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Kia Optima Transmission: Overview, Problems, Fluids

Kia Optima Transmission: Overview, Problems, Fluids

The sleek and stylish design of Kia Optima coupled with its premium specifications has made it a cherished mid-size sedan. Kia Optima has seen five generations, with hundreds of models. All of these models come with slightly different specifications. These changes in specs also include a few changes in transmission models. This highly researched blog will tell you all you need to know about the transmissions used in Kia Optima, along with their problems and cost.

The 1st generation of Kia Optima has 4-speed auto (F4A42) and 5-speed manual transmissions. The 2nd gen uses 4-speed auto and 5-speed manual transmissions. In the 3rd generation, we saw 6-speed auto (A6LF2, A6MF2) and 6-speed manual (M6GF2) transmissions. The 4th and the 5thgenuse 6-speed auto (A6MF2, A6MF2-1, A6LF2) and 7-speed auto (D7UF1)transmissions.

If you are planning to buy a Kia Optima, or if you already own one, knowing some basic information about the transmission system in Kia Optima will come in handy. If a car is not equipped with a good transmission, it can create all sorts of problems. This article will answer all of your queries about transmissions used in Kia Optima such as what transmission fluid you should use in Kia Optima, how much will it cost, and what problems can you expect in such transmissions. Give this detailed article a read to learn all you need to know about transmissions used in Kia Optima.

Also read: The Expected Mileage Of A Kia Optima

What Transmission Has the Kia Optima Used?

First Generation (2000-2005)

  • 5-speed manual transmission
  • 4 speed F4A42 automatic transmission

Second Generation (2005-10)

  • 5-speed manual transmission
  • 5-speed automatic transmission

Third Generation (2010-2015)

  • 6 speed A6LF2 automatic transmission
  • M6GF2 6-speed manual transmission
  • 6 speed A6MF2 automatic transmission
  • 6 speed A6MF2H automatic transmission

Fourth Generation (2015-2019)

  • 7 speed D7UF1 automatic transmission
  • 6 speed A6LF2 automatic transmission
  • 6 speed S A6MF2 automatic transmission

Fifth Generation (2019-Present)

  • 7 speed D7UF1 automatic transmission
  • 6 speed A6LF2 automatic transmission
  • 6 speed A6MF2H automatic transmission
  • 6 speed LX A6MF2-1 automatic transmission
  • 6 speed S A6MF2 automatic transmission

How Long Does a Kia Optima Transmission Last?

Before buying a Kia Optima, it is important to know how long will it last. Transmission plays a very important role in the longevity of a car. A Kia Optima transmission typically lasts for about 100k-150k miles, as long as it is maintained properly. Regular service, transmission flushes, and timely tuning of the engine will allow your transmission to last a lifetime.

How Much Does a Kia Optima Transmission Cost?

Kia Optima has seen several different transmissions throughout its generations. The price of these transmissions varies accordingly. Since there are several models of Kia Optima, it can become a difficult task to find the replacement cost of the transmission that your Kia Optima uses. However, the following table will relieve you of this trouble. After going through the websites of several online retailers, here are the prices* of the Kia Optima transmission we found.

4 speed F4A42 automatic transmission  $2425
5-speed automatic transmission A5GF1$2387
7 speed D7UF1 automatic transmission$2735
6 speed A6LF2 automatic transmission  $2487
6 speed S A6MF2 automatic transmission$2410

*These prices do not include labor costs. For more information, visit AutoZone.

Common Transmission Problems

1st Gen Transmission Problems

  • Slight jerks while driving, resulting in the car shifting from 4th gear into 3rd gear. This abrupt gear shifting is usually caused due to sensor issues. Apart from that, get the transmission fluid changed by a professional to get rid of this problem.
  • Transmission shifting problems. This is one of the most common problems associated with Kia Optima. This problem is caused by low-quality transmission fluid.

2nd Gen Transmission Problems

  • Shift cable separating from the shifter assembly. This causes an excess tension on the transmission and therefore leads to accidents. This is caused by an improperly installed shift cable and is a manufacturing fault. Kia recalled several models with these problems.
  • When shifting from second to third gear, the engine surges once you remove your foot from the gas pedal. This problem makes the car’s speed uncontrollable. This is again a manufacturing fault and Kia has recalled several models to deal with this problem.
  • Unable to put Kia Optima in drive and reverse. This problem causes the car to become inoperable. This problem is caused because the shift cable gets separated from the gear selector.

3rd Gen Transmission Problems

  • Hard and abrupt gear shifting. This problem is caused when the fluid heats up and the transmission sensor trips. Since this problem will vanish once the temperature drops, it is often hard to duplicate. Change the transmission fluid to get rid of this problem.
  • Torque converter not locking up immediately. This might be happening because of the locked-up automatic overdrive or because of very low engine temperatures.
  • Transmission jerking in 2021 Kia Optima. This is either due to low levels of transmission fluid or it might be due to sensor problems.

4th Gen Transmission Problems

  • Users of the 2016 Kia Optima EX have reported clunky and hard shifting, especially during cold temperatures. This problem is caused due to faulty aftermarket intake. Replace the intake to solve this issue.
  • Car downshifting into first and second gears when in traffic. This problem is caused due to inefficient transmission fluid or faulty transmission.

5th Gen Transmission Problems

  • Kia Optima 2019 faces some problems while shifting gears and the car doesn’t take up power when gears are shifted. To get rid of this problem, drain the transmission fluid and always use the genuine Kia transmission fluid in cars.

Difference Between Kia Optima Transmissions

Here is a table that enlists the major differences between the main transmissions used across different generations of a Kia Optima. 

ModelDrive-trainMaximum Engine TorqueGross Vehicle Weight
4 speed F4A42 automatic transmissionFWD169 Nm1950 kg
5-speed automatic transmission A5GF1FWD247 Nm2020 kg
6 speed A6LF2 automatic transmissionFWD197 Nm2000 kg
7 speed D7UF1 automatic transmissionFWD353 Nm2050 kg

Also read: 8 Common Problems Of A Kia Optima Hybrid

Transmission Fluids and The Kia Optima

The transmission fluids in Kia Optima should be changed every 30k-60k miles. This is necessary to ensure a healthy, well-lubricated transmission that can last as long as the car itself. Early transmission changes don’t harm your car in any way. Thus, it’s a good habit to keep track and change the fluid earlier than due time.

Generally, the Genuine Kia Fluid SP-IV works well with Kia Optima.2012 model of Kia Optima uses Valvoline fully synthetic ATF. The latest generation of Kia Optima works well with the Dexron VI Full Synthetic ATF. Before buying a transmission fluid for your car, you should ensure that it is in accordance with your car’s model.

Also read: Types Of Gas A Kia Optima Takes (All Generations)


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