Kia Optima: Reader hauls Deputy Editor over the coals

  • Parkers reader demands clarification over long-term report
  • Confusion over low oil warning and oil pressure warning
  • Dep Ed faces a grilling. Reader Pendle cross-examines

Below is an edited email exchange between myself and Parkers reader Stephen Pendle following a previous long-term report about an oil level warning light on the Kia Optima. Stephen wants clarification after confusion – largely caused by me – over whether this was an oil level warning light or an oil pressure warning light. The picture from the manual above clears up the situation. There is, in fact, a warning light for oil low and a warning light for oil pressure. If nothing else, it proves you can’t pull the wool over the eyes of a Parkers reader.

Stephen's is the first email in italics, while mine is in normal text. Read on:

I use your web pages for reference/advice quite a lot and normally I am impressed but I am somewhat dismayed in reading the article on your page:
I know it is written light-heartedly and I enjoyed the self-deprecating format of it but there is a reference of ‘driving to the nearest filling station after the oil light had come on’. Oil lights are normally for oil pressure, not level, and allowing the engine to run with an oil light on would be more stupid than accidentally not replacing the dipstick.
Surely the reason the light is RED is to indicate to the driver that the engine should be immediately switched off.

Kind regards
Stephen Pendle

Hello Stephen
Yes, I appreciate your feedback on the Kia Optima update. Of course, you are right it needs to be clear that the oil warning light I saw was telling me the oil level was low. It simply says ‘oil level low’ which, by its very nature, tells you that you have some latitude in terms of how much further you can travel in that state. An oil level warning light is, as you rightly point out, a warning light. It is not an indication of something terminal.
It’s an interesting problem for anyone who is staring down the barrel of a warning light. Do I carry on, or do I stop immediately? An oil level warning light is what it is though, and driving five miles with an oil level warning light on in order to carry out a top-up is not what I would call reckless.
Stopping immediately on a road without a hard shoulder because of an oil warning light, is not what I would call safe and nothing something I would recommend to Parkers readers.

Tim Bowdler, Deputy Editor, Parkers

Hi Tim
Thanks for your email.
I am not trying to be belligerent here. Maybe the model of Kia you reviewed has a more sophisticated oil monitoring system than I understand at the moment. I actually would like to know if this is the case so if you find out if the light is indicating level warning or pressure warning I would be grateful (Kia is on my list for my next car).
I do take your point that Parkers could not be recommending this action unilaterally otherwise there would be a pile of idiots hauling on the skids at the slightest dash lights they don’t understand.

Kind regards
Stephen Pendle

Hello Stephen
No, it’s the oil level warning, not the pressure. I should have made that clear. 


What do you think of the Kia Optima? Get your opinions published in our Owners' Reviews section here.

Current mileage: 16,654 miles

Average mpg: 45.6mpg