really awful
Crashes / Fires:
1 / 5
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
59,768 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 engine problems

engine problem

Find something helpful? Spread the word.
Get notified about new defects, investigations, recalls & lawsuits for the 2012 Kia Optima:

Unsubscribe any time. We don't sell/share your email.

2012 Kia Optima Owner Comments (Page 1 of 3)

problem #46

Mar 172014


  • 40,000 miles


The contact owns a 2012 Kia Optima. The contact stated that there was excessive smoke and a premature build up of engine sludge. The vehicle was taken to the dealer more than twice for diagnostic testing and advised that the motor be replaced. The vehicle was taken to a mechanic for inspection. The manufacturer provided no solution to prevent the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 40,000.

- Powder Springs, GA, USA

problem #45

Nov 012016


  • 80,000 miles
I bought my 2012 Kia Optima used with 68K miles on it in March 2016. I have had the car for about 8 months and it now has 80K miles. The car consumes a lot of oil. I have given the car 4 oil changes since purcgase and have not seen where it may be leaking oil underneath the car. When accelerating, there are times when they car will stall from a lack of power and I will hear a ticking sound when it stalls. After doing some research, I have found where this is a common complaint with this, and other Kia models', motor. This is my only transportation to and from work. I have had the car for 8 months and had to finance the entire cost. If my car's symptoms are synonymous with the other complaints, I suspect my motor will be done with in the near future and I absolutely cannot afford to repair or replace a new motor!

- Washington, IN, USA

problem #44

Oct 172016


  • 85,000 miles
The contact owns a 2012 Kia Optima. While driving at a low speed, the engine blew out without warning. The dealer diagnosed that there were turbo issues with the vehicle. The manufacturer was not notified. The failure mileage was 85,000.

- Fairmont, WV, USA

problem #43

Oct 112016


  • 74,668 miles


I was driving home from work at a speed of 45 mph when I heard some knocking. As I slowed to an intersection the noise stopped until I accelerated once again. Got back up to 40-45 mph and all the engine lights came on and the car stalled. I was able to coast to the side of the road I was on during rush hour. Not real safe! at which point the car started smoking and smelling like an electrical fire. I opened the hood and white smoke was pouring out. The vehicle was then towed to Kia dealership and the service department was already closed. I called in the morning and asked about the electrical smell. He said is most likely a blown motor."?? he didn't look at the vehicle yet and told me it's a blown rod in the motor?" later that day I stopped into the Kia dealership to see if it was looked at yet. They told me it won't be looked at until tomorrow. He did say that he went out to see if it would start and said it didn't turn over and he can guarantee it's the blown rod. That's without a mechanic looking at it. Kia knows these engines are crap and is choosing to give people the run around. I am the original owner of the car and he first couldn't find me in the computer. That was the first thing I showed him when I walked in the door was my copy from the dealership. All of a sudden he found me in the system. He also said since I service the car's oil myself I have to provide all the records when I purchased oil and filters otherwise the 100K warranty would be void. We don't keep the receipts of all that for 4 years! it's factory defect just like the Hyundai sonata's.this is obviously a known issue and it's sad that Kia is putting the blame on the customers instead of taking responsibility for a factory defect. No car with 74K miles on it with proper maintenance should have the engine just blow! my 2005 Suburban with 150K runs great! thanks, jeff

- Mokena, IL, USA

problem #42

Dec 172015


  • 42,069 miles
Back in December, while driving a 2012 Kia Optima LX, my steering wheel locked up and all of the caution lights came on the dash. The was no tapping coming from the engine until the car began to shut off. The check engine, low oil, fuel etc all came on and my steering wheel began to lock up. I was able to pull off to the side of a busy road. I could not start the car back up. I had the car towed to a local dealership where they stated there was no oil in the engine and there was sludge. I knew that I had maintained upkeep on the car. They stated they would not honor a replacement engine warranty. I had the car towed to our local garage. There I had a used engine installed in my car for a total cost of $4,300. I was able to drive the car. In April I received a notice/recall in the mail from Kia stating that there was a rod in the engine which caused the engine to lock up and shut down to immediately take my car to get that replaced. I had already put a used engine in. I was instructed to send all documentation to Kia for proof of an engine installed and all labor and costs done to my car out of my wallet and I would get reimbursed. Since then, I have had nothing but excuses and reasons why I shouldn't be receiving a reimbursement. There should be no reason I need to provide any documentation but I provided a highlighted checking account statement for proof of purchase of the engine, install of the engine, inspection and emissions, proof of purchase of the vehicle and towing records. The letter from Kia clearly states that I should have it repaired by them and not on my own dime. Unfortunately I had to take out a loan for the engine and install and had no vehicle until mid February when the used engine I ordered was installed. I still to this day am told I will not receive my reimbursement. I have attempted to continuously call Kia, only to be hung up on each time.

- Allentown, PA, USA

problem #41

Sep 202016


  • 96,789 miles
While driving approximately 65 mph on a highway, the engine shut down without warning. The vehicle was coasted to the side of the road but would not restart. It was towed to a mechanic who diagnosed a catastrophic engine failure. The shop maintained that the engine seized due to apparent improper oil change. The vehicle was purchased less than 30 days prior to the event. The vehicle was subsequently towed to a Kia dealership where they, too, were unable to manually turn the engine over. Kia service center removed the valve cover and found heavy sludge built up in engine causing it to fail and lock up. Kia motors of America denied claim due to lack of proper maintenance. However, Hyundai sonata engines were recalled due to metallic debris in engine which restricted oil flow and presented the same manifestations of engine sludge. Kia Optima sedans were built using engines manufactured at the plant cited in the Hyundai recall.

- Falls Church, VA, USA

problem #40

Aug 232016


  • 57,000 miles


While driving approximately 60 mph on the highway, I heard an abnormal engine noise and with no warning, my 2012 Optima stalled while being operated at a high speed. The entire indicator panel lit up. This all occurred in less than one minute. I was able to safely pull over on the shoulder, but I could have potentially caused a serious car accident. My 2 year old daughter was in the vehicle with me. The car would not restart, and was towed to the nearest dealer in wenatchee, wa. The diagnosis was complete engine failure as a result of fractured rod bearings. I bought this vehicle certified pre-owned in 2014 and catastrophic engine failure was unexpected. Records show routine maintenance every 3,000 miles. I believe this incident is a direct result of an engine oil defect that has been concealed by Kia.

- Redmond, WA, USA

problem #39

Sep 052016


  • 68,000 miles
Car has been maintained with regular oil changes every 3 to 5000 miles. Car was not giving any issues until two days ago when the engin shut off while driving. We restarted it and it was knocking loudly, sputtering and squealing. We towed it to a Kia dealer the following morning who ran diagnostics and said the engine is blown and full of sludge. They won't honor the warranty since we can't provide every single oil change receipt since the day we purchased the car. We did provide what we could as we lived in a few states with the car and didn't always use the same shop. The car was in motion when the vehicle just completely shut off without and warning lights.

- Deltona, FL, USA

problem #38

Aug 282016


  • 70,000 miles
The care staled at low speed pulled over side of road and smoke was coming from engine, opened the hood and fire had started at front top of engine under the air cleaner, some ware, has not been determined what caused it.

- Grants Pass, OR, USA

problem #37

Aug 202016


  • 94,000 miles
The contact owns a 2012 Kia Optima. While driving approximately 65 mph, the engine shut down without warning. The vehicle was coasted to the side of the road and would not restart. The vehicle was towed to a mechanic. It was diagnosed that the engine seized and needed to be replaced. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was not notified. The approximate failure mileage was 94,000.

- Falls Church, VA, USA

problem #36

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 #35

Aug 032016


  • 75,000 miles
I was driving straight on the interstate at 70 mph when the car lost the ability to accelerate and started making a knocking sound. I pulled the car over and shut it off. Tried to restart and it immediately shut off. The oil light flashed a few times and that was it. The car had 75,000 miles with 30,000 put on within the one year I have owned it.

- Stoughton, WI, USA

problem #34

Feb 112016


  • 69,000 miles
While driving 45 mph down the highway, car stalled, towed to dealership where they claimed there was sludge in engine and would not replace, called Kia who stated that we would have to get all service records from day 1 or they would not cover. I brought this car brand new and while I have most service records from 2013 on, I do not have any from before that because our house burnt down in April 2014, now its been 5 months since my car broke down and my 2 choices are, save up 5K while still paying for the car or pay for a very expensive paper weight that doesn't even fit in my house. Kia is going to kill someone if they don't take action!

- Wilmington, DE, USA

problem #33

Jul 222016


  • 71,560 miles
While driving on interstate at roughly 75 mph, car stalled. Would start up but heard loud knocking sound. Car was towed to nearest repair shop. After diagnostic, was told engine rod blew at 71,560 miles. Called Kia Corp office and was told that there was an engine recall, Kia picked up the car and towed it to the nearest dealership. Next day, we called to get a status and the Kia is unable to locate any record of the phone call and now saying that there is no recall for the engine. Not sure what to do at this time. Car was purchase less than 3 years ago. New engine is estimated at $6,000.

- Canton, GA, USA

problem #32

Jul 222016


  • 110,000 miles
Engine cut off passing someone traveling at 70 mph. Engine seized with 110,000 miles on it. Towed it to dealer. All maintenance was performed timely. Because the dealership had performed all maintenance Kia is replacing engine. Kia knows of the problem with this engine that is why warranty was extended for this issue. This is a huge safety problem. Hyundai recalled their cars with this engine. When I picked up my rental car there were three rentals out for the exact same reason. I am glad I was driving instead of one of my daughters or my wife. I am glad I wasn't passing another car on a two lane road when this happened. Kia needs to fix this before someone gets killed.

- Warner Robins, GA, USA

problem #31

Jul 202016


  • 44,935 miles
The contact owns a 2012 Kia Optima. While driving 65 mph, the vehicle stalled and the instrument panel failed. The vehicle failed to restart. The vehicle was towed to the dealer, but was not diagnosed or repaired. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure. The failure mileage was 44,935. Updated 09/30/16

- Hudson, MA, USA

problem #30

Jun 082016


  • 80,800 miles
Driving approx. 45mph on a busy city street, vehicle suddenly began to decelerate and a rattling noise began getting louder and louder from under the hood and finally engine completely cut off and would not start again. While attempting to get over to a safe area which happened to be the turning lane, the car rolled to a complete stop. With my family in the car with me, I had to push the vehicle over to prevent from being hit due to the vehicle stalling and the back end of vehicle was still in way of on coming traffic. After being towed to a service center, I was notified that the rod bearings seized up and my only option was engine replacement. Vehicle with such low mileage should not need engine replacement.

- San Antonio, TX, USA

problem #29

Apr 152016


  • 110,000 miles
Driving the vehicle through an intersection at approximately 45 mph and engine just shut down/off. Thankfully, we were able to pull to the side of the road. Had the vehicle towed to a Kia dealership. Service dept had the vehicle for 2 days and weren't able to diagnose the cause or problem but notified me that I had metal shavings in the engine. They changed all fluids and reset the computer, so the vehicle would run, but when they test drove the vehicle, the tech said it still wasn't running smoothly. They said we needed a new engine for $7000, or else we could just drive the vehicle until it quit running. We drove the vehicle for about another 100 miles while trying to decide whether to repair or replace, and vehicle seemed to be running fine but then suddenly shut down again. We had purchased the 100,000 mile warranty, and vehicle was at 110,000 miles. We were able to show routine maintenance and oil changes. After researching, we realized that these are the same engines and same "metal shaving" problems that were found in the Hyundai sonatas, and Hyundai has issued a recall for vehicles under 10 yrs/120,000miles. Kia is having same problems from the online comments/reviews, but they haven't issued any recalls.

- Franklin, IN, USA

problem #28

May 302016


  • 111,700 miles
I was driving home on memorial day weekend from a nice visit with my family and when I was almost home I could hear clicking/tapping sound and the engine stalled on a major interstate. I was able to quickly restart and get to the shoulder. Started up again and took off but when I tried to accelerate to the flow of traffic, the car would not accelerate and was losing power. I was close to a Kia dealership and was able to milk it to the service garage. Upon inspection, they found metal shavings paired with a ton of copper on the valve timing solenoid. Crankshaft bearings are shot, causing low oil pressure, stalling and erratic behavior. Engine is toast! after doing some research I came across this: www.hyundaiproblems.com/trends/sonata-engine- failure. Same engine, same problems and Hyundai stands behind their product. I take great pride in my vehicle. I take it in for regular maintenance and oil changes. I am not at fault. I will be escalating this to the national team at Kia corporate office and Kia Consumer Affairs to get a case number as I feel they need to be held liable to pay for the engine.this is obviously a known issue and it's sad that Kia is putting the blame on the customers instead of taking responsibility for a factory defect. No car with 111K miles on it with proper maintenance should have the engine just blow! Kia not only put my life in danger but they also put my daughter's life in danger!! I'm lucky I was in the right place at the right time on a major interstate on memorial weekend or the results could have been much worse!! my daughter and I are ok, but I fear the next Kia Optima this happens to will not be a good outcome. Major safety issue and a recall should be instated.

- New Richmond, WI, USA

problem #27

Jun 032016


  • 127,000 miles
While driving home the car suddenly lost all power for no reason. Got the car jumped and it started but was sluggish. No indicating lights ever came on. Drove the car to work for the next 2 days (approx 450 miles) with no issues so I though it weird but a fluke. Two days later approximately 2 blocks from my house the car suddenly locked up for a split second (heard the tires chirp) but kept rolling. The car had no power, all lights, radio, etc stayed on but the engine was not running. I let the car coast into my driveway to park it. The car starts fine but the engine is definitely shot. Sounds like the connector rods are bent. Loud knocking and sometimes a squeal that sounds like metal on metal. Checked the oil and there was minimal oil but again no indicating lights ever came on. The car is only 4 years old with 127,000 mile but has always been maintained to Kia specs. Upside down on the loan already which I wouldn't have a problem with if the car ran. Now I owe on a loan for a car I can't drive.

- Palm Coast, FL, USA

Read the next 20 complaints »

Not what you are looking for?