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

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

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.

2020 Kia Optima Complaint Summary

Complaint CategoryNumber of Complaints
Service Brakes
Electrical System
Power Train
Unknown Or Other
Air Bags
Fuel/propulsion System
Exterior Lighting
Forward Collision Avoidance: Automatic Emergency Braking
Seat Belts

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.

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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
  • Tiffany M

    A recall needs to be on this car for the motor my 2020 Optima burns so much oil and goes into limp mode I have had nothing but problems with this car and it only had 39k on it when I bought currently at 77k and it’s messed up again! I am very disgusted with this company! Kia will not do anything to fix this problem.

  • Natalie M

    I have a 2020 Kia Optima I bought the car December of 2020 with only 10,000 miles on it and so far until this year in June of this year 2023 I started having problems with the oil consumption I get the oil change and 2months later I’m back in for low oil 2 1/2quarts low Kia just kept feeling it back up until next oil change then in August got another oil change same thing I had to keep bringing it back in to get filled back up until October I got a oil change and by November 2 I was back in 2 1/2 2quarts low I then made a appointment to go back in November 9th as I’m driving in my engine light came on I let Kia know they go back and forth with me about testing basically telling me I have to pay for it even though they know it’s been a problem since the car was at 50,0000miles so I agree to the testing only to reveal that the spark plugs was burnt up from the oil around the spark plugs which was causing the car to misfire and lose pressure so now Kia does not want to honor the extended warranty for my car and I’m in limbo trying to figure out what should I do next because basically they trying to deny my warranty and my claim and I’m just out of a car even though the whole time I have had the 2020 Kia Optima Kia has only been the one doing all the maintenance on my car but yet and still I’m in a bind and they don’t want to honor the warranty I need help what should I do?

  • 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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