2020 Kia Optima Problems and Top Complaints – Is Your Car A Lemon?

Vehicle structure and brake issues among the top complaints received by the NHTSA from vehicle owners

Updated on Author: Brian Jones

Updated on Author: Brian Jones

The 2020 Kia Optima is a mid-size car in a world where this segment is quickly disappearing. The automaker claims that the Optima is “driven to stand out,” but owners don’t like the attention they are getting from driving it. Between the defective service brakes and faulty structure, consumers need to be warned about all that can go wrong with this Kia car.

Click on other model year to view more problems: 2018   2019

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NHTSA Complaints for the 2020 Kia Optima

Complaint CategoryNumber of Complaints
Service Brakes
Unknown Or Other
Air Bags
Fuel/propulsion System
Power Train
Electrical System
Forward Collision Avoidance: Automatic Emergency Braking
Seat Belts
Electrical System:ignition:anti-theft:immobilizer/proximity:key/sender

Problems with the Service Brakes

Stopping a vehicle should be a top concern for every driver. Otherwise, it’s impossible to avoid an accident. Yet, this Optima doesn’t seem to care about the safety of occupants.

Here is one NHTSA complaint to look at. “The FCW Forward Collision Warning System seems to not get activated under any circumstances. I have changed the sensitivity of the system to all levels and it never seems to detect the car in front of it. Never warns you of an imminent collision. The car is always in motion when I tried the system.”

Braking systems have become far more complicated with the addition of driver-assist features. These systems are meant to work together to engage the brakes and avoid accidents. Yet, the software becomes glitchy, which causes trouble. Service Bulletin #TSBCHA084_R4 talks about other trouble with the Motor Driven Power Steering Motor, Electronic Control Unit and Steering Column Housing, which can also lead to a crash. Basically, the Optima is only “driven to stand out,” in those moments when it can actually be driven.

Structural Problems

In general, the Optima is meant to be a lower-cost car, affordable to everyone. Still, it shouldn’t be made like a boxcar, yet that’s what is found.

Another NHTSA complaint states, “There is a very limited and inadequate space between the bottom of the dashboard and the brake pedal which can impede a driver from making an emergency stop. The same lack of space between the dashboard and the emergency brake pedal. Nothing happened it is potentially dangerous.”

While this manufacturing defect is serious, there are other problems noted in the communications. One important note is found with Service Bulletin #TSB_BOD208. This communication states that the trunk latch base sub assembly doesn’t work correctly. Because of this, it can be hard to close the trunk lid and sometimes it might not latch at all. If owners need a reminder that the Optima isn’t made the way it should be, they simply need to drive down the road with the hatch bouncing up and down.

Your Lemon Law Legal Rights

Think you have a lemon? Sit back and let the experts work out your lemon case at no cost to you. The law makes Kia pay legal fees. You may be able to get your lemon out of your life. Every year, auto manufacturers buy back, replace or pay cash settlements to thousands of ‘lemon’ owners like you.

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Brian Jones

About the Author:

Brian Jones spent more than 30 years working as an ASE Certified Master Tech and Parts Specialist at multiple dealerships. Brian has become an authority in the industry, traveling across the country to consult for car dealerships and contributing his expertise as a writer for several major automotive publications. In his spare time, Brian enjoys working on pickup trucks, muscle cars, Jeeps and anything related to motorsports.

See more posts from Brian Jones
  • Vanessa K

    I am the 2 nd owner of a 2020 Kia Optima FE. My engine failed on June 3 rd 2023. With 89,900 miles. I am told by the dealership that I need a new engine. This is a known problem with Optima’s (Kia’s service manager). My car gave me no issues prior to this happening. I have had regular service/maintenance done on my car since purchasing in June 2021. I did buy this car from a Ford dealership and that is where I have had all my service done.

  • Unhappy C

    I have a 2020 Kia optima. Yea I purchased it used however when you check the vin number no issues come up and I’ve had the car long enough that if any issues occurred it could’ve been fixed prior to the warranty expiring. Here I am starting to have issues prior to the warranty expiration and unable to be seen due to a lengthy time frame having to wait for an appointment, then I was 12,000 miles over and Kia refuses to take care of the oil consumption issue that the other kias have bc my vin number doesn’t come up under the cars affected by this issue. Which may possibly require a new engine bc I burn 5 gallons of oil in 1,000 miles. Make it make sense. DON’T WASTE YOUR MONEY!

  • rozell c

    On Thursday, I was leaving to drive my Kia Optima LX 2020 and the check engine light started flashing with no warning. My car slowed down and started losing power so I took it to auto zone on limp mode to receive a code and it came back with p1326. My car only has JUST A LITTLE OVER 100,000 and I also just recently got the oil changed. It’s been sitting at the shop for over 3 weeks now with now word, no help, no ride, paying for Uber and Lyfts, etc even though the car is out of warranty there no way this car should be having this many issues. Its a 2020 with this many problem and the car has been stolen twice.

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