car and all power was gone at once. There was nothing, lights out, in and out and no acceleration, then after about 10 seconds all power returned, before and after this there was no warning of any kind, it has happened a total of three times so far.2nd time at an intersection and the 3rd time in heavy traffic, the only way I got out of traffic the car coasted, all the while steering was very hard, had to be towed to the dealership because power did not return. While they were about to check, once again the power returned all on its own in front of them, they run diagnostics, still not showing anything, so they keep giving me no answers, and putting me back into fear. 4 other repairs was made before these last 3 recurring incidents ;vehicle would not shut off with removal of the key; horns quit working; brake light switch, because could not get car into gear; fuse to the phone charger. Back to the shut downs the service techs.said they don't know what to fix! and the Kia Corp. Stand behind the same answer. They know how to make these cars what's wrong with fixing these problems especially electrical issues like this! I suggest to anyone who's reading this don't buy a Kia of anykind!

- Pageland, SC, USA

problem #6

Jul 042012


  • 36,000 miles
The contact owns a 2011 Kia Optima. While driving approximately 40 mph, the transmission exhibited a jerking motion and failed to respond when engaging the accelerator pedal. The rpms began to increase rapidly. The contact was able to maneuver to the side of the road. Upon restarting, the vehicle resumed normally for a short period and the failure recurred. The failure occurred three times. The vehicle was taken to an authorized dealer three times for the identical failure and they were unable to duplicate or locate the problem. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 36,000.

- Riverside, CA, USA

problem #5

Jun 272012

Optima 4-cyl

  • 13,250 miles
This is update to ODI #10453907. Optima hybrid still experiencing power loss problems. Latest is at cold start, when it starts in ev mode, system indicates ready, shift into reverse or drive, car doesn't move. If we turn it off and re-start it, it operates normally. When this happens, dash icon indicates hybrid system malfunction. At re-start light goes off. Dealer can find no trouble codes stored.

- Marathon, NY, USA

problem #4

Jun 042012

Optima 4-cyl

  • 11,000 miles
Sometime around June 4, on an expressway at 70 mph, it felt like I had hit something. There was a violent slam in the front of the car. I pulled the car to the side of the expressway to see if I had hit something. After seeing that I had not hit anything, I got back in the car to get back on the expressway. I put the car in gear and tried to accelerate and the car would hardly move as though it were starting off in a high gear. I drove toward the next exit at 55 mph at around 3500 RPM and it felt as though the vehicle never shifted gears. When I got off the next exit to return home, the vehicle did not shift into low, it stayed in a high gear. I drove home in one gear and got home to back into the garage, and when I shifted the car into reverse, it slammed into gear. I parked and went inside for the evening intent on getting the dealer to send a wrecker for the vehicle in the morning. I got up the next morning to see if the car was still acting the same way. I started the car up and it drove perfect, shifting through all of the gears as it was supposed to behave. We took it to the dealer and they supposedly found the problem and we left with our "repaired" vehicle. On June 26, while driving the car at 50 mph on a surface street, the same "slam" happened in the front of the car, frightening my wife. She then pulled to the side of the road, stopped the car, and shut it off. She restarted the car and it shift as it was supposed to. She came back home, parked the car in the garage and called the dealer. She started the car on June 27 to go to the dealer, went down the road approximately 3 miles and the same event occurred. She pulled over, restarted the car and drove to the dealer. They now have the car and say they are going to replace the transmission at 12000 miles.

- Cataula, GA, USA

problem #3

Dec 132011

Optima 4-cyl

  • 2,200 miles


After 1-2 miles of driving after cold start, engine continues to rev up but car come to rolling stop. As if no power is being transferred from engine to transmission/drive system. Then turn car off for a minute, restart and car runs okay. Dash icon indicates trouble with hybrid system. Has happened multiple times since first incident. Dealer finds nothing wrong. Causes an extreme hazard when it happens in traffic.

- Marathon, NY, USA

problem #2

Jan 222012

Optima 4-cyl

  • 19,750 miles
I have a 2011 Kia Optima ex, with the navigation package. I had a strange incident which I would like to report. After driving for 15 minutes, I placed the transmission in park and the car immediately began to rev very high. I put my foot firmly on the brake and shifted in to neutral, but it kept revving very high, so I put it in drive and it still revved very high-- roaring. I put the car in park again and turned the engine off. Started it again 5 seconds later and immediately the engine roared revving very high. Turned off the engine again and then it started normally. My foot was firmly on the brake the whole time and there were no objects touching the accelerator.

- Montvale, NJ, USA

problem #1

Apr 112011


  • 3,600 miles
On 4/11/11, we were driving to work and had gone four miles from our house, when we thought we had hit a deer! the car made a very loud sound and lurched violently, at highway speed, frightening us both. The lurching was so violent that it may well have caused other damage. We were extremely fortunate not to have crashed. We then found that the car would not shift gear. The transmission had gone out of our 2011 Kia Optima ex. We bought the Kia new at O┐brien auto park in champaign, Illinois, on 1/8/11. The car had 3600 miles on it at the time of the catastrophic failure. This was our first Kia purchase, and we are very disappointed. Needless to say, we were shocked by this dangerous occurrence! we very easily could have had tragic consequences for us and our fellow commuters. We are no longer confident in this vehicle. We find this totally unsatisfactory and asked Kia to replace our vehicle with an identical one. Kia refused, basically saying ┐we don┐T own it anymore┐. they did replace the transmission.

- Sidney, IL, USA

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