Nissan Altima Problems: 7 Common Issues (Explained)

Do you own a Nissan Altima, or are you thinking about buying this sedan soon?

If so, it’s a good idea to go over the most common issues with this vehicle and probable causes and solutions to these problems.

We’ve already dived into how long a Nissan Altima will last and now it’s time to look into potential issues you might face with the Altima models.

After you weigh all the pros and cons, you’re ready to make an informed decision.

Engine Stalling When the Vehicle is Warmed Up

Many Nissan Altima models from 1993 to 2017 have reported problems with the sedan stalling, even when the engine is warmed up.

Probable Causes and Solutions

One of the reasons an Altima may stall, even if the engine is warmed up, can be traced back to a problem with the crankshaft position sensor.

If that sensor fails, the vehicle may be prone to stalling.

If the crankshaft position sensor is not the root of the problem, it’s a good idea to check out the camshaft position sensor.

Issues with stalling can be intermittent, but shouldn’t be left unchecked because the problem will progressively get worse.

This problem is common enough that certain models have active recalls for both sensors. Visit a Nissan recall center to see if your model is affected.

If there is a recall for your Altima make and model, you can make an appointment with your local Altima dealership to have the problem corrected.

Thermostat Stuck Closed, Creating an Overheating Situation

Nissan Altimas created between 1995 and 2010, and the 2016 model have had issues with the sedan overheating.

When examined by a mechanic, it was determined that the thermostat on these vehicles was stuck shut, which allowed the engine to overheat.

Probable Causes and Solutions

If a mechanic has determined your Nissan Altima is overheating due to its thermostat being stuck shut, the problem can be eliminated by replacing the vehicle’s thermostat.

It’s essential that you replace the vehicle thermostat as soon as you realize there is a problem.

If the problem is not corrected right away, it could create damage to the engine, which could be expensive to correct.

Check Engine Light Due to Oil Leak

Another problem associated with the Altima’s crankshaft and camshaft position sensors, in models made from 1993 to 2015, is that oil can leak into the vehicle’s connectors.

The loss of oil can also cause the vehicle to stall unexpectedly.

Check this article for a list of most-common reasons the check-engine light turns on.

Probable Causes and Solutions

If you notice the sensors leaking oil, the parts should be replaced as quickly as possible.

If your Nissan Altima stalls intermittently, especially around 100,000-150,000 miles, it’s worth checking the sensors to see if this could be the cause of the problem.

Front Struts Wear Out Sooner than Expected

Eventually, front struts will need to be replaced.

But, if your Altima’s struts are wearing out sooner than expected, it could cause a loud knocking noise that will be impossible to miss, and will be especially loud when driving over bumps.

Probable Causes and Solutions

If you hear a loud knocking sound, especially when driving on bumpy, uneven terrain, you might have a problem with your vehicle’s struts.

Struts can wear out quickly for a variety of reasons including not enough air in your tires.

If you’re experiencing this problem, it’s best to have the vehicle examined by a professional mechanic.

Failure to replace the struts could result in the vehicle being unsafe to drive.

Misfires, Rough Idles, and Check Engine Light

Around 150,000 miles, some Nissan Altima owners may notice the vehicle begins to misfire, idles roughly, and/or is accompanied by a lit check engine light on the dash.

Probable Causes and Solutions

The first thing to check if you have this problem is the intake manifold gasket.

If there is an engine vacuum leak on the intake manifold gasket, it can cause a misfire, cause the vehicle to idle roughly, and might cause the check engine light to come on.

If your vehicle misfires, it’s extremely important not to drive the vehicle until you have it checked out by an automotive technician.

The engine vacuum leak is quick and easy to fix, but if you drive an Altima that is misfiring, it could cause damage to the vehicle’s catalytic converter, which can be very expensive to fix.

Make sure to check our list of good and bad years for Nissan Altima.

Engine Mounts Wear Out and Create Excessive Movement

Altima models created from 1998 to 2017 are prone to right engine mount failure.

If this happens, the engine will be unstable, which could cause it to vibrate when idling, or make loud noises when shifting.

Probable Causes and Solutions

If you notice your Altima vibrating at stops or when shifting gears, you need to take note of the issue and get to the bottom of it as soon as possible.

The issue has been noted with Nissan Altimas with as little as 30,000 miles on them and in those with nearly 200,000 miles on the engine.

The fastest and easiest way to fix this problem is to have the engine mounts replaced as soon as possible.

It’s possible to replace just the engine mounts that have failed, usually the right side engine mounts, but most technicians will opt to replace all engine mounts at the same time.

Replacing all the mounts at the same time will help prevent the other side from wearing out shortly after the first side.

Altimas with 3.5L V6 Engines Can Leak Oil after Oil Changes

Altimas with a 3.5L V6 engine may leak oil after having an oil change. Subtle symptoms of an oil leak include oil in your parking spot or on your driveway after being parked for a short time.

More extensive symptoms of an oil leak include a low oil warning light.

It’s important not to ignore the symptoms of an oil leak because it could cause damage to the engine.

Possible Causes and Solutions

Oil tends to leak in Altimas with a 3.5L V6 engine because the oil filter is attached to the cooler.

Removing and installing the filter can interfere with the o-ring’s ability to seal properly.

If you notice oil leaking from your Nissan Altima, it’s time to remove the oil filter and oil cooler and replace the o-ring.

It’s worth noting that replacing the oil cooler at this time is a good move, but not always required.

When the problem goes unresolved, the oil in the engine could get very low. If oil gets too low, Altima drivers could notice a loud noise from the engine. Engine noise due to low oil could cause the OBD-II code P0011.

Some drivers get a warning code about a possible oil leak immediately after getting their vehicle’s oil changed. Usually, this code is caused by the cap not being sealed correctly.

If you suspect this problem, it’s a good idea to try and unscrew the oil cap and reseal it.

If the oil light goes off after doing this, you may not have to do any repairs, and can just keep an eye on the vehicle instead.

General Pros and Cons of the Nissan Altima

Get to know the best and the worst of the Nissan Altima to help you determine whether it’s the right vehicle for your lifestyle and budget.

Nissan Altima Pros

  • Great fuel economy
  • Turbocharged engine options
  • Nice infotainment system
  • It doesn’t look like a traditional sedan
  • Plenty of room for cargo
  • Easy to drive
  • Comfortable interior
  • Ability to access the vehicle remotely
  • Intelligent key

Nissan Altima Cons

  • Engine stalling when the vehicle is warmed up
  • Thermostat stuck closed
  • Engine overheating
  • Oil leaks
  • Misfires
  • Rough Idling
  • Struts wear out prematurely
  • Worn out engine mounts

What Do the Reviews Say?

“We tested the all-wheel-drive Altima, which the EPA estimates gets 30 mpg combined (26 city/36 highway). It posted an impressive 34 mpg on our 115-mile evaluation route. Odds are you can expect to get pretty good fuel economy from the Altima.”


The Nissan Altima is a great mid-size sedan with excellent fuel economy. Whether you are driving around town, or have a long commute every day, you can expect to get great gas mileage from this sedan.

“The Nissan Altima has earned a Top Safety Pick designation from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Even the base Altima, the S, has automatic emergency braking, and for 2021 it’s been supplemented with pedestrian protection.”


Nissan takes the safety of its drivers and passengers seriously, and continues to improve its safety features year after year.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) consistently picks the Altima in its Top Safety Pick designation.

What’s the Resale Value on the Nissan Altima?

Year Model Mileage Price
2009 Nissan Altima High $5,112
2012 Nissan Altima High $6,997
2015 Nissan Altima Good $9,764
2018 Nissan Altima Great $15,302
2020 Nissan Altima Low $19,106

Final Thoughts

There are many vehicle make and models to think about when shopping in the mid-size sedan market.

When considering vehicles, it would be a mistake to look over the Nissan Altima.

Not only does the vehicle offer great gas mileage, but it also has fantastic safety features and handles well too.

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ⓘ  The information in this article is based on data from National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recall reports, consumer complaints submitted to the NHTSA, reliability ratings from J.D. Power, auto review and rating sites such as Edmunds, specialist forums, etc. We analyzed this data to provide insights into the best and worst years for these vehicle models.