The Most Common Nissan Problems

Transmission trouble, engine failure, and faulty interior components are the most common problems in Nissan cars.
Written by Patrick Price
Reviewed by Melanie Reiff
The majority of common Nissan problems are transmission-related issues. However, you should still keep an eye out for other typical Nissan troubles, such as engine failure, faulty interior components, and malfunctions in the steering system. 
It’s well known that Nissan makes some of the more durable budget-class cars on the market. Nissan owners who are diligent about their
car maintenance schedule
can expect their cars to last for years. However, the frequency and cost of required repairs calls into question the brand's overall reliability
Given the numerous scandals, lawsuits, and exposed deceptions surrounding Nissan over the past few years, drivers might be understandably hesitant to take the company at its word when it promises reliable automobiles. 
That’s one of the reasons why it’s so important for Nissan owners to familiarize themselves with the common problems that their vehicles might end up facing. 
car insurance
comparison super app—has prepared this diligent analysis of the most common problems in five of Nissan’s major models. Scroll through this article to learn about all the issues you should be looking out for, plus how to save money on your
Nissan insurance costs
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What are the most common Nissan problems?

Nissan is known for making affordable cars that last for years. Properly cared for, a Nissan vehicle can last for decades—but there’s more to reliability than just a car’s longevity. Reliability also refers to the frequency, severity, and repair/maintenance costs that are required to get the most out of a vehicle. 
Whether you’re already a Nissan owner or thinking of becoming one, you should be aware of the typical issues that the brand’s current models can expect. 
Here’s a quick rundown of the most common Nissan problems across all models:
  • Flawed/faulty transmissions
  • Frequent oil leaks
  • Backup cameras not functioning properly
  • Defective Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB) systems
  • Faulty airbags and airbag recalls
  • Leaking brake fluid 
  • Rust-prone body and frame
  • Defective hood-release latch 
  • Exploding Sunroofs scandal and lawsuits 
The 2013
Nissan Altima
has experienced more of these problems than any other model. With a staggering 12 total recalls and 2101 complaints to the
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)
, the 2013 iterations of the Altima is perhaps one of the least dependable vehicles ever created. 
Compared to some of Nissan’s consistently dependable models such as the
, the 2013 Altima looks especially deficient. 
For a detailed look at the common problem in Nissan’s current models, glance over the table below.
Starting price
J.D. Power reliability rating
Most common problems
Years to avoid
Stalling engine, faulty position sensors, faulty catalytic converter, malfunctioning fuel pump, engine won’t start, rough handling/idling
2002, 2005, 2009, 2013, 2016
Malfunctions in the backup camera/navigation system, premature wearing on the timing chains, issues with the AC/heating, ignition difficulty/failure, poor performance and sluggish acceleration, defective transmission, faulty Mass Air Flow Sensor, malfunctioning/inaccurate fuel level sensor
2005-2008, 2013-2020
Malfunctioning/inaccurate fuel level sensor, leaking radiator, faulty timing chains, leaking/failing transmission, clogged EGR valve, faulty fuel injector
Engine performs poorly or will not start, transmission problems, defective airbags, easily peeling and chipping, issues with the car’s body lacking normal structural integrity, faulty fuel sending unit
2005, 2006, 2007, 2008
Leaking AC hose, transmission failure, problems with the Electronic Steering Column Lock (ESCL), faulty service breaks, ignition coil failure, leaking power steering pump
2004, 2005, 2006, 2010, 2009, 2011
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Most common Nissan Altima problems

Average annual repair cost: $485 complaints: 5150
Most of Altima’s issues have been the result of sudden engine stalling, which could be caused by several problems. In the Altima, though, it is often related to faulty positioning of the
camshaft position sensor
and/or the
crankshaft position sensor
Other common problems frequently relate to the fuel delivery & injection system and/or the exhaust system. For instance, Altimas will often experience issues with faulty or malfunctioning fuel pumps or catalytic converters. These problems can reduce engine performance, inhibit ignition, and even cause lasting damage to some of the car’s critical components. 

Most common Nissan Pathfinder problems 

Average annual repair cost: $542 complaints: 2114
Many of the
Nissan Pathfinder
problems stem from a manufacturing defect that often causes a Pathfinder’s transmissions to die after only about 100,000 miles of use. 
Pathfinders also have been known to have various ignition-related issues. Furthermore, owners have reported occasional problems with faulty
mass air flow sensors
and/or fuel level sensors—both of which would lead to reduced performance
Other, less urgent, issues common in Pathfinders include:
  • Malfunctions in the backup camera/navigation system
  • Premature wearing on the timing chains
  • Issues with the
MORE: Why isn’t my car starting? A quick troubleshooting guide

Most common Nissan Xterra problems 

Average annual repair cost: $514 complaints: 1073
The most serious common
Nissan Xterra
problems are the occasional failing/leaking transmission, leaking radiator, defective timing chains, and faulty
fuel injector
. Additionally, Xterras sometimes have trouble with their
exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) tubes
not working properly—but that is usually just the result of carbon buildup and can be fixed with a simple cleaning. 

Most common Nissan Frontier problems 

Average annual repair cost: $470 complaints: 1009
Like most Nissans,
carry some risk of transmission trouble—which is the most common cause of problems with that model. Besides that, the Frontier is a fairly reliable vehicle.
That said, there are some production years that you should try to avoid. The 2005-2008 Frontiers, for instance, have more frequent transmission problems, radiators that often rupture, and faulty fuel sending units
Above all, you should never purchase a 2012 Nissan Frontier. A disaster of engineering, the 2012 iteration was plagued by defective airbags, faulty and unreliable brakes, rusted body frames, sluggish acceleration, increased risk of spontaneous electrical fires, and—worst of all—a wacky engine that will sometimes kick off into a violent and uncontrollable acceleration while you’re idling in the parking gear. 
So, unless you’re eager to get trapped in a runaway car traveling at max speeds with unreliable brakes and faulty airbags, you should probably keep your distance from the 2012 Frontier. 

Most common Nissan Maxima problems

Average annual repair cost: $540 complaints: 1398
Nissan Maxima
is notorious for its numerous transmission problems. The issues include sluggish acceleration, sudden jerks forward, rough gear transitions, stalling, and the eventual total failure of the transmission. 
Even if your Maxima’s transmission is working fine, you’ll need to contend with the numerous other common Nissan Maxima problems. Here are the top offenders for Maxima issues:
MORE: How to check and add power steering fluid

Are Nissan cars reliable?

Despite all of these issues, Nissan is still considered one of the most reliable car manufacturers today.
Nissan safety ratings
are impressive, and Nissan’s overall J.D. Powers reliability rating is 4.0 out of 5.0—good enough to earn them the number 6 spot on the list of most reliable car companies. Out of a total of 32 teams, 6th place isn’t too bad! 

The least reliable Nissan model: the 2013 Altima

Most common problem: Faulty crankshaft sensor
NHTSA complaints: 2101
With 12 different recalls on its record, the 2013 Nissan Altima is a symphony of technical and electrical failures. It’s just about as unreliable as a car can be. In case you’re ever unfortunate enough to find yourself driving one of these disasters, here’s a quick glimpse at just a few of the numerous issues that you have to look forward to. 
  • Faulty crankshaft and/or camshaft sensors
  • Fuel pump failures
  • Ignition problems
  • Rough handling and ride
  • Faulty seal on the engine oil cooler
  • Faulty or failing AC

The most reliable Nissan model: the 2013 Murano

Most common problem: Rattling from liftgate and timing chain 
NHTSA complaints: 62
At the other extreme, you’ll find the stalwart and ever-dependable 2013 Nissan Murano—Nissan’s most reliable creation. Starting at $31,000, the Murano is the perfect low-cost and low-maintenance SUV. 
The 90/100 J.D. Power reliability rating speaks for itself; Nissan Murano's problems are few and far between—at least for the 2013 iteration. Some drivers may notice a faint noise from the liftgate (which doesn’t always close properly) and benign rattling from the timing chain. Beyond that, there aren’t many issues to speak of. 

How to buy hassle-free car insurance

Any car, no matter how dependable, is going to need regular maintenance—and probably more than a few repairs throughout its lifetime. All that work can add up to some pretty steep expenses. 
That’s why you need quality
car insurance
—and you need to be able to get it for an affordable price without long lines, mounds of paperwork, or any of the other hassles that usually go along with getting insured. 
As luck would have it, you’re in just the right place! Finding a low
Nissan insurance cost
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The best part is that drivers who use the Jerry app save an average of $800+ a year!
All you need to do is download the app, check the results, and tap to choose whichever policy you like best! Then, Jerry will help you get your new policy all set up. If you had a previous policy in place, Jerry will even cancel it for you! 
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If you keep up on the regular maintenance, Nissans can easily last as long as 20 years or 300,000 miles!
While Nissans can last a long time, they’re probably going to need a good bit of maintenance and repair. Over the years all that money you’re spending at the mechanic adds up—that’s why the frequency and cost of repairs are taken into account when determining a car’s reliability.
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