Are Nissan Altimas Good Cars? [Nissan Altima Reliability]

Since 1992, the Nissan Altima has stood the test of time and continues to evolve with new designs and features. Now, get this, about 1.5 million Nissan Altimas were sold in the United States alone between 2005 and 2010. So, does the Nissan Altima make an excellent and affordable car?

The Nissan Altima is a decent mid-size car with strong engines, good fuel economy, and a smooth ride. It has a 9.6 out of 10 safety rating and can handle winter roads extremely well. Moreover, it has good reliability ratings as it ranks 11th out of 24 midsize cars on the RepairPal Reliability scale, with a 4 out of 5. The average repair cost is less than $500.

Read on to learn more about the Nissan Altima, its reliability, and which model years are the best. 

How Reliable Is the Nissan Altima?

are nissan altimas good cars
2019 Nissan Altima

The Nissan Altima is a sleek mid-size sedan known for its roomy cabin, excellent safety rating, and good fuel economy.

It also has supportive seats, excellent vision, and a comfortable driving position. The Nissan Altima is 11th out of 24 midsize cars on the RepairPal Reliability scale, and it has a six-speed manual transmission or a variable automatic transmission. 

Thanks to the CVT, the acceleration is smooth, and the fuel economy is among the best in its class. Although the 4-cylinder engine is slightly noisy when pushed, the ride is quite smooth.

The interior is warm and inviting. The fit and quality are excellent, and even the cloth seats have an expensive feel to them. 

Best Nissan Altima Years

1. 2019

Still a Top Choice Among Car Enthusiasts

The 2019 Nissan Altima is still a top choice among car enthusiasts. This model year was a step in the right direction for the Nissan brand. Its sharper lines and crisper sheet metal make it look better than most competitors.

Cleaner and Sharper on the Outside

Nissan boasts that the 2019 Altima is “impossibly smart” in the latest generation. It is cleaner and sharper on the outside, with the neater hood and shunt lines on the front fenders’ top. 

2. 2012

Has a Convenience Package

The 2012 Nissan Altima is almost a flawless car, to put it mildly. 

It is attractive, nimble, well-equipped, safe, and reasonably priced. You also get a “convenience package” on this car’s midlevel 2.5 S trim. 

Package Inclusion

This package includes the following:

  • Leather-wrapped steering wheel,
  • An eight-way power driver’s seat,
  • Steering-wheel-mounted audio controls, and
  • Bluetooth connectivity.

Has a 2.5-liter Four-cylinder Engine

It would be an exaggeration to say the Altima’s 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine is a powerhouse, but it is decent and performs well. Don’t use this car to get in a drag race with friends.


The basic retail price for the 2012 Nissan Altima is $20,410.

4. 2016

The Nissan Altima 2016 has consistently been one of the best performances in the class, particularly when equipped with the V6 engine. 

With this model, the Altima’s nose and tail undergo a makeover. Nissan reshaped Its hood and fenders, lowered the front fascia, and updated the grille to reflect the latest Altima design.

5. 2017

Exceptional Passenger Comfort and Robust Performance

The 2017 Nissan Altima has relatively few flaws. It will keep you happy with its exceptional passenger comfort and robust performance.

Best Choice if You Want a More Interesting Driving Experience

The sporty SR is the best choice if you want a more interesting driving experience. It has a five-star safety rating, making it a very appealing option.


It has a 2.5-liter I-4 engine that produces 179 horsepower and gets an EPA-estimated 27/39 mpg city/highway (26/37 mpg for the SR variant). The 2017 Altima also has a 3.5-liter V-6 engine with 270 horsepower for faster acceleration.

Both engines are connected to a CVT, which sends power to the sedan’s front wheels.

Other Features

The 2017 Altima also features a 4.0-inch advanced display, push-button ignition, tilt and telescoping steering wheel, and active grille shutters for improved fuel economy.

“Remote Engine Start” Technology

Another feature is the “Remote Engine Start” technology which can adjust your car’s temperature to optimal levels.

6. 2020

Well-equipped Midsize Car with Plenty of Space

The 2020 Altima is a well-equipped midsize car with plenty of space. 

Five Trim Levels

With five trim levels available for this model year, you will certainly find one that lives up to your expectations. 

Equipped with “Driver-assist” Technology

The “driver-assist” technology in the 2020 Altima makes it a great road warrior. Thanks to features like built-in traction control and clever all-wheel drive, you will always be in command of what this sedan does. The latter adjusts the amount of road grip to the driver’s environment.

Engine Options

It comes with a four-cylinder engine capable of producing 188 horsepower and 180 pound-feet of torque.

There’s also a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine that can generate up to 273 pound-feet of torque while producing 248 horsepower. So, it is fair to say you should expect instant power and acceleration.

Safety Features

The 2020 Nissan Altima also comes with improved safety features. To name a few: 

  • Blind-spot warning 
  • Rear-automatic braking
  • Lane-departure warning

Nissan has also installed many airbags to protect people from all sides.

Nissan Altima Years to Avoid

are 2017 nissan altimas good cars
2002 Nissan Altima

1. 2002

Received More Than 1000 Complaints from Drivers

Before 2002, the Nissan Altima was a wallflower, although an excellent one. It was neither fish nor fowl, as the adage goes. It also only had a four-cylinder engine. In 2002, the Nissan Altima received more than 1000 complaints from drivers.

Excessive Oil consumption

The main issue with this model year was the excessive oil consumption, which crippled the 2002 model’s entire performance.

Other Issues

The 2002 Altima also had other problems, such as a broken catalytic converter and a severe exhaust system.

Furthermore, many car owners complained that their car would often emit smoke from the engine thanks to the excessive oil consumption.

We should also note that resolving this issue could cost more than $2000, which is quite expensive. 

2. 2009

Has a Sportier Feel Than Many Other Midsize Vehicles

The 2009 Altima has a sportier feel than many other midsize vehicles, and it has a decent interior for the money. The cabin materials are of higher quality than those found in other budget-friendly vehicles, the engines are snappy and powerful for the class, and the safety ratings are good.

Has a Serious Gearbox Issues

But, two drawbacks are serious gearbox issues and a smaller cabin than the competitors. 

The other thing is that the 2009 model got more complaints than other midsize cars, with prices ranging from $5,863 to $8,417. 

Transmission and Steering Issues

The Altima’s transmission and steering issues cause long-term dependability problems and a lower lifespan than its competitors, lasting only 150,000 miles.

Bottom line, the 2009 model year should be avoided.

3. 2013

A Midsize Car with a Price Range of $10,047 to $13,495

The 2013 Nissan Altima is a midsize car with a price range of $10,047 to $13,495 and is available as a coupe or sedan. It has more passenger space than other midsize cars, a good cabin for the money, and good safety ratings.

Several Technical and Quality Issues

With that being said, it has a slew of technical and quality issues. Expensive transmission breakdowns are prevalent, the cabin is louder than competitors, and the steering wheel gets disconnected at times.

Transmission Breakdowns Happen Almost Every 55,000 Miles

Moreover, those transmission breakdowns happen almost every 55,000 miles on average. Nissan extended the transmission warranty to ten years or 120,000 miles to account for the high failure rate. Replacements cost more than $3,000 if your car is out of warranty.

Bottom line: The 2013 Altima has a few advantages, such as a spacious interior. But, transmission failures and steering wheel issues are among the drawbacks. Overall, there are better options out there than the 2013 Nissan Altima.

Again, is the Nissan Altima a good car? The Nissan Altima is a good car due to its 9.6 out of 10 safety rating. It also has a robust engine and excellent fuel economy. It can also provide a safe and relaxing ride, even on winter roads.

4. 2016

Has a Serious Gearbox Issues

The 2016 Nissan Altima is one of the worst model years, with serious gearbox issues which affect the overall lifespan, reliability, and performance. The Nissan Altima has had some issues with the transmission throughout the years, and the 2016 model year is no exception.

Average Repair Cost

Lack of reliability, recalls, and common gearbox problems plague this model year. The average repair cost is around $3,300. 

Based on information from 1,099 owner reviews and 19 government and automotive sources, 2016 was certainly a bad year for the Nissan Altima.

Does Nissan Altima Last Long?

Popular for Its Dependability and Long Lifespan

When buying a new car, the first thing that comes to mind is how long it will last. While it all depends on how well you maintain it, the Nissan Altima is known for its dependability and long lifespan. It can easily travel far beyond 150,000 miles.

A Well-maintained Altima Can Last More Than 14 Years

It has shown repeatedly to be a solid and trustworthy car. We don’t have a crystal ball, so we can’t predict how long your Nissan Altima will survive, but there is evidence that a well-maintained Altima can last more than 14 years. 

Some Altima owners claim that their vehicles are still performing well even though they have traveled more than 120,000 miles.

One wrote that his 2012 Altina was still going well even with 160,000 miles. Another person claimed that her 2019 Nissan Altima had 230,000 miles and only had a few transmission issues.

Average Lifespan

It is fair to say, though, that the average lifespan of the Nissan Altina is 12 to 14 years or 180,000 to 200,000 miles. 

Nissan Altima Main Features 

are 2015 nissan altimas good cars

1. Great Road Control with Intelligent All-Wheel Drive (AWD)

Allows You to Control the Car When You Are Behind the Wheel Fully

You want to feel confident that you’re fully controlling your car when behind the wheel. You want to feel linked to the car and the road, and the Intelligent All-Wheel Drive (AWD) allows you to do so. 

The Altima is Nissan’s first sedan to include this technology, and it has the potential to transform the driving experience dramatically. It’s the feature you’d expect to see in an SUV but not in a sedan.

Allows for Improved Handling Regardless of the Weather

The AWD allows for improved handling no matter what the weather throws at you. This clever system will monitor the road conditions and then provide the car with the appropriate amount of traction in the appropriate regions. 

Reacts to Changes with Breakneck Speed

It reacts to changes with breakneck speed, giving you more control no matter what the road conditions are. You will be glad to have so much control behind the wheel, whether it is rain, mud, wet pavement, or anything else. It can help you gain confidence regardless of your situation.

Distributes Power to All Four Wheels for Optimum Responsiveness and Traction

The system distributes power to all four wheels for optimum responsiveness and traction when you enable this AWD. AWD sends power only to the front wheels when driving conditions are normal.

2. High Tech

Equipped with a Multitude of Technology Tools

The Nissan Altima is equipped with a multitude of technology tools. It features Android Auto and Apple CarPlay and an advanced navigation system.

Nissan Connect Services Skill” for Amazon Alexa

With the “Nissan Connect Services Skill” for Amazon Alexa, you can use your voice to lock and unlock doors, start the car remotely, flash the lights, etc. It is also compatible with Google Assistant.

Other High-tech Features

The Nissan Altina also features a high-resolution display, an instrument cluster, and a premium audio system. There are also heated front seats, a heated steering wheel, and dual-zone automatic temperature control options.

Nissan Altina Common Problems

1. Faulty Electricals and Engine Issues

These include overheating, whining noises, loss of power, shaking, and, in some cases, outright failure. At times, the transmission also fails, with gears slipping or hesitating when shifting.

Moreover, the NHTSA has received many complaints about error codes that cause the check engine light of the Nissan Altina to illuminate suddenly.

2. Airbag, Suspension, and Structural Issues

The majority of the airbag recalls are due to a software flaw that can prevent the airbags from deploying properly in the case of a collision.

A rear door often opens when your car window is dropped, or a hood latch would suddenly break for no reason.

3. Powertrain Failure 

Powertrain issues are the third most common problem for the Nissan Altima. 

CVT problems include slipping gears or not shifting and engine problems such as failure to start.

4. Clutch Issues

Clutches are used in both automatic and manual transmissions. When accelerating, these clutches might cause automatic gearbox sliding. 

Then, the clutch plates might wear down and eventually get damaged due to a lack of transmission fluid.

Nissan Altima Top Maintenance Tips

1. Oil Change

As a general rule, you should change the oil every three months or 6,000 to 8,000 miles.

2. Tire Rotation

Because the front two tires of your car hold most of its weight, we recommend that you rotate the tires to distribute the load properly over all four tires. You can do so every time you replace your car’s oil.

Moreover, check your tires for any cracks or tears every other month. You can also use the penny test to see how deep the tread on your tire is.

3. Multipoint Inspection

It’s a good idea to have the following items inspected whenever you change the oil:

  • Fluid levels
  • Hoses
  • Inflation pressure
  • Tire tread depth
  • Battery
  • Belts
  • Air filters

4. Engine Filters 

Engine filters keep dirt and debris out of your engine. Do a regular check every 20,000 to 60,000 miles, 

According to the manufacturer’s recommendations, replace brake pads every 30,000 to 50,000 miles.

5. Battery

Inspect your battery for voltage dips regularly to ensure it is still performing well. Car batteries typically carry 12 to 13 volts unless you have a high-performance battery. 

Any voltage of more than 13 volts could mean you need a replacement. On average, you should replace the battery every three to five years.


Is the Nissan Altima a Reliable Car?

The Nissan Altima is undoubtedly a solid and reliable car when considering all factors. Altima’s key advantages include a low incidence of serious recalls, strong consumer ratings, and a fair maintenance cost.

What Is the Most Common Problem with the Nissan Altima?

The continuously variable transmission (CVT) is the main prevalent problem with the Nissan Altima. It is not quite responsive, and it limits the capabilities of later models. The CVT was prone to breakdown when first introduced in the fifth generation. 

Conclusion – Nissan Altima Put to the Test

The Nissan Altima is an excellent mid-size car with powerful engines and gas mileage. It boasts comfortable seating, adequate storage space, and a smooth ride. Plus, it has a 9.6 out of 10 safety rating.

Moreover, the Altima is unique in that it is Nissan’s first sedan to feature all-wheel drive (AWD), which is an excellent choice for those who live in snowy areas. You will be in full control of your car. 

The average repair cost of a Nissan Altima is less than $500. This makes it less expensive to own than the average car. Even more so, major repairs are so rare.

If you are looking for a reliable car, the Nissan Altima is a solid choice, and as long as the CVT is in good condition, you are good to go.

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