On this blog, we’ve written extensively about the Kia Optima and all its features. Today, we will talk about what kind of mileage you can expect from this sedan and whether you should consider this car in your buying process. Let’s start with a quick answer:
On average, a Kia Optima lasts between 190.000 – 210.000 miles. An Optima needs to go to the garage for unscheduled repairs about 0.2 times per year, with a 14% chance of severe problems. Furthermore, Kia Optima owners spend an average of $471 per year on repair costs.
However, that certainly doesn’t answer the question entirely. Below we’ll first take an in-depth look into the performance of different generations of the Kia Optima in terms of mileage. Also, we’ll compare the Optima to its main competitors and other cars manufactured by Kia. Finally, we’ll look at maintenance costs and common problems to make sure you have an excellent feeling for what this car has to offer. Read on!
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The Potential Mileage Of A Kia Optima
Let’s start by looking at the mileage of Kia Optima’s as a group. To do proper research, we selected all the Kia Optima available for sale on Autotrader.com in the United States. Then, we selected only the cars that had been manufactured before 2017. This is because it makes no sense to estimate potential mileage by including cars that haven’t had time to reach higher mileages yet.
The total sample size of Kia Optima manufactured before 2017 ended up being 3,968 in total. Then, we started dividing the cars up into groups based on the mileage they had already reached. What we found here is that 5.24% of the Optimas had a mileage of 150.000 or higher. Furthermore, more than a quarter of this group had a mileage between 100.000 – 150.000.
This tells us that Optimas are indeed cars that can reach higher mileage. When we perform this test on passenger cars, we usually find that a number higher than 3% indicates that the car doesn’t have any significant reliability issues. The 5.24% of the Optima is, therefore, a good sign. However, it certainly doesn’t tell the whole story. For that, we need to take a deeper dive into the following subheading.
|Amount Of Miles||Percentage Of Cars|
|Cars With 150.000+||5.24%|
|Cars With 100.000 – 149.000||26.97%|
|Cars With 45.000 – 99.999||58.72%|
|Cars With 0 – 44.999||9.07%|
The Kia Optima Compared To Its Competitors
We also always want to perform the same research on the car’s competitors that we are reviewing. The reason for this is that this makes it clear if the Optima is a car that’s worth considering or if competitors do way better, and they seem to be the better option.
For this, we selected the three sedans mentioned in the table below. For all of them, we again selected only the models that were manufactured before 2017. What becomes clear immediately is that all three competitors outperform the Optima regarding how many models reach the 150.000 miles mark percentage-wise.
Probably to no one’s surprise, the Toyota Camry blows all the other sedans out of the water here, with almost 20% of this group having reached a mileage that’s higher than 150.000. However, also the Malibu and the Sonata put op solid numbers.
Furthermore, we also looked at the highest recorded mileages per car. The reason for doing this is that it gives us an indication of what we can expect in terms of maximum mileage if we were to buy a specific model. Unfortunately for the Optima, it lacks in this category.
The highest recorded mileage of 230.000 miles is not even close to the 350.000 miles the Toyota Camry can put up. Furthermore, the Malibu also does way better with 300.000 miles. Only the Sonata is comparable (although still significantly better) with 265.000 miles.
|Model||Sample Size||Cars With 150.000+ Miles||% Percentage Of Cars With 150.000+||Highest Mileage|
Do you want to know more about how this car compares to other vehicles regarding the expected miles it can last? Read more about that in this article: How Many Miles Can A Car Last? (156 Models Analyzed!)
The Optima Compared To Other Kia’s
Finally, we like to compare the Optima to other cars Kia has manufactured in recent years. We do this, so we get an even better understanding of the Optima in terms of reliability. This is because we now get to see Kia manufacturers as a brand and whether Optima is an over-or underperformer.
We found that the Optima is low-to-average in terms of potential mileage it can reach compared to other Kia’s. The 5+% it puts up is less than what the Sorento, Sedona, and Soul are doing but a little more than the Forte numbers. Also, in terms of the highest recorded mileage, we found that the Optima is almost the same as all the other cars.
However, let it be clear that all of this doesn’t make the Optima a lousy car. It’s a very decent car, a score of 5% or higher, and the highest recorded mileage of 230,000 is all very decent. It’s just not outstanding.
|Model||Sample Size||Cars With 150.000+ Miles||% Percentage Of Cars With 150.000+||Highest Mileage|
Kia Optima Maintenance Cost Per Year
Besides knowing the potential mileage of a car, it’s also essential to know how much a vehicle will cost in terms of maintenance. This is because there’s no point in having a car that can reach high mileage if it also means you have to spend a large amount of money to keep it on the road.
Therefore, we went to Repairpal.com and analyzed the annual maintenance cost for all the model years mentioned below. What we learned is that Optima owners spend an average of $471 per year on maintenance. Furthermore, Optima go to the garage for unexpected maintenance around 0.2 times per year with a 16% chance of having severe problems.
However, we have to know if this is good or bad? Let’s compare this to the competitors of the Optima.
- A Hyundai Sonata costs an average of $458 per year on maintenance, needs to go to the garage for unexpected maintenance around 0.27 times per year with an 11% chance of having severs problems.
- A Toyota Camry costs an average of $388 per year on maintenance, needs to go to the garage for unexpected maintenance around 0.28 times per year with an 11% chance of having severe problems.
- A Chevy Malibu costs and average of $532 per year on maintenance, needs to go to the garage for unexpected maintenance around 0.28 times per year with an 11% chance of having sever problems.
We conclude from this that the Optima costs about as much as the Sonata and a little less than the Malibu. However, the Camry is the much cheaper option year. All other factors are almost equal. Although the Optima needs to go to the garage a little less, the risk of a severe problem is slightly higher.
|Year Of Manufacturing||Kia Optima Maintenance Cost|
Also read: Types Of Gas A Kia Optima Takes (All Generations)
Common Problems Of The Kia Optima
NOTE: Before buying a used car, I always like to make sure the vehicle isn´t having any problems that you should be aware of. The easiest way to do this is by buying an OBD2 scanner. These scanners can easily be plugged into any car you’re interested in, and they’ll give you a rundown of potential problems.
Personally, I like this one on Amazon because it has a lot more functions than basic OBD2 scanners. This particular one also runs tests on your emission system and tests if you’re fuel mix is optimal (or if your engine is misfiring), so you have a complete understanding of how the car’s performing.
Malfunctioning Of The Door Locks
In pre-2016 models, the latch of the door locks tends to wear out around the 100,000 miles mark. This means you won’t be able to open the car from the inside or outside. The latches need to be replaced, which will cost around $100.
Throttle Position Switch Malfunctions
On pre-2018 models, the Throttle Position Switch may malfunction. This will result in the check engine light illuminating and the engine stuttering or having trouble with acceleration. This usually happens around the 100,000 miles mark. Replacing this sensor will cost around $150 – $200.
Transmission Problems That Need A Software Update
Pre-2018 models may have problems with the transmission. This is not a mechanical issue and can usually be fixed with a software update. Symptoms include the check engine light illuminating as well as erratic shifting. Problems typically occur around the 70,000 miles mark, and setting them is usually done free of charge.
Also read: Kia Optima Transmission: Overview, Problems, Fluids
Weak Alternator Replacement
Sometimes the alternator on the Optima proved too weak to do its work correctly on the pre-2017 models. Especially in situations where the battery was used intensively (such as having the A/C on), the alternator proved too weak to recharge the battery. This resulted in starting issues. The alternator needed to be replaced, which would cost around $650.
Failure Of A/C Compressor Clutch
Pre-2017 models tend to have difficulty with the A/C compressor clutch. This can cause excessive noise or vibration when the A/C is on. Problems usually occur around the 90,000 miles mark. The compressor clutch will need to be replaced, which sets you back $600.
Sometimes all the speakers will stop working. This is not a significant problem. It mainly involves a hard reset of the audio system, which will then function normally again. To reset the system, disconnect the battery for 15 seconds and reconnect.
Breaking Timing Belts
Pre-2012 models tend to have problems with the premature breaking of the timing belt around the 120,000 miles mark. The belt brakes will likely damage the crankshaft position sensor, which needs to be replaced. Replacing the timing belt will cost $500, whereas replacing the crankshaft position sensor will cost another $250.
Wrong Transmission Fluid
Pre-2011 models are susceptible to what kind of transmission fluid is used. You must look into the owner’s manual of the car to find what’s recommended. Using other transmission fluid than what’s recommended will result in transmission damage.
Also read: 8 Common Problems Of A Kia Optima Hybrid
Is The Kia Optima A Smart Buy?
Now, the final question we have to answer is whether or not the Kia Optima is a smart buy or not. As we’ve read before, the Optima does seem to be a reliable car that’s capable of reaching the 200,000 miles mark without any significant problems. Maintenance costs are therefore reasonably low. Also, the risk of substantial damage and extensive repair is negligible with this car.
However, we also have to acknowledge that competitors of the Optima (especially the Toyota Camry) beat the Optima in terms of potential mileage and yearly maintenance cost.
So, if you’re looking for a car with the most potential for high mileage and low maintenance cost, you’re most likely better of to look at the Toyota Camry. However, if you have your sights set on a Kia Optima, then it’s good to know that your best bet is a 5-year-old model.
The reason for this is that an Optima depreciates around 49% in the first five years, according to caredge.com. This means you’ll still have 140,000 miles left on the car for half the price. In terms of price-to-mileage that’s the best way to go.
Hi! My name is Stefan; I’m the owner and lead writer at TheDriverAdviser.com.
I’m an active writer on this blog myself, as well as a novice car mechanic. For the really technical stuff, I find writers with experience as a mechanic or who have studied mechanical engineering.
Read more about our fantastic team on our about page!