really awful
Crashes / Fires:
1 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
100,604 miles

About These NHTSA Complaints:

The NHTSA is the US gov't agency tasked with vehicle safety. Complaints can be spread across multiple & redundant categories, & are not organized by problem. See the Back button — blue bar at the very top of the page — to explore more.

Get notified about new defects, investigations, recalls & lawsuits for the 2002 Kia Optima:

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

problem #6

May 012014

Optima 4-cyl

  • 130,000 miles
Subframe is rusting out and my tires are getting abnormal wear and my front tires are angled in.

- Winona, MN, USA

problem #5

Feb 092014

Optima 4-cyl

  • miles
I received a call from my 16 year old daughter that she had a flat tire on her front driver side. She is on the side of the road in the dark and cold I got dressed went there and changed it, so go the next morning and take a look at it in light what I found is very upsetting, the whole frame where lower control (arm bolts on completely rusted away. I found out that after research a factory recall was on it, I called auffenburg Kia in cape girardeau Missouri I was told that the car had been recalled and repaired in 12/28/0 9 and I could bring it there but they are not going to be able too fix it because of its already been done before, I said why did it happen again he wouldn't give me a answer except that the computer said it was ok and I couldn't speak with his boss until next week. I said what if my daughter died in a wreck because of it all he said was Kia would say that they already fixed it and would not be liable. I would like to know what if anything I can do about this or am I just over a barrel with Kia and there junk.

- Jackson, MO, USA

problem #4

Sep 142013

Optima 4-cyl

  • 138,227 miles
While I was driving I had noticed that the car was pulling to the right. I had new tires and an alignment done 5-6 weeks prior, so I returned to the shop and they looked at everything and the front end was out of alignment. The shop looked further to see what caused this and found that the right front frame area was rusted and cracked. They advised me that the car was not save and that I should contact Kia. I was driving the car home and the car pulled drastically to right and I heard a crushing noise from the right tire area. I pulled off the road and saw that the tire was not positioned properly. I had the car towed to my residence and am in the process of contacting Kia. I was lucking to not have caused an accident, after reading some of the other similar complaints it should have been a national recall on this situation. According the records that I had checked I am only the 2nd owner of this vehicle. I hope that Kia makes good on this situation.

- Bayville, NJ, USA

problem #3

Oct 312012

Optima 6-cyl

  • 104,000 miles
The vehicle was driven and at one point there was a noticeable difference in steering and the car pulled to the right. Within a few days of this event, the brand new tires that were purchased just a few months earlier, wore from the inner edge to about 1/3 of the width of the tire, exposing the belts. This caused one tire to pop, while the car was being driven. A spare was placed on the vehicle to get it to a tire repair location and after approximately 30 miles of driving, the spare lost all tread and also popped. The vehicle was then towed to the tire repair shop and the rusted and broken subframe was detected. The area was so rusted that portions of the frame broke and the tires were no longer running straight. I called Kia and they told me although there are recalls for this very problem on Kia Optimas from 2001 to 2004, my car was not in the recall because I live in Kansas. The recall does apply to Kia in Missouri, which is 15 minutes from where I live. The Kansas City area is both Missouri and Kansas and the area where I live. The rusting is attributed to salt used during inclement weather in Missouri and not only is the same salt used in Kansas, but I also drive in Missouri. The Kia representative still refused to recognize that my vehicle should be part of the recall even though the exact same issue that caused other Kia Optimas to be recalled has happened to my vehicle. The recall needs to be extended to Kansas because we deal with the same elements as Missouri and Iowa which are included in the recall. My son was driving this vehicle when the damage occurred and he could have suffered serious injury if he had been on the highway instead of a side street.

- Merriam, KS, USA

problem #2

Feb 132012

Optima 6-cyl

  • 140,000 miles
My 2002 Kia Optima, veered of the side of the interstate due to a flat tire. The tires had been replaced that morning and within 130 miles on the highway the right front tire popped. As I took a closer look I noticed my wheel was slanted in. I then had it towed to the nearest repair shop who informed me the engine cradle was rusted and corroded. When I contacted Kia about the issue they basically said sorry about your luck. There is a recall for this problem but my VIN is not included. No action has been taken by Kia in any of my attempts to have them resolve this problem. I am, and have been, stranded out of town for 3 weeks now waiting on them to make some kind of decision. They have overlooked every word I have said to them about the salt in my location and the cars previous locations which causes such corrosion to a poorly make vehicle. The car originates from southern California where salt is presently in the air. It then was registered in Oklahoma and the Texas panhandle, both having harsh snowy winters. The car clearly has been exposed to enough salt to have been included in the recall. This is Kia's responsibility, yet they are doing nothing about it. When I crashed my car into the ditch on the side of the highway, my life was put at risk. There very easily could have been a car to my left or right or a pole in that ditch. Kia should have fixed this problem in all Optima's put out during the year of the recall. It is a serious danger to any unaware driver of a 2001-2004 Kia Optima. Legal action needs to be taken against Kia.

- Lubbock, TX, USA

problem #1

May 042009


  • 91,400 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Kia Optima. The contact stated that the subframe on the passenger side of his vehicle was very rusty. The vehicle is unable to be driven and the contact has no control of the steering because the A-arm was separated from the subframe. The dealer acknowledged the failures, but there are no recalls available. The failure mileage was 91,400. Updated 05/19/09 updated 05/20/09.

- Kansas City, KS, USA