These Are The Worst Nissan Altima Years to Avoid for Used Models

Patrick Oziegbe
Updated On:

Are you in the market for a used car that combines reliability and value? Look no further than the Nissan Altima. But beware, not all model years are created equal.

Some have been plagued with issues that could leave you stranded on the side of the road. Don’t let that happen to you.

Stay clear of the notorious 2002, 2003, 2009, and 2013-2015 model years, which have been known to suffer from engine and powertrain failures, faulty electrical systems, and excessive oil consumption.

Instead, opt for the tried-and-true Altima 1993, 1996, and 2019-and-beyond models that have proven to be some of the best Altima years.

Don’t take a chance on a lemon – follow our carefully laid down facts and pre-purchase inspections to ensure you’re getting the best Altima for your needs. Happy hunting!

Worst Nissan Altima Years

Best and Worst Model Years

When it comes to the Nissan Altima, some model years stand out as the best or the worst due to factors such as reliability, reported issues, and overall satisfaction.

This section will guide you through the top picks and years to avoid for the Altima.

The Nissan Altima best years models to consider are 1993, 1996, 2005, 2011, and 2020-2023. These years are known for their excellent dependability and minimal reported issues.

Opting for one of these models can provide you with a reliable and enjoyable driving experience.

On the flip side, there are some Nissan Altima years that you should be cautious about. According to various sources, the worst model years to avoid include 2002, 2003, 2009, 2013, 2016, and 2019.

The reasons for their notoriety range from engine and powertrain issues to faulty electricals.

Specifically, the 2013 Nissan Altima stands out as the year to avoid the most, with over 3,000 complaints and being labeled as “avoid like the plague”.

This model year is fraught with engine, electrical, and transmission problems, among others.

Here’s a brief summary of the best and worst years for Nissan Altima:

Best years:

  • 1993
  • 1996
  • 2005
  • 2011
  • 2020-2023

Worst years:

  • 2002
  • 2003
  • 2009
  • 2013
  • 2016
  • 2019

By keeping these model years in mind, you can make a more informed decision when it comes to purchasing a used Nissan Altima.

Worst Years to Avoid

1993 Nissan Altima

Although the 1993 Nissan Altima was the first generation of this popular model, it experienced its fair share of issues.

As an early adopter, you may encounter problems such as engine stalling and transmission slipping. However, considering the age of this model, it’s not surprising that it may have some drawbacks.

1996 Nissan Altima

The 1996 Nissan Altima faced several issues, including problems with the vehicle’s air conditioning and leaking engine oil.

Additionally, there were some engine performance concerns during this model year. It may be wise to avoid purchasing a 1996 Nissan Altima due to these issues.

2002 Nissan Altima

The 2002 Nissan Altima is another year you should avoid. This model faced multiple problems, such as engine failure, excessive oil consumption, and transmission issues.

Steering problems were also reported by owners, making the 2002 model less reliable than others.

2003 Nissan Altima

Similar to the 2002 model, the 2003 Nissan Altima also experienced major engine issues, including excessive oil consumption and engine failure.

Additionally, owners reported problems with the car’s body and paint, causing the 2003 model to be one of the Nissan Altima years to avoid.

2005 Nissan Altima

The 2005 Nissan Altima faced a wide range of problems, such as premature transmission failure and engine stalling. This model also had issues with the car’s body and paint, which negatively impacted its overall reliability.

2009 Nissan Altima

The 2009 Nissan Altima is another year that should be avoided due to various issues. Troubles with the CVT transmission, electronic systems, and engine performance made this model less dependable than others in the lineup.

2011 Nissan Altima

While the issues with the 2011 Nissan Altima were not as severe as other years, it still had some problems.

These include a malfunctioning air conditioner and excessive oil consumption. Nevertheless, it’s essential to stay informed about potential issues with the 2011 model.

2013 Nissan Altima

The 2013 Nissan Altima is considered one of the worst years to avoid, with Car Complaints awarding it an “Avoid Like the Plague” badge.

With over 3,000 reported complaints, this model suffered from a wide range of issues, including CVT transmission failures, brake problems, and engine malfunctions.

2016 Nissan Altima

The 2016 Nissan Altima also faced multiple concerns, such as engine and powertrain failures, electrical troubles, and transmission problems. While not as problematic as the 2013 model, the 2016 Nissan Altima is still one to avoid.

2019 Nissan Altima

Lastly, the 2019 Nissan Altima experienced some issues worth noting. While perhaps not as troublesome as earlier models on this list, there were reported engine, powertrain, and electrical problems that should give potential buyers pause.

Common Problems and Complaints

These issues have led to a consensus on which years to avoid when purchasing a used Altima.

Transmission Issues

One of the most prevalent problems with some Nissan Altima model years, particularly 2013, is transmission issues.

Many owners have reported having to replace their vehicle’s transmission after only 55,000 miles, sometimes at an average cost of $3,120.

This can be quite costly for you – especially if you’re purchasing a used car in hopes of saving money.

Engine Problems

Nissan Altima owners have also reported various engine problems in certain model years. For example, the 2002 and 2005 models have faced a number of engine complaints.

Issues like head gasket failures and engine stalling have caused inconveniences and costly repairs for Altima owners.

Excessive Oil Consumption

Some Nissan Altima models have been reported to experience excessive oil consumption, leading to engine damage if not addressed promptly.

This issue is particularly common in the 2002 model year, resulting in some owners having to frequently top off their engine oil to avoid severe consequences.

Catalytic Converter Failure

Catalytic converter failure is another common issue with the Nissan Altima, especially among the 2002, 2005, and 2013 model years.

A failed catalytic converter can lead to decreased fuel efficiency, poor engine performance, and in some cases, damage to your engine.

Replacing a catalytic converter can be expensive, so keep this in mind when considering certain Altima model years.

Electrical Problems

Electrical problems are yet another common complaint from Nissan Altima owners.

In particular, the 2013 and 2014 models have faced issues with faulty components, leading to difficulties with features like the vehicle’s infotainment system and dashboard warning lights.

Ensuring these electrical issues are addressed and resolved before purchasing a used Altima could save you time, money, and frustration down the line.

Recalls and Safety Concerns

Let’s take a look at some of the most notable issues to help you make an informed decision.

In 2015, the Nissan Altima faced 10 recalls and over 600 complaints. One significant problem was related to the hood and/or rear doors opening unintentionally while driving.

This year also had other safety concerns such as fuel leaks and fire hazards. Similar issues were reported in the 2002, 2009, and 2014 models as well.

The 2013 Nissan Altima has been cited as one of the worst years for recalls and safety concerns, with 12 recalls, five investigations, and over 2,000 registered complaints.

A staggering 470 of these complaints were related to airbag issues. To avoid potential problems, it’s best to steer clear from Altima models produced between 2013 and 2016.

Here are some specific recalls and safety concerns associated with the Nissan Altima:

  • Fuel Leaks: Some models from 2002, 2009, and 2014 experienced issues with fuel leaks, which posed a fire risk.
  • Rearview Camera: In certain model years, the rearview camera might malfunction or display a blank screen.
  • Safety Equipment: Some cars faced issues with safety equipment such as airbags and seat belts, which could put you and your passengers at risk.

To ensure you’re getting a reliable and safe vehicle, always check the NHTSA recall database by entering the vehicle identification number (VIN).

This will help you determine if there are any open recalls or safety issues related to the specific Nissan Altima you’re interested in purchasing.

Reliability and Depreciation

Reliability ratings can give you an idea of which years to avoid and which ones are worth considering.

Here, we’ll take a look at some of the factors affecting Nissan Altima’s reliability and depreciation, with a focus on the model years to avoid based on various sources.

First, let’s address reliability ratings. According to Consumer Reports, the 2020 Nissan Altima received a 5 out of 5 reliability rating, placing it ahead of competitors like the BMW 5 Series, Honda Accord, and Toyota Camry. Learn more about most reliable and best 5 Series models to buy.

We also suggest you avoid the 2002, 2003, 2009, and 2013-2015 models due to issues ranging from engine and powertrain failures to faulty electricals and class-action lawsuits.

Reliability ratings from sources like J.D. Power, Kelley Blue Book, and Edmunds can provide additional insights into which years to avoid.

In same vein, our researchers found that the best Nissan Altima model years are 1993, 1996, and from 2019 onwards, while the worst model years are 2002, 2005, 2009, and 2013.

They combined information from various sources, including ratings from J.D. Power and Kelley Blue Book, to make these determinations.

Key reliability concerns for the Nissan Altima include CVT failures, which can occur around 50,000 to 100,000 miles and cost roughly $3,000 to fix.

The 2013 is the worst year for the Altima in terms of reliability and annual ownership cost.

When assessing depreciation, keep in mind that the lower reliability of certain model years can lead to higher depreciation rates.

Websites like can be useful for finding vehicle-specific issues and understanding how they might affect resale value.

By considering the information from J.D. Power, Edmunds, Kelley Blue Book, and other sources, you can make a more informed decision when choosing a used Nissan Altima.

Remember, it’s crucial to do thorough research on the Nissan Altima’s reliability and depreciation for different model years to avoid potential problems down the road.

Comparing Altima to Competitors

Honda Accord

When comparing the Nissan Altima to its competitor, the Honda Accord, you’ll notice both vehicles are midsize sedans that offer comparable performance and fuel economy.

The Altima’s worst years had issues with the CVT transmissions, specifically in the 2009, 2013, and 2016 model years. On the other hand, the Accord has had fewer transmission issues overall.

In terms of fuel economy, they are quite similar, although the Accord does offer slightly better performance with its turbocharged engines.

When it comes to safety and reliability, the Accord generally scores higher in these areas.

Hyundai Sonata

The Nissan Altima and Hyundai Sonata are also similar in terms of their classifications as midsize sedans. They both share a couple of key problems, such as engine issues and transmission failures.

The Sonata had issues with engine failures in the 2011-2014 models, while the Altima experienced similar troubles during its worst years.

Fuel economy is comparable between the two vehicles, but the Sonata offers slightly better performance figures, which may be a deciding factor for some buyers.

Toyota Camry

Comparing the Nissan Altima and Toyota Camry, both are midsize sedans with consistent fuel economy, though the Camry typically scores higher in reliability and long-term value.

The Camry has had fewer transmission issues overall, making it a more reliable choice in this respect. The performance characteristics are quite similar, with both vehicles offering fuel-efficient engines.

However, the Camry comes with a hybrid option, giving it an edge in terms of environmental friendliness and fuel savings.

Kia K5

Lastly, the Nissan Altima and the Kia K5 share some similarities as midsize sedans. Although the K5 is a newer model, it competes well in terms of performance and fuel economy.

There are K5’s reports of engine issues and transmission troubles, but they are not as prevalent as in the Altima’s worst years.

However, due to the K5’s more recent introduction to the market, its long-term reliability is still being tested.


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