Nissan Altima Years to Avoid and The Best Years

Nissan Altima Years to Avoid – If you’re considering purchasing a Nissan Altima, it’s essential to be well-informed about the different model years and their potential drawbacks. While the Altima has been a popular choice among midsize sedan enthusiasts, not every year has been equally impressive in terms of reliability and performance.

In this article, we will provide you with a comprehensive guide to the Nissan Altima years to avoid, highlighting the worst years that may not live up to your expectations.

Nissan Altima Years to Avoid

When it comes to purchasing a used car, conducting thorough research is crucial to make an informed decision. This is especially true for the Nissan Altima, as certain model years have had more issues and problems than others.

By identifying these problematic years, you can save yourself from potential headaches and unexpected expenses down the road.

Nissan has released multiple generations of the Altima since its introduction in 1992, with each generation-spanning several years.

While the Altima has enjoyed a reputation for its comfort, performance, and fuel efficiency, there have been specific years that have exhibited more reliability concerns than others.

Please note that this guide is based on historical data, customer reviews, and expert opinions.

While it’s important to consider these factors, individual vehicle maintenance and care can also play a significant role in the overall performance and reliability of any car, including the Nissan Altima.

Now, let’s delve into the details and uncover the Nissan Altima’s worst years, so you can approach your purchase with confidence and avoid potential pitfalls.

Nissan Altima Years to Avoid

The Nissan Altima has established itself as a popular choice in the mid-size sedan segment, offering a blend of style, comfort, and performance.

However, not all Nissan Altima model years are created equal, and some have garnered a reputation for significant issues that potential buyers should be aware of.

Nissan Altima Years to Avoid

By examining the data and customer reports, we will highlight the worst years to help you make an informed decision and steer clear of potential problems.

2002 Nissan Altima: A Risky Venture

The 2002 Nissan Altima stands out as a year to avoid due to numerous complaints and recalls. According to, it has accumulated over 1,000 complaints and faced more than 12 recalls.

Owners have reported major concerns such as excessive oil consumption, catalytic converter failure, and exhaust system problems.

The engine’s oil consumption issue is particularly alarming, leading to costly repairs that can exceed $3,300.

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Considering its age, buying a 2002 Altima poses a significant gamble, and it has earned the notorious “Avoid Like the Plague” label from Car Complaints.

2005 Nissan Altima: Rust and Transmission Troubles

Another year to exercise caution is the 2005 Nissan Altima, with over a thousand complaints documented on The most prevalent issues reported by owners include engine problems, body/paint issues, and transmission troubles.

One notable concern is the rusted floor pan, which has led to basketball-sized holes beneath the floor mat.

Repairing this problem can cost around $1,000.

Additionally, owners have experienced excessive oil consumption and climate system failures, with potential repair costs of up to $2,000 and $1,400, respectively.

2009 Nissan Altima: Steering and Transmission Woes

The 2009 Nissan Altima is considered one of the worst years to avoid due to its steering-related problems.

With over 2,000 complaints, the most notable issue is the steering wheel lock, posing a significant safety risk. The average repair cost for this issue amounts to $960.

Furthermore, owners have reported a whining noise that becomes louder during acceleration, indicating transmission-related problems.

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While this issue is typically covered by the warranty, the repair cost can reach approximately $5,700.

2013 Nissan Altima: A High Complaint Count

If complaint count alone is a determining factor, the 2013 Nissan Altima ranks as one of the worst model years to avoid. With over 3,000 complaints and an “Avoid Like the Plague” seal from Car Complaints, the 2013 Altima raises significant concerns.

The majority of complaints revolve around the faulty continuously variable transmission (CVT) system.

Owners have reported instances of the transmission getting stuck while driving, necessitating a vehicle restart. Repairing this issue can cost upwards of $3,000.

Additionally, the 2013 Altima is known to experience climate system problems, with the compressor rubbing against the frame, resulting in potential repair costs of approximately $1,200.

2016 Nissan Altima: Reliability Concerns

While not the most unreliable model on the list, the 2016 Nissan Altima has its share of concerns. Consumer Reports rates its overall reliability at a mere 1 out of 5.

Transmission issues once again arise as a significant problem, with owners reporting instances of acceleration loss or slipping during turns.

Repairing the transmission can cost around $4,260.

The 2002, 2005, 2009, 2013, and 2016 Nissan Altima years have garnered attention due to various complaints and problems experienced by owners.

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Nissan Altima Best Years

When it comes to purchasing a used Nissan Altima, you’ll be pleased to know that it generally offers a reliable and satisfying driving experience.

However, if you’re seeking the best years of the Nissan Altima with the fewest reliability issues, there are specific model years that stand out as top choices.

Nissan Altima Best Years

In this section, we will explore the Nissan Altima’s best years, highlighting its strengths, reliability ratings, and customer satisfaction.

By delving into the data, we aim to assist you in making an informed decision and finding a Nissan Altima that delivers both performance and peace of mind.

2011 Nissan Altima: Personalized Sportiness

For those seeking a sporty coupe with a subtle design, the 2011 Nissan Altima is an excellent option in the used car market. This model year offers the desired Altima experience with a touch of personalization.

Despite its modest exterior appearance, the 2011 Altima provides a range of features and trims to suit your preferences.

The availability of a lower-cost 4-cylinder entry model makes it an attractive choice for budget-conscious buyers.

In terms of reliability, the 2011 Altima has received relatively low complaint numbers according to Car Complaints, with most complaints centered around the transmission system and body/paint.

This indicates that the overall reliability of the 2011 Altima is quite commendable.

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When searching for a used 2011 Altima, the average retail price ranges from $6,125 to $8,475, making it an affordable option for many buyers.

2020 Nissan Altima: Contemporary Excellence

For those who prefer a newer model, the 2020 Nissan Altima is an exceptional choice. With a stellar 5 out of 5 reliability rating from Consumer Reports, the 2020 Altima has surpassed even some of its highly regarded competitors in the midsize sedan segment.

Notable rivals it outperformed in terms of reliability include the BMW 5 Series, Honda Accord, and Toyota Camry.

The 2020 Altima offers a balanced combination of style, comfort, performance, and reliability.

Its refined design, comfortable seating, impressive fuel economy, and smooth ride make it a popular option among customers and reviewers alike.

Furthermore, the 2020 Altima has garnered praise for its body integrity, as drivers have noticed a lack of squeaks and rattles even on rough roads.

When considering the 2020 Altima, you can expect a well-rounded driving experience that checks all the boxes.

When searching for the most reliable Nissan Altima years, the 2011 and 2020 models stand out as excellent choices. The 2011 Altima offers a personalized approach with sporty features and a budget-friendly entry-level option.

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On the other hand, the 2020 Altima delivers contemporary excellence with its high-reliability rating, refined design, comfortable interior, and impressive performance.

Both models present attractive options for buyers seeking a dependable and satisfying driving experience.

What is the Most Common Problem with Nissan Altima?

Like any vehicle, the Altima is not immune to certain recurring problems that owners may encounter. In this section, we will delve into the most common issues reported by Nissan Altima owners over the years.

By understanding these problems and their potential solutions, you’ll be better equipped to address any issues that may arise with your Altima.

Let’s explore the common problems associated with the Nissan Altima and the steps you can take to rectify them.

1. Engine Stalling When the Vehicle is Warmed Up

One of the most frequently reported problems among Nissan Altima models from 1993 to 2017 is engine stalling, even after the engine has reached operating temperature.

The root cause of this issue can often be attributed to a faulty crankshaft position sensor. If this sensor fails, the vehicle becomes prone to stalling.

Another potential culprit could be the camshaft position sensor. It is crucial not to ignore intermittent stalling problems, as they tend to worsen over time.

To address this issue, it is recommended to check if your Altima is affected by any active recalls for these sensors. Visit a Nissan recall center or consult with your local Altima dealership to determine if your model requires sensor replacement.

Resolving this problem promptly can help ensure smooth engine operation and prevent unexpected stalling incidents.

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2. Thermostat Stuck Closed, Creating an Overheating Situation

Nissan Altimas manufactured between 1995 and 2010, as well as the 2016 model, have been associated with incidents of overheating. Mechanics have identified a stuck thermostat as the common culprit behind this problem.

When the thermostat fails to open, it restricts coolant flow and causes the engine to overheat.

If your Nissan Altima is experiencing overheating due to a stuck thermostat, it is crucial to address the issue promptly. Failure to do so may lead to engine damage, resulting in expensive repairs.

Consult a professional mechanic who can diagnose the problem accurately and replace the thermostat as necessary.

Taking swift action can prevent further complications and ensure optimal engine cooling.

3. Check the Engine Light Due to Oil Leak

Altima models produced between 1993 and 2015 have reported issues with oil leakage into the vehicle’s connectors, primarily related to the crankshaft and camshaft position sensors.

This oil leakage can cause the vehicle to stall unexpectedly, accompanied by a check engine light illuminating the dashboard.

If you observe oil leaking from the sensors, it is essential to replace the affected parts promptly. Faulty sensors can compromise the engine’s performance and lead to potential safety hazards.

If your Altima experiences intermittent stalling, especially around 100,000 to 150,000 miles, it is worth checking the sensors as a potential cause.

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By addressing the oil leak issue, you can ensure the proper functioning of these critical engine components.

4. Front Struts Wear Out Sooner Than Expected

Another commonly reported problem in Nissan Altimas is premature wear of the front struts. If you notice a loud knocking noise, particularly when driving over bumps or uneven surfaces, it may indicate a problem with the struts.

When confronted with this issue, it is advisable to have your vehicle examined by a professional mechanic.

Worn-out struts can compromise the vehicle’s stability and safety, making it essential to replace them promptly.

Factors such as tire inflation and driving conditions can contribute to accelerated strut wear. By addressing this problem, you can restore a smooth and comfortable ride quality while ensuring the overall safety of your Altima.

5. Misfires, Rough Idles, and Check Engine Light

Around 150,000 miles, some Nissan Altima owners may experience misfires, rough idles, and a lit check engine light on the dashboard. In many cases, the culprit behind these symptoms is a faulty intake manifold gasket.

To diagnose and resolve this issue, it is recommended to have an automotive technician inspect the intake manifold gasket for any vacuum leaks.

Addressing engine vacuum leaks promptly is crucial, as they can lead to more severe problems, including catalytic converter damage.

By replacing the intake manifold gasket, you can restore smooth engine operation and prevent further damage to critical components.

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6. Engine Mounts Wear Out and Create Excessive Movement

Altima models produced from 1998 to 2017 have been prone to right engine mount failure. A failed engine mount can result in engine instability, leading to vibrations during idling or loud noises when shifting gears.

If you notice vibrations or abnormal noises from the engine, it is essential to investigate the issue promptly.

Engage a professional mechanic who can inspect and replace worn-out engine mounts.

While it is possible to replace only the failed mounts, replacing all the mounts simultaneously is often recommended to prevent premature wear on the remaining mounts.

Timely replacement of engine mounts will restore stability and smooth operation to your Altima.

7. Altima with 3.5L V6 Engines Can Leak Oil after Oil Changes

Owners of Altima models equipped with a 3.5L V6 engine may encounter oil leakage after performing an oil change. Symptoms of an oil leak include oil spots in your parking area or driveway and, in more severe cases, a low oil warning light on the dashboard.

This problem often arises due to the attachment of the oil filter to the cooler, which can disrupt the proper sealing of the O-ring.

If you observe oil leakage, it is recommended to replace the o-ring by removing the oil filter and oil cooler. Although replacing the oil cooler is not always necessary, it is a proactive measure to prevent future leaks.

Ignoring an oil leak can lead to low oil levels and potential engine damage, making it vital to address the issue promptly.

If you encounter any of these problems, consult with a professional mechanic or your local Nissan dealership for accurate diagnosis and appropriate solutions.

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Regular maintenance, prompt repairs, and addressing recalls when applicable can help ensure the longevity and trouble-free operation of your Nissan Altima.

How many miles can an Altima last?

Nissan Altimas can last as long as 250,000 to 300,000 miles if the consumer makes an effort to take proper care of them. That means the car can deliver approximately fifteen to twenty years of reliable performance.

What years did Nissan Altima have a bad transmission?

The previous Nissan Altima generation (2007 to 2012) is also prone to poor CVT operation and failure. Because of these issues, Nissan extended the Altima’s powertrain warranty (2007 to 2010 models only) to cover CVT problems for up to 10 years or 120,000 miles.

Which year of the Nissan Altima is most reliable?

Model years 2011 and 2012 are perhaps the best. Reliability is top-notch, and registered complaints are minimal. Nissan Altima’s worst model years include 2002, 2003, 2009, and 2013-2015. From engine and powertrain failures to faulty electricals, these models are best avoided.

Why was the Altima discontinued?

The Nissan Altima Coupe was discontinued due to slow sales after the 2013 model year, which means Nissan will only focus on the sedan model for the Altima while the hybrid and coupe are discontinued. The Advanced Drive-Assist Display was added in 2013.

Does Nissan Altimas still have transmission problems?

A class action lawsuit representing owners and lessees of 2013–2016 Nissan Altima cars has since reached a settlement. However, 2017–2021 Nissan Altima cars still face recurring safety issues with their CVT transmissions, with some consumers calling for a recall of these vehicles.


The Nissan Altima has had its fair share of problems over the years, but there are also reliable and long-lasting options available. It’s crucial for potential buyers and current owners to be aware of the common issues associated with specific model years.

If you’re considering purchasing a used Nissan Altima, it’s advisable to steer clear of the 2002, 2003, 2009, and 2013-2015 models.

These years have been marked by engine and powertrain failures, as well as electrical problems.

On the other hand, the 2011 and 2012 Altima models have shown great reliability and minimal registered complaints.

Conduct a thorough inspection, preferably with the assistance of a professional mechanic, and ensure any recalls or necessary repairs are addressed before making a purchase.

Being informed about the Nissan Altima’s history of issues empowers potential buyers to make educated decisions and helps current owners identify and address problems promptly. By doing so, you can enjoy the reliability and longevity the Altima can offer.

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