Slack in the steering system

I have a small amount of slack or play in thesteering system of our 2015 Kia Optima which allows the vehicle to wander a bit on the highway. It requires a small amountof correction quite often to keep it centered in the lane. It is a bit annoying and it keeps me from relaxing. Is there an adjustment available to correct this nuisance?

get alignment checked, especially keep an eye on toe-in parameter

also, some types of tires (like Hankook) are prone to make vehicle to “wonder around” a little bit when going straight


Yes, alignment, specifically toe-in. Have the alignment checked and tell the service writer is wanders or has play on the highway.

If the tech knows your complaint and he sees that the toe-in is set within specification, say to the smallest amount but still in-spec. He can make an adjustment towards the other side of the limit.

1 Like

Does your Kia Optima have Lane Keep Assist? If it does, read the owner’s manual section on that and disable it. I have heard this complaint from some new car owners who are not aware that the steering is not entirely in their control on the highway with the system engaged. Yours is a 2015. The system was available then, but I assume you would know if it was on. Just trying to be helpful. CarComplaints lists three owners of 2015 Optimas who describe your problem. I was not able to find any TSBs on the subject. Seven others have other steering issue reported and it is the single most common complaint for that vehicle and year. Let us know how it works out. The other folks above have advice I think is the best. The word to describe what you feel is tramlining. Indeed, it is usually tire and alignment related. The crown of the road is the usual “problem” in one sense. It is felt more at highway speeds, but many owners report the car will sometimes pull on back roads with a heavy crown.

1 Like

John Goreham may be on to something here. There was a person ( new car and new driver ) sometime ago asking about this type of problem. It turned out the dealer finally determined the person was making the lane assist activate so they showed her how to turn it off.

1 Like

I “wander” why they do that…


haha, good catch :slight_smile:
I’m ashamed :slight_smile:

1 Like

There is a U-joint in the steering shaft near the floor. Some vehicles this shaft is under the hood.
This could be worn out. I know this vehicle is only 3 years old at most, but I’d check that .

Kneel near the drivers door and grasp the joint with your left hand and turn the steering wheel slightly left to right with your right hand…check for play.


This vehicle should still be under the warranty period. 5 years or 60000 miles and 100000 drive line.

good catch, that’s Kia after all…
still, I doubt warranty covers “wear and tear”, so alignment is likely to be on owner.
anybody CAREFULLY read Kia warranty for what base warranty exclusions are?

Definitely start with getting an alignment. Toe or camber can both cause poor tracking.
Tires can be an issue too, although I personally have had great tracking with Hankooks.

I’ve also read that the new electric steering systems can wander. I haven’t driven any myself, so I cannot offer any direct experience.

I have to ask… has it done this since new?

I don’t know because I just bought the car…It has 48657 miles on it.

Now you need to find out the warranty coverage for second owner. Did you not test drive this thing?

Yes… I not only drove it for a couple hours myself … but I paid my mechanical shop people, an hours time to do a thorough inspection from stem to stern …put on the rack…pull the wheels check the brakes and all the linkeage and drive it in town and on the highway. Thye said it k looked great. Ther was no whining anytime for the next ten days.

Are you aware of this recall? Number SA-188.

This bulletin provides information related to an upgrade of the logic for the Motor Driven Power Steering (MPDS) ECU of some 2014~2015MY Optima (QF) vehicles, produced from August 23, 2013 through July 24, 2014, to address some complaints that the steering pulls to one side. To install the new steering logic, reprogram the MDPS System using the GDS/KDS download, as described in this bulletin. For confirmation that the latest reflash has been done to a vehicle you are working on, verify ROM ID using the tables in this TSB.

Play in the steering can be caused by

  • loose yoke plug
  • loose steering gear mounting bolts
  • worn steering/suspestion parts, like tie rod ends

The mileage is a bit low for premature wear problems in the wheel bearings, tie rods, tie rod ends, ball joints, etc but looseness in even one of those items can also cause a wander.

If the roads where you live are anything like the ones here then 49k miles is an eternity…