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Nissan Altima: The Most Common Complaints You Should Know About

The Nissan Altima has been a solid vehicle for the Japanese automaker, and the 2020 Altima is no exception. It’s a sleek, eye-catching sedan loaded with amenities and a full suite of driver-assist features. The new Nissan Altima also has the honor of being a “Ward’s 10 Best Engines” award winner.

Accolades don’t always keep owners happy, however, and RepairPal.com had a few things to say about problems with past Nissan Altima years. Some issues are pretty serious, and there are some complaints that every owner should know about.

The Altima’s engine stalls

By far, the most complaints were due to the Nissan Altima’s engine stalling. It can be a very dangerous issue because the car stalls while underway, bringing drivers to an abrupt stop in the middle of traffic. Other drivers experienced the stall while the car was parked.

This problem is often caused by a failed camshaft position sensor or a failed crankshaft position sensor. It can be challenging to detect the source because the problem comes and goes. For 2002, 2005, and 2006 Nissan Altima models with a 2.5-liter engine, there was a recall because of this issue. The recall replaced the sensors as needed. 

Catalytic converter failure

Another problem reported with the Nissan Altima is the check engine light coming on due to catalytic converter failure. When this happens the check engine light will come on. It’s not a good situation because the material from the catalytic converter can be drawn into the engine, causing damage. The high end of the repairs cost $2,185, so it isn’t a minor issue. Although 16 model years were affected – 1999 through 2015 – Nissan never issued a recall. 

Nissan Altima fuel pump problems

Models pose next to a NISSAN Altima at the Seoul Motor Show 2019 at KINTEX on March 28, 2019
The Nissan Altima | Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images

Nissan Altima owners reported that some Altima models had fuel pump failure prematurely. Symptoms include the car not starting, shaking while driving, and stalling at slow speeds. Nissan did issue a recall for this issue, with model years 1993, 1991, and 2001-2015 affected. Unfortunately, there is also a recall on 2019 Nissan Altima vehicles for a fuel pump issue, specifically, the fuel tubes leading to the fuel pump.

Engine won’t start or runs rough

On some Nissan Altima models, there is a problem with the engine not starting and/or the engine running roughly once it does start. This is an old problem that started in 1993 and continued straight through to 2008. Model years 2010 and 2015 are also affected. Customers complained that the car would start, stall, and then not start back up again, or after driving for awhile the car would shut off and not start again.

Other owners reported the car running very rough, and the engine cranking and cranking but not turning over. This problem was caused by the distributor driven by the camshaft leaking and causing a malfunction. 

Failed engine seal

Owners reported oil leaking from the engine of the Nissan Altima with a 3.5-liter V6 engine. This is due to the cooler o-ring leaking oil. The problem often happens after an oil change because the oil filter is attached to the cooler. Removing and reinstalling the oil filter can dislodge the seal. The problem is repaired by replacing the o-ring and sometimes the whole oil cooler. If the oil has been leaking for a long time, drivers would sometimes hear noise coming from the engine because of low oil pressure. 

These are the most common complaints with the Nissan Altima, though they have all been corrected in the 2020 Nissan Altima. If you suspect your Altima may have one of these problems or is part of a recall, take it into a Nissan dealership immediately.