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Is a used Nissan Maxima reliable? If you choose the right car that an owner has cared for properly over the years, you could enjoy many additional years behind the wheel of one of these comfortable, premium large sedans. However, not all used Maxima cars are created equal. Learn how to choose a reliable used car and which Nissan Maxima cars to avoid when shopping.

Do used Nissan Maximas have a lot of problems?

Some of the most common complaints about the Nissan Maxima include:

  • Leaking AC hoses
  • Failed ignition coils
  • Leaking camshaft sensor
  • Leaking power steering pump

The pros at Vehicle History chose to look at used Maxima models from the sixth generation (2004) on—you’re not as likely to find a fifth-generation or older Maxima in your local listings. And, let’s be honest, buying a 20+-year-old car will come with its own collection of challenges regardless of brand. 

What problems does a Nissan Maxima have? Read on to learn more about the worst years of the Maxima sedan that you should never buy.

The 2004 Nissan Maxima had a lot of problems

Is a Nissan Maxima a reliable car? Not if you buy this one. Every one of the problems listed above, plus a rattling timing chain, showed up in the 2004 Maxima. Now, we do know that the first model year in a new generation is always slightly more likely to have problems than others. However, this used Maxima came with a whole host of issues and problems.

Avoid the 2005 Nissan Maxima unless you like headaches

The only used Maxima worse than the 2004 model? Possibly, the 2005 Maxima. This large car showed up with many of the same mechanical problems and failures from the year before. It was specifically at risk for leaking AC hose issues, timing chain rattle and tapping noises, and leaks in critical mechanical components.

Used Nissan Maximas between 2009-2014 were a big disappointment

This is a different group of Nissan Maximas to avoid. While used 2009-2014 Maxima large sedans didn’t have as many specific engine or mechanical problems, there were other issues. The seventh-generation car strayed from what made the Maxima great. Vehicle History claims that “the bland interior and exterior styling and lackluster powertrain disappointed long-time Maxima loyalists. Critics agree the CVT hampered Maxima’s performance and was ultimately unpleasant to drive.”

The 2016 Nissan Maxima should be avoided

Rear shot of a white 2016 Nissan Maxima coming off the assembly line. This is one of the worst Nissan Maximas to avoid.
2016 Nissan Maxima | Nissan

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While the 2016 Maxima didn’t have as many specific mechanical problems as the 2004 or 2005 Maxima flagship sedan, Vehicle History points out that this model year saw the most recalls. There were eight recalls for this model that the automaker filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). These problems included:

  • Leaking brake fluid
  • Airbag failure
  • Damaged antilock braking system
  • Loose mounting bolts in the front brake caliper
  • Fuel leaks

What’s the best used Maxima year to buy?

According to Consumer Reports, a used 2017 Nissan Maxima is one of the best pre-owned large sedans you can buy for the money. Later model years, including the 2021 and 2022 Maxima, are also likely to be reliable.

Interestingly, per Consumer Reports, two of the best used Maxima models to buy are those least recommended by Vehicle History. 

This shows that value can sometimes be in the eye of the beholder. Are you shopping for a used Nissan Maxima based on overall quality and reliability? Price alone? Features? Depending on what you’re looking for, the best and worst years of the Nissan Maxima may vary. However, it may be worth it no matter what to avoid these Maxima models.