A comfortably sized sedan with respectable fuel efficiency and solid safety ratings, the Nissan Altima is a good car to buy used. However, some models are simply not worth your time. Here are the most important Nissan Altima years to avoid.
Nissan Altima years to avoid include Altimas from 2003 to 2006, 2009 models, 2013-2014, and 2019 models. Each of these model years suffer from costly defects that when purchased without manufacturers warranty, can be a real financial headache.
Truth be told, the third, fourth, and fifth generation weren’t the best for the Altima. The sixth generations aren’t exempt from flaws, either. But if you are in the market for a vehicle, we’ll explain exactly why you should avoid these Nissan Altima years.
So, if you have your heart set on purchasing a Nissan Altima, here are the years to avoid.
Third-Generation Altimas from 2003 to 2006
The 2002 model, like some others from the early 2000s, suffered from oil consumption, causing it to consume far too much oil. While the problem is manageable with more frequent oil changes, it increases the risk of damage to the engine. Not to mention increased maintenance costs, too.
Generally, 2002 Altima engines when maintained can go beyond 100,000 miles. But, if you don’t keep an eye on the oil consumption problem, a replacement engine will cost you $3000 or more to replace.
If you are considering MY2002 Altima, check to make sure the Crank Position Sensor and CAM Position Sensor recall has been performed. Failure to have this recall performed may result in the vehicle suddenly losing all engine power while at speed.
The 2005-2006 model continued the trend of engine and sensor complaints, but also has some noteworthy problems of its own. For example, customers reported timing chain, motor mount, and floor pan issues.
The floor pan issue seemed to affect a larger majority of 2005-2006 Altima vehicles. Owners report finding the passenger and/or drivers side floor panel rusted through. This defect creates a dangerous situation for occupants.
So if considering a MY2005-2006 Altima, be sure to inspect the floorboards underneath the vehicle for major rust.
Fourth-Generation 2009 Models
The 2009 model fixed many of the earlier complaints about oil consumption and rusty floor boards, but due to a faulty electric steering column lock, these cars may sometimes refuse to start.
In fact, one owner complaint summed it up best:
Steering column locks, causing key Fob to not be recognized. Hence, car will not start. This s/b recalled for a fix.NHTSA Complaint: 11502159
Nissan has acknowledged the issue, but because the 2009 Altima isn’t under a recall for this issue, it may cost up to $1000 to repair once identified.
If the previous owner has already rectified the electric steering column lock issue, then the car might be worth considering. If not, just factor that $1000 repair into your purchase consideration.
Fifth-Generation 2013-2104 and 2018 Models
The 2013 and 2014 models see an issue with the transmission. Alarmingly, 2013 and 2014 models may need replacement after just 55,000, much shy of the standard 150,000 to 200,000 miles. Naturally, transmission replacements are not cheap. And for many owners, it’s a signal that it’s time to invest in a new car altogether.
As such, be careful if you’re offered a used 2013 and 2014 model. The last thing you want is a vehicle that’s about to suffer a transmission failure in the near future. A replacement transmission would lighten your bank account to the tune of $4,400-$5,420 according to KBB.
This generation of Altima’s also suffered from headlight issues. In fact, a class action lawsuit resulted in a settlement that required Nissan to replace the defective halogen headlamps commonly found in Altima vehicles of this generation.
The degradation of the headlamps’ internal reflective surface led to a gradual dimming of the low beam headlights. This effected the overall brightness of the projected light. Consequently, driving at night with headlights that emit less light than when they were new poses a serious safety risk.
One owner described the headlight problem like this:
Headlights so dimmed you cannot see at night. Without using my high beams. I have all ready received 3 verbal warnings for driving with high beams. My understanding there was a recall I missed out in due to lost mail I assume but Nissan refuses to fix it and trying to charge me $2000 for there safety defect. I cannot afford to get this fixed out of pocket and it’s a safety issue. If it’s a recall that’s a safety issue it should be a Nissan repair.d this vehicle after the settlement so of course we missed it. My son drives this car to and from college two and a half hours away. I cannot understand why nothing is being done. When he drives at night, he has to have high beams on and even then, they are not the brightest. I know we are not the only ones, I have researched it and seen countless complaints about the headlights.NHTSA Complaint: 11539610
If you have your heart set on a used MY2013-MY2018 Nissan Altima, be sure to pick a model with either the Xenon or LED headlamps. Our advice – avoid any Altima model with the Halogen headlights.
Sixth-Generation 2019 Model
Just as Nissan solved the issues with the previous Altima models, new one’s emerged. This time, in the form of electronic problems.
And like so many other vehicles equipped with advanced electronics, a few peculiarities emerged. From key fob and door lock problems, to issues with the Forward Collision Avoidance system.
One 2019 Nissan Altima owner described the electrical issues like this:
My back doors do not lock with the FOB. I have to manually unlock and lock my rear doors. My driver side door is starting to not work as well. This is a major safety issue that Nissan seems to not care about. My car only has 35,000 miles on it.NHTSA Complaint: 11473050
Truth be told, this particular model year really seems hit or miss with both these problems. While issues with the door locks and key fob may seem like a nuisance, it appears as Nissan hasn’t yet offered a fix.
The MCV team recommends doing your car reliability research before considering a 2019 Altima. Ask the dealership to run a recall report on the vehicle. If all checks out, it may be still be a good purchase – just keep in mind the issues reported above.
Final Thoughts: Nissan Altima Years To Avoid
Knowledge is power when it comes to buying used cars, and there are definitely a few Nissan Altima years you should be avoiding when you’re shopping around.
According to Car Figures, since 2005 Nissan has sold over 4 million Altima vehicles. So while there are a few poor model years to avoid, there are plenty of others worth your money.
Hopefully, this article has given you some insight into which models of Nissan Altima simply aren’t worth your time. If you have any questions, drop them in the comments section below.👇