2012 Kia Optima engine NHTSA complaints: Engine And Engine Cooling

NHTSA — Engine And Engine Cooling Problems


fairly significant
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
18,571 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

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2012 Kia Optima Owner Comments

problem #5

Jul 092015


  • 41,400 miles


I was stopped at a stoplight on a small street when a very loud hissing noise started coming from my air conditioner vents. As I accelerated through the intersection, the hissing noise got quieter, but as I stopped at the next intersection, it got louder. By the time I pulled into a nearby parking lot and stopped, my air conditioner was no longer blowing cold. The heat index is currently well over 100 degrees here, so driving home with no air could be very dangerous to many, especially if we had taken the car out of town, as we were intending to do just a few days later. Luckily, I was close to home and did not have my children with me, so I was able to endure the ride home, but others may not be so fortunate. After returning from my out of town trip (for which I had to use another car), I took my car to the dealership, who said originally that fixing a broken A/C was under warranty, but then he returned and said a rock or debris had put a hole in my condenser, and it would not be covered by my warranty. Instead, I would need to file an insurance claim or pay almost $900. I emphasized that this happened as I was sitting still at a small intersection, not while driving at a high speed. He claimed that it is possible it could've happened earlier but was just then under enough pressure to push through the hole. I have found hundreds of Kia owners online with supposed "punctured compressors" that couldn't see the puncture or couldn't explain when or how it could have happened, and many in cars owned for less than a year. Kia has been receiving complaints about this since at least 2011 and refused to cover it in the warranty. This could be prevented with a cheap wire mesh to protect the compressor, but they have instead chosen to get paid $800+ each time it happens and leave customers vulnerable to being stranded in 100+ degree heat with no A/C due to faulty design.

- North Little Rock, AR, USA

problem #4

Jul 082015


  • 38,000 miles
The contact owns a 2012 Kia Optima. While driving approximately 65 mph, the temperature gauge went to the hot side and smoke started to emit under the hood. The contact stated that the engine stalled. The vehicle was towed to a dealer where it was diagnosed that the coolant clamp on the radiator was not properly fitted, causing the engine to fail. The engine needed to be replaced. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure. The failure mileage was approximately 38,000.

- Winston-Salen, NC, USA

problem #3

Dec 072012


  • 9,600 miles
Strong smell of exhaust inside passenger area of car. Smell by 4 of 5 passengers. Car was a rental, so I do not know the VIN ore even the model year. With < 10,000 total vehicle miles, it may have been a 2012. I did find this note online regarding a similar problem wtih Hyundai sonata, that may or not be related. ( fyi-my 2011 sonata smells like exhaust inside the cab of the car unless I keep the button pushed for "inside air circulation". I called the dealer and as it turns out, this is a common problem with this model. A hose has to be replaced on the exhaust system.Hyundai is aware of the problem because many people have complained about the same issue.

- Davis, CA, USA

problem #2

Dec 252011

Optima 4-cyl

  • 200 miles
I was driving the vehicle on city streets with the check engine light on, when all of a sudden during a turn in an intersection the engine shut off. The car stopped in the middle of the intersection and I could not restart the engine though the vehicle had power. I had to exit the vehicle and manually push it to safety through the intersection and to the curb on the other side. I was safe during this incident only because it was a small intersection with little traffic. If the problem had occurred in a major intersection or on the freeway, then my safety could have been in serious jeopardy. The dealership fixed a bad coil and some bad wire in the spark plug, but they are not confident on what the origin of the problem was even after speaking with Kia technicians. Yet they have asked me to take the car and continue to drive it to see if it happens again. I don't believe that this is a minor problem and if it happens again this problem could possibly cause major injury or bodily harm. I do not feel safe continuing to drive this vehicle without extensive testing so I have asked Kia for a replacement vehicle (car only had 200 miles on it when incident occurred) but they have refused to do so.

- Downey, CA, USA

problem #1

Dec 062011


  • 3,653 miles
The contact owns a 2012 Kia Optima. The contact was driving approximately 60 mph when the front driver side rear view mirror detached from the housing. On a separate occasion while driving, there was a reduction in the engine power and immediately the vehicle stalled. The engine restarted and the contact was able to resume normally. The vehicle was taken to an authorized dealer who stated a rock struck the mirror which caused the detachment and they refused to repair the vehicle at their expense. The technician was unable to detect a trouble code for the engine malfunction. The vehicle had not been repaired. The manufacturer was made aware of the problem. The approximate failure mileage was 3,653. The VIN was unavailable.

- Little Elm, TX, USA

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