Nissan Altima Reliability Guide (Problems, Recalls & Best Years)

Used Altimas can last for many years after you purchase them. You want to choose the vehicle that will be reliable and get you to where you need to go. You need the information to let you know how long the Nissan Altima is expected to last and which model is the best to buy based on price and reliability.

The Nissan Altima is a mid-size car that has been produced since 1992. An Altima is expected to last around 200,000 miles or 13 to 20 years. This depends on how well the vehicle is cared for and has followed Nissan’s suggestions for oil changes and other maintenance. Some Altima cars last longer than others.

A Nissan Altima is a good used car to buy because of its long-life expectancy. It is a good car for driving back and forth to work, for family vacations, and driving around the city. The Altima gets good gas mileage with 28 mpg in the city and 39 mpg on the highway.

Nissan Altima Reliability Scores

Reliability scores grade a vehicle on running consistently instead of being inoperable. They are based on the cost, frequency, and severity of repairs. Vehicles that have been recalled by Nissan are free of charge for repairs.

Here is some information about the reliability of different Altima models:

                            Nissan Altima Reliability Scores – J.D. Power Reliability Report

2001 Model          81/100
2002 Model           71/100
2007 Model          51/100
2011 Model          50/100
2015 Model          40/100
2022 Model          80/100

Worst Nissan Altima Years

Some Altima years have had more problems than other model years. They had a variety of problems that will be discussed below:

2001, 2002, 2003, and 2005 Models – These models have had engine faults that include high oil consumption, oil burning, head gasket issues, and bad motor mounts. Problems usually occurred around the 84,000-mile mark.

The cost of repairing engine issues ranges from $600-$3,500 depending on the problem.

2008, 2009, 2012-2016 Models – Altima models from these years often have transmission issues after 60,000 miles. Symptoms include gear stuck in Park and slipping out of gear.

The cost varies depending on whether repair or replacement of the transmission system is needed. The cost to replace a transmission is between $3,000 and $4,000.

2005, 2006 & 2013 Models – Paint peeling and chipping at very low mileage often occurred in these Altima models.

The cost of repairing paint on Altima models is around $1,000.

2008 & 2013-2015 – Some vehicles from these years had issues with interior accessories such as door handles, radio systems, and melting dashboards. The repair or replacement cost to fix interior issues was about $1,000.

Best Nissan Altima Years

There are many very good years when Altima models had very few problems. Many of these were easily fixed and not expensive. Here are some examples of good Altima models:

1996 Model – This model received a very good rating from of 4.2 out of 5.0. It is fun to drive and good-looking.

2019-2022 Models – 2019 was a new beginning for Altima vehicles when the 6th generation began. These vehicles were made with all-wheel-drive and stylish interiors.

Nissan Altima Vs. Other Cars in Its Class

The Nissan Altima is comparable to the Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, Mazda 6, and Kia Optima. If you’re wondering how long these cars last compared to the Nissan Altima in mileage, the following chart will answer your questions.

This chart does not take into consideration whether the car has had oil changes and filters replaced as well as other maintenance that affects the life of the car.

                     Car Make & Model            How Many Miles Does It Last
Nissan Altima Vs. Honda AccordAltima – 200,000 mi. Vs. Accord – 250,000- 300,000 mi.
Altima Vs. Toyota CamryAltima – 200,000 mi. Vs. Camry – 200,000-300,000 mi.
Altima Vs. Mazda 6Altima – 200,000 mi. Vs. Mazda 6 –200,000-250,000 mi.
Altima Vs. Kia OptimaAltima 200,000 mi. Vs. Optima –200,000 mi.

A vehicle’s maintenance cost may increase every year that it ages. The following chart shows the average cost of maintenance for an Altima:

Nissan Altima’s Maintenance Cost

              Age of Altima  Probability of Major Repair            Yearly Costs
                     1 yr.                     1.70%                   $200
                     2 yrs.                     2.80%                   $228
                     3 yrs.                     3.15%                   $279
                     4 yrs.                     5.60%                   $360
                     5 yrs.                     8.00%                   $425
                     6 yrs.                     9.00%                   $534
                     7 yrs.                     9.68%                   $750
                     8 yrs.                    12.50%                   $840
                     9 yrs.                    13.85%                   $916
                    10 yrs.                    16.40%                   $1,035
                    11 yrs.                    25.45%                   $1,050
                    12 yrs.                       31.62%                   $1,280
                                                 Altima Maintenance Cost as Vehicle Ages

The components in Altimas can last less than average or more than average. This depends on how well you take care of your Altima such as providing oil changes, tires, and other required maintenance. Here is some information on how long you can expect the brakes, tires, and transmission on an Altima to last:

How Long Do the Nissan Components Last?

Brakes Last Between 30,000 & 70,000 MilesTires Last 3-5 YearsThe Transmission Lasts About 7 Years
Pad Replacement — $168$300-$500 for each tireTransmission leak — $500-$1,120 per axle
Brake System Replacement of Pads & Rotors — $450 including parts & laborReplacement service including balancing — $65-$904Transmission slipping – solenoid switch — $190 plus labor
Brake System Replacement — $336 including parts & laborAlignment — $90-$100Clutch replacement — $1,120-$3200
 Valve stems — $15Transmission control module — $300-$1,120
  Complete transmission replacement — $1500-$4,000

Do Nissan Altimas Rust Quickly?

2002-2006 owners of Altimas have had the floors in their vehicles rust to the point that there were large holes in the floors. This can be dangerous for drivers and passengers. Even small holes are dangerous because they allow toxic fumes to enter the car interior.

To fix a rusted area on the floor, the mechanic needs to take the seats out, strip the carpet, and sand off the rust until there is a smooth metal surface. It isn’t possible to weld new pieces of metal to rust. They wouldn’t stick and the new metal would soon be rusty as well.

A rust class action suit was filed again Nissan and reached a settlement in early 2022. 2007 and 2008 vehicles are also included in the settlement. Only residents of Missouri were awarded settlements to repair holes in their car floors.

Most Common Nissan Altima Problems

Other car manufacturers have also produced vehicles with problems. The Nissan Altima has some common problems that other owners have been dealing with just as you have. We will discuss some of these issues and what it costs to replace the parts that cause problems in your vehicle.

Intake Manifold Gasket Replacement

A common problem in Nissan Altima model is with the intake manifold gasket. Altima owners may experience poor fuel economy because this gasket affects how much oxygen gets to the vehicle’s engine to start.

Other problems caused by the intake manifold gasket leaking are the engine not working efficiently or engine damage.

If unmetered air gets into the intake manifold, it can result in the wrong reading reaching the car’s computer system. It costs between $311 and $387 to fix a leak in an intake gasket.

Powertrain Control Module Replacement

The powertrain control module is made of two control modules. These are the Engine Control Module (ECM) and the Transmission Control Module (TCM). They form the powertrain control module which is a computer.

The Engine Control Module ensures that your vehicle operates in the best way possible. Most of the sensors in the engine are monitored by the ECM to be sure that the air-fuel mixture is okay and to regulate the pollution control systems in your vehicle. Powertrain Control Module Replacement costs between $950 and $1,030.

Water Pump Replacement

A water pump circulates coolant through the engine’s cooling system to help prevent the engine from overheating. The belt is at the front of the engine. The belt turns and makes the water pump work.

Some symptoms that your water pump is going bad are leaks that you can see in your driveway or on the pavement. Another symptom of a bad water pump is hearing noises.

If your water pump leaks, it can cause damage to the drive and timing belts, resulting in your vehicle overheating. The cooling system may have a problematic radiator, thermostat, or head gasket that causes issues like overheating.

The average for replacing a water pump is between $519 and $601.

Parking Brake System Adjust

The Nissan Altima Service Manual provides directions for Altima owners to adjust their parking brake system. If you do not have the knowledge for working on cars or the necessary tools, you might want to have your mechanic do this for you on your next visit to the shop.

You may need to have the parking brake adjusted if there is too much slack in it because it will not work in this case. When you activate the parking brake, the cable pulls on the brake shoes and causes them to clamp on the brake drum or rotor.

The price for a parking brake system adjustment is about $95 for labor. There are no parts replacements necessary.

Drive Axle Assembly Leak Inspection

Another problem that you may face with an Altima is a drive axle assembly leak inspection. Drive axles transmit power from the differential to the wheel hub. You may have some of these symptoms in your Altima:


  • The brakes do not stop as they should. You may notice that it is getting more difficult to stop your vehicle.
  • The backing plate for the brakes has fluid on it.
  • The Altima’s leak seems to worsen with time.

Fluid leaks in the drive axle assembly are checked for during regular maintenance of your Altima. They are not difficult for a mechanic to identify because there will be leakage noticed.

An inspection for a drive axle assembly leak costs between $44 and $56. Replacement of the drive axle drive assembly is more expensive and costs $223 plus $128 for parts and $95 for labor.

Sunroof Motor Replacement

Your Altima may have some sunroof problems such as being difficult to open and close and making sounds during the sunroof’s movement. Sunroofs are not cheap to replace, and problems with them can happen in any car or truck.

Lawsuits against Nissan accuse the company of using a bad tempering process for their sunroofs since 2008. Modern models of the Altima have problems with sunroof motors due to electrical problems and parts that help the motor to function.

The average Altima sunroof motor should last until 150,000 miles. 2021 and 2022 Altima models have had the least complaints about various issues, but the 2022 model has had numerous complaints related to the sunroof motor.

Sunroof motor failure can leave the sunroof stuck open or closed. If an Altima motor is stuck closed it can’t harm the interior of the vehicle if there are no leaks. If it is stuck in the tilted or open position, it must be repaired immediately to avoid dangers like a damaged interior in case of a storm.

The cost of replacing a sunroof motor is between $1,017 and $1,060.

Suspension Shock or Strut Replacement

Symptoms of shocks or struts in your Altima have some obvious symptoms such as bounciness that was not previously happening. Difficulty turning corners may also occur. If they do, it is time to have your mechanic examine your Altima.

Shocks and struts often need to be replaced between 50,000 and 100,000 miles, but problems with these parts can occur earlier. These parts should always be replaced as pairs such as two front shocks or two rear ones.

Problems with shocks and struts worsen gradually. It is not an emergency to have them replaced immediately, but the problem should not be ignored.

The price for a suspension shock or strut replacement in an Altima is between $782 and $843.

Nissan Altima Recalls

Recalls are repaired or replaced at no charge to the vehicle owner because they are an error or defect that is the responsibility of the car manufacturer. There have been some Altima recalls that are listed below:

21V138000 – 2,407 Altima 2020 and 2021 models were recalled due to an improperly tied tie rod ball joint.

20V185000 – This Nissan recall on the Altima was issued because certain vehicles may have been produced with over-cured tires. This presents a possibility of the treat coming off of the tire or a loss of air. Both issues create a greater chance of a crash. 2,214 Altima vehicles were recalled.

20V570000 – This Altima recall was issued because the rear glass of the vehicle may come off because it is not secured properly to the car.  150 vehicles were recalled.

Though no recall has been announced, there have been issues with the front passenger seat malfunctions just like in other models, such as the Nissan Leaf