really awful
Crashes / Fires:
2 / 1
Injuries / Deaths:
1 / 0
Average Mileage:
28,324 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 4 of 5)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #30

May 162012


  • 53 miles


I have had this vehicle for over 2 years now and have about 30,000 miles on it. I took this car to the dealership within a week after I bought it for problems with steering and it's inability to stay straight on the road without having to continually adjust the steering wheel. I was told that there was nothing they could find wrong with it. But after finding this website, I now understand that I am not the first one to have this issue. Recently I have had an issue with the air conditioner. It works fine when the car is driving but when it is stopped or idling, the air suddenly blows warm air and doesn't start to blow cold until a few seconds after the car has started moving.

- Henderson, NV, USA

problem #29

Oct 052011

Optima 4-cyl

  • miles
Vehicle is hard to hold straight at higher speeds. The steering locks into a position and requires extra effort to turn the wheel causing over correction. This causes mental and physical fatigue on longer trips and could cause an accident.

- Santa Clarita, CA, USA

problem #28

Jan 012012


  • 1,000 miles
The contact owns a 2012 Kia Optima. The contact stated that while driving 30 mph, the steering wheel became uncontrollable, causing the vehicle to sway abnormally. The contact mentioned that the vehicle became difficult to maneuver. The failure recurred several times. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The failure mileage was 1,000 and the current mileage was 24,000.

- Quartz Hill, CA, USA

problem #27

Mar 122014


  • 10,000 miles


Vehicle steering wheel control has abnormal nonfluent consistency. The driver has to continuously correct steering to continue to keep the vehicle traveling straight, otherwise vehicle will start to drift immediately. When correction is made to keep vehicle traveling straight, steering wheel has to be turned with more than normal force, which then results to a oversteering response due to the incapable of making a minor adjustment. This continues to make vehicle to drift from side to side excessively while driving which in turn can make the driver appear impaired or distracted. The problem is felt in the steering wheel causing the wheel to stick in place near center placement. For example, it is like riding a bike on pavement then transitioning to mud, one has to apply more peddling motion to get through the mud, and when they are back on pavement suddenly, they jump to an unexpected speed, faster then what they intended. This is how the steering reacts to minor adjustments that need extra force to unstick the steering wheel which concludes that the electric-assisted power steering is not functioning properly. The vehicle's air pressure in all 4 tires are equal and at 35psi, wheels are properly balanced alignment is at manufactures specifications. This problem did not exist when the car was bought new (because no one would buy a $30,000 car that does not drive straight) and just currently started to act up.

- Madison, WI, USA

problem #26

Feb 282014


  • 10,000 miles
At, highway speeds, the steering wheel seems to stick when making minor corrections. It is very annoying and tiring on the arms. Going around corners or bends in the road it seems fine though. It only happens at highway speeds making minor corrections in the lane. This is something Kia should take a serious look at because it seems like a lot of the complaints are around this issue. I put 10,000 miles but it has been happening since we bought the car new and it currently has 16,000. Have not had dealer look at it yet.

- Green Bay, WI, USA

problem #25

Dec 022013


  • 32,000 miles
The contact owns a 2012 Kia Optima. The contact stated that while driving at various speeds, the vehicle would sway from right to left. The vehicle was not taken to the dealer. The manufacturer was not made aware of the failure. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure and current mileage was 32,000.

- Coconut Creek , FL, USA

problem #24

Nov 222013


  • 20,200 miles


10549868 continued: Another way to describe the steering problem follows. When I move the steering wheel left to right, back and forth ever so slightly, all works fine. Steering is easy and takes little force to correct. If one was to measure the required force, it would be slight, lets say 2 units. When the steering wheel has been stationary for a couple of seconds, and I try to make a minor correction, the force required is much greater, lets say 12 units. So while driving and the car is drifting to the right of lane. Making the correction, overcoming the stuck feeling, the car starts to drift towards the left of lane. This back and forth process needs to be continuously performed, however, as speed increase, this process has to happen more often, causing fatigue in the arms and wrists and making the driving experience quite stressful. It?S as if the steering assist of the electric ps motor goes to sleep when the steering wheel is stationary, thus the added force required when making a minor correction is to wake the motor up. I am taking the car back to the dealer with these two descriptions of the steering problem. They will have the car for 4days at least.

- Chandler, AZ, USA

problem #23

Nov 202012

Optima 4-cyl

  • 10,350 miles
Most noticeable while driving on paved highways at mph over 45. Steering seems stuck near straight ahead position and when attempting to make minor correction to remain in lane, a slight over correction occurs due to getting past this sticky position. Of course the over correction requires another slight movement of the steering wheel, which again meets resistance, and so the over correction occurs again. Continuing this left and right movement of the car in the lane creates stressful driving at best, and painful wrists, at worst on long drives. When engine off and in a quiet location, moving the steering wheel, left and right regardless of steering wheel position or wheel position, you can both hear a slight snap and feel it when overcoming the stuck place. This problem is always present, however not as noticeable in local traffic or while actual turning around a bend for example. Dealer could not duplicate the problem last year, and hopefully when I take it in for the 20,000 mile check up, my more complete description of the problem should help. I did call the dealer about 6 months ago, and they sent me to someone higher up. His comment was that he gets many calls every day about this, and that it's the way it is.

- Chandler, AZ, USA

problem #22

Jan 112012


  • 10,000 miles
The contact owns a 2012 Kia Optima. The contact stated that while driving approximately 65 mph, the steering wheel suddenly became difficult to maneuver. The vehicle was taken to a dealer where the failure was unable to be replicated. The manufacturer was not notified of the failure. The vehicle was not repaired. The approximate failure mileage was 10,000 and the current mileage was 28,000. The VIN was not available.

- Phenix City, AL, USA

problem #21

Jul 022012

Optima 4-cyl

  • 10,000 miles
While drive above 45mph the car wonders left and right, making it very hard to keep the car on the road. It also feels like there is a catch in the steering making it very easy to over correct the car. I have had it into Kia to have the car looked at twice now. They have checked the alignment, tire pressure... they drove a salesman's car and a car off there lot and they tell me this is the way they all drive. I find this very hard to believe, (its a workout to keep the car on the road). I have been doing searches on the internet to try and find a solution for the problem, while doing this I have found a lot of other people that are having the same problem and are getting the same feedback from the dealers. From what I have found is its a known problem with the 2011, 2012, 2013 Kia Optima's.

- Earling, IA, USA

problem #20

Nov 122012

Optima 4-cyl

  • 18,000 miles


The contact owns a 2012 Kia Optima. The contact stated that while driving at various speeds, the power steering malfunctioned and caused the vehicle to drift from side to side. The vehicle was taken to the dealer who along with the manufacturer, stated that the vehicle was operating properly. The vehicle had not been repaired. The failure mileage was 18,000 and the current mileage was 35,000.

- Soddy Daisy, TN, USA

problem #19

Apr 022012

Optima 4-cyl

  • 150 miles
Steering is very unstable. Extremely afraid of this car - I feel like I am not in control when driving, I constantly have to fight to stay straight. Veers/pulls left and right as if im bouncing in between the lines on the interstate. My stomach stays in knots in fear I will hit another vehicle, or worse a concrete barrier in the construction on the interstate. It feels as if 3-5 seconds I am not in control, my arms are exhausted by the time I arrive to my work, home, or elsewhere. Have complained several times to Kia dealer when having oil changed & I am always told nothing is wrong or cannot duplicate problem. Four mechanics have driven my car elsewhere and agree there is a safety issue and Kia should recall and fix before it cost someone/a family their lives. My dash lights also surge to maximum brightness at any random moment while driving - all on their own. I recently started having issues with starting my car, I bought my car in March 2012 and currently have 14K miles (highway for work). Recently, twice my car felt as if it was not going to start, sputtering, smell of exhaust inside car. I also have issues if I am at a red light/stopped and when I accelerate sometimes the car feels as if it dies out for a second - misfiring. I can not pass in traffic out of fear my car will not respond when I try to accelerate. My car constantly will not connect to my phone, or keeps a call display on the radio after the call has ended (freezes) until I restart my car. I feel there is something terribly wrong with the wiring/electrical/steering with my car and several others according to other complaints on here! Toyota recalled only after a death, Hyundai/Nissan/Dodge all just recalled immediately - what about us Kia? I have a family in this sedan that is going to end up costing my life or worse, my entire family's lives! please address this problem!!!!! steering is not normal or safe!!!

- Gonzales, LA, USA

problem #18

Feb 092013

Optima 4-cyl

  • 27,000 miles
I am a new owner of a 2012 LX Kia Optima with 27K miles. My concern is when driving at highway speeds greater than 65 mph you have to use two hands on steering wheel just to keep the vehicle straight and from pulling left or right. It feel as if the steering wheel slips and is quite alarming. I have to work harder to keep it in the lanes making me more tired.

- Alabaster, AL, USA

problem #17

May 312012

Optima 4-cyl

  • 500 miles
2012 Kia Optima hybrid. Has been demonstrating a very nervous steering (left and right pulling), more markedly at highway speeds, even since brand new, but incident date reported was the first time the problem was extremely noticeable. Incident event reported was not an accident, but close one. Even after installation of new tires, balancing and alignment, steering keeps responding nervously, causing driver fatigue and not imparting too much confidence to the driver at high speeds.

- Bristow, VA, USA

problem #16

Jan 292013


  • 14,000 miles
The owner of a 2012 LX Kia Optima with 14K mi but very concern after discovering that at highway speeds greater than 65-75 mph you have to use two hands on steering wheel just to keep the vehicle straight and from pulling left or right. I'm not a tech but, if I had to guess, my money is on the electronic/power steering device. I love everything about this car and if Kia/Hyundai motors wants to keep their sells, then they better "own it!" this is definitely a recall/ NHTSA safety matter that should be taken seriously. Electronic/power steering is an area that should be looked at and resolved immediately for the safety of the public.

- Sun City, AZ, USA

problem #15

Jan 082012

Optima 4-cyl

  • 21,000 miles
The vehicle drifts left and right constantly and substantially, we have taken it to the dealer more times than I can count. Same conclusion every time. Adjusted, and vehicle is within specifications. They have not and refuse to acknowledge there is a serious issue. As of January 8th 2013, over one year since purchasing the problem, it still exists. We recently was in a minor accident because of this problem. On a tight road with little or no room for waiver, we struck another vehicles mirror with ours at 70mph. Luckily there was only superficial damage besides both of us deciding we are not driving this car again due to the safety of our children and ourselves. We are currently pursuing a lemon claim on the vehicle. Bale Kia and crain Kia both have told us the same thing, could not duplicate and vehicle is within specifications, tsb #032. According to them they are assuming we are making this up. Along with the 30+ other complaints found on here.

- North Little Rock, AR, USA

problem #14

May 102012


  • 120 miles
I bought this Kia Optima sx in May 2012 because it's a beautiful car, basically with no hesitation. My first day driving it, I thought the steering felt a little different, tight, and pulled to the left and right and very hard to keep it going straight. I thought to myself, well it's a brand new car and has to be broken in a little maybe. About 500 miles in, problem didn't go away, took it to the dealer, they inspected the alignment, said alignment was ok, but the psi in tires was a little off and that it should fix the issue. Nothing has changed. Week later I took it in again. Was told everything is up to spec, and was told I am the first person to report this kind of issue with the car. I go home that night and google Optima steering problem...the search engine goes nuts!!! this is a issue with the Optima since 2011!!! I'm a truck driver and I can barely steer this car!!! how can this be safe on the roads"?" there is thousands of complaints of this exact problem!! when my wife drives it she tells me she can't even take a drink of her soda because she has to pay so much attention to holding the wheel straight!! I feel the same way!! come on Kia!!! come on D.O.T. it's only just a matter of time before this car causes a serious accident!! obviously the electronic power steering isn't safe!! so recall it!!

- New Berlin, WI, USA

problem #13

Jun 092012

Optima 4-cyl

  • 50 miles
Vehicle hard to control and steer straight, especially at highway speeds. Severe pull to the left, though occasionally it drifts to the right. At city speeds, the steering problem is not as noticeable. I took the car to the dealer, and they checked the alignment. Minor adjustments, and tire inflation change, resulted in no significant change in the problem...it remains severe. If you let go of the steering wheel, then the car swiftly move across to the left lanes.

- Danville, CA, USA

problem #12

Apr 152012


  • 8 miles
Brand new vehicle pulled to right and also drifted left to right at 8 miles on highway with a speed of 55. I though all that it needed was a simple alignment I took it back to the dealer at just under 3000 miles and the tech drove it and told me it was fine I just need to get used to it. This car did not drive like the 2 that I had driven before I purchased it. The tech did an alignment and said the rear wheel was off from the factory. The car still did the same thing it felt loose and drifted on highway and straitways. I took it to another dealer that day and the tech drove it for 30 seconds and noticed the steering is was not right.he spent a great deal of time performing an alignment and once I drove it was fine. There was a slight pull to the right but most cars do have that. The tech gave me a print out of the alignment and the front camber was not to factory settings he told me that he could not adjust it. After driving 700 miles later the loose feeling and the drifting returned. I have contacted the original dealer again and I am hoping for a resolution soon.

- Hull, MA, USA

problem #11

May 292012

Optima 4-cyl

  • 1 miles
The vehicle steering seems tight which is fine, but when accelerating between 30-45 mph the vehicle veers off to the left. I am reading that this is not normal for this vehicle. This is an issue and I believe needs to be fixed.

- West Mifflin, PA, USA

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