Which Nissan Altima Years to Avoid and Why? (Explained)

If you’re a Nissan lover, then Nissan Altima might be on the top of your list. But you might not fix which model years to avoid? Which model years to focus on?

Problems in transmission, engine, steering, interior accessories are some of the most reported complaints about a few model years of Nissan Altima. However, the problems are almost similar in all the model years.  

From this article, you can fix your decision on which years model needs to avoid and which are safe to buy.

Nissan Altima Years to Avoid (List of Years)

Since 1992, Nissan was manufacturing one of its most reliable brands Nissan Altima. When it was first introduced in 1955 as a mid-size car, it was part of the Nissan Bluebird series.

For this time, Nissan Altima has introduced a lot of model years. All vehicle model years are not supposed to be equal. Some of them offer better reliability and fewer complications and some model years offer poor reliability ratings and a handful of complaints.

If you have decided to buy the Altima, we recommend that you avoid buying following year models as they have many reported problems.

  • 2002 Nissan Altima
  • 2005 Nissan Altima
  • 2009 Nissan Altima
  • 2013 Nissan Altima
  • 2014 Nissan Altima

Based on several factors such as repair cost and average mileage when problems occur, the 2013 Nissan Altima is rated as the worst model year. It has received the most overall complaints.

What Makes These Nissan Altima Years Worth Avoiding?

1. Nissan 2002 Years Problems

2002 model year is the first model of third-generation Altima. The biggest in class was the Altima’s fuel tank. This was the first time there was a V6 engine used.

All the experiments of this vehicle went in vain when about 1 thousand customers complained against the 2002 model years.

The 2002 Altima had major excessive oil consumption issues causing potential catastrophic engine failures. Some cases were because of owner neglect and other cases involved the catalytic converter failing, forcing foreign objects back into the exhaust manifold, the head gasket blows, and eventually, the entire engine needs replacement.

Most of those reports were received after the vehicle is beyond 100,000 miles and more than eight years old (beyond any warranties) and most of the reports had only to do with the 2002 model.

The most-reported problem of this model years was:

  • Excessive Oil Consumption
  • Catalytic Converter Failure
  • Transmission Problems
  • AC / Heater problems
  • Floors Rusting Out

It is the first worst model year that Nissan Altima has produced and undoubtedly a model year to avoid. 

2. Nissan 2005 Years Problems

The 2005 Nissan Altima received a facelift that includes a new front grille, redesigned interior, all-red taillights, and an optional DVD-based navigation system.

Still, around 1 thousand complaints had been reported. The 2005 Nissan Altima has two serious problems: a rusty underbody and a broken engine mount.

Also, the model year encounter the following issues:

  • Engine problems
  • Body/Paint Problems
  • Transmission Problems
  • Brakes Problems
  • Exterior Accessories Problems

This is another model year of Altima that had not satisfied the owner and is worth avoiding.

3. Nissan 2009 Years Problems

For the 2009 model year, the Nissan Altima has been updated with new front fascia, hood, and headlights, as well as new wheels and interior materials.

Electronic Stability Control is now standard on all Altima trims, including four-cylinder models.

But it has more complaints than the previous two worst model years of Altima. About 2 thousand complaints had been reported.

Steering wheel lock failure is a common issue for this model year. Suddenly, these vehicles can become almost impossible to start.  

The most common problems of this model year include:

  • Steering Problems
  • Transmission Problems  
  • Interior Accessories Problems
  • Engine Problems

Whining Noise That Increases with Speed

If you make a list of the worst model year of Nissan Altima, it will be in number two in the list and unquestionably another model year to avoid. 

4. Nissan 2013 Years Problems

2013 model year is the first model of fifth-generation Altima. This model year Altima is the worst model year to avoid with significantly higher complaints than any other model year.

About 3 thousand complaints had been reported. This model year Altima has multiple problem trends including CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission), a whining noise from the power steering pump, and constant windshield problems that appear to be the result of poor design.

Also, the owner of this model year reported the following problems:

  • Transmission Problems  
  • Interior Accessories Problems
  • Light Problems
  • AC/ Heater Problems
  • Steering Problems
  • Engine problems
  • Brakes Problems

It is the worst model year that Nissan Altima has ever produced from 1993 and received the highest number of recalls and complaints from the customers. It is definitely a model year to avoid. 

5. Nissan 2014 Years Problems

The 2014 Nissan Altima is another fifth-generation Altima. The model year shows multiple problem trends, continuing the poor reputation of the 2013 Altima.

About 1 thousand complaints had been reported. Mostly about vibration and even transmission failure related to the CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission).

Also, the customers reported the following issues:

  • Transmission Problems
  • Light Problems
  • Interior Accessories Problems
  • Steering Problems
  • Fuel System Problem
  • AC/ Heater Problems

To summarize, for saving the repairing cost, it is better to avoid this model year of Altima.

Which Years are Safe to Buy Used?

For the most part, buying a used Nissan Altima is safe. Just clarify model years that have known problems and avoid them. Below is a list of Nissan Altima models that are safe to buy.

Safe model year to buy:

  • 2001 Nissan Altima
  • 2003 Nissan Altima
  • 2004 Nissan Altima
  • 2006 – 2008 Nissan Altima
  • 2010 – 2012 Nissan Altima
  • 2015 – 2022 Nissan Altima

The list is based on the number and severity of complaints submitted by users. The above-mentioned model years have fewer complaints with less serious claims and cheap repairs.

The Altima 2011, a sports coupe with a refined aesthetic, is a great trim to choose from the above list. Also, the sixth generation Altimas (2018-present) are very much safe to buy.

The 2011 model year offers everything you need from the Altima with a more personalized approach. The 2011 Altima offers a lower-cost four-cylinder entry model with plenty of the best trim instead of a bland configuration.

Over at Car Complaints, the 2011 Altima simplest has eighty-two complaints. Customers are broadly speaking about its transmission gadget and body/paint.

The sixth-generation Altimas offer a variable compression turbo engine that will equip with the 4-cylinder engine that replaces the previous generation V6 powertrain.

The world’s first ready-to-produce turbocharged engine with a variable compression ratio where a continuously variable transmission connects all the engines.


If you can pick the right year, Nissan Altima will prove to be your best choice. To save repairing costs, it’s best to avoid the Altima model years we mentioned above and choose from the safe model years list.

For your safety, it is recommended that each vehicle be inspected to ensure it is properly maintained and all recall information is up to date.

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