Cars

This Is the Worst Nissan Altima Model Year You Should Avoid at All Costs

The Altima is one of automaker Nissan’s oldest and most popular vehicles. That also means it’s one of the popular vehicles for used car shoppers to choose from. Not all vehicle model years are the same, however, with some offering better reliability and fewer complications than other years. But how do you know which model years to focus on and which ones to avoid? There’s the Nissan Altima model year you should definitely stay away from.

The one Nissan Altima model year to avoid

A 2013 Nissan Altima on display at an auto show.
A 2013 Nissan Altima on display | Mario Tama/Getty Images

After compiling its data from all consumer complaints, CarComplaints.com can not only tell you which problems a specific vehicle may be likely to have but also which model years are better than others. When it comes to the Nissan Altima, it is very obvious that a few years have made owners happier than others. CarComplaints.com’s data clearly shows that one model year is worse than any other, with a significantly higher number of complaints than any other model year. 

According to CarComplaints.com, the 2013 Nissan Altima is the very worst model year of the bunch. Not only does it carry the highest number of complaints, at an astounding 820, but it’s also voted by the experts as the overall worst model year. As if you needed more reasons to stay away, the 2013 Nissan Altima is also awarded the “Avoid Like the Plague” badge, due to the severity of problems, amount of problems, and the fact that this model year is now out of warranty.

The 2013 Nissan Altima didn’t fare well according to Consumer Reports, which gives it the lowest-possible owner satisfaction rating of one (out of five). Reliability isn’t much better, getting a cool reliability rating of three.

But some areas scored lower in reliability than others, with transmission issues and body integrity earning the lowest reliability scores. And according to Consumer Reports, the 2013 Altima has been recalled a total of 11 by the NHTSA for a variety of complications.

What are the most common complaints about used Nissan Altimas?

There are more than 272 reported problems alone regarding the 2013 Altima’s transmission. More than 160 of those complaints report problems with the CVT, including “shuttering, vibration, hesitation, running roughly.” But more than 60 of these complaints claim transmission failure, earning CarComplaint.com’s Severity Rating of 9.2 (out of 10).

While most complaints regarding vibration and shuttering seem to begin around 50,000 miles, transmission failure occurs at an average of 78,200 miles and is more expensive to fix. Other common complaints about the 2013 Nissan Altima include the gear shift getting stuck in park, the transmission shifting at stop/idle, and growling noises from the transmission at lower RPMs.

But the problem voted worst about the Nissan Altima, regardless of the model year, is engine problems. According to CarComplaints.com, the average engine problem in a used Altima can cost around $2,000. But the worst engine problems can cost more than $3,000 and occur around 100,000 miles.

Best used model years to consider

After looking at CarComplaints.com’s model year comparison of the Nissan Altima, the data proves some model years were made better and would be less likely to give you costly problems down the road. And this important data includes models dating back to 1993.

While the 2011 Nissan Altima has only 78 total complaints, newer used models are even better yet. The 2016 Nissan Altima receives 78 complaints as well, but may still be under warranty for used buyers. The 2017 models have only gathered a low total of 15 owner complaints. Most of the complaints for this year were about transmission and steering problems.