Problems with Nissan Altimas

by Andy Joseph

The Altima replaced the Stanza as the car company's midsize car, making its debut in 1992 for the 1993 model year. Since then, it has had three subsequent generations (1998 to 2001, 2002 to 2006 and 2007 to present), with a coupe version introduced in 2008. It is currently Nissan's best-selling vehicle.

First Generation Altimas

With the first generation (1993 to 1997), the car's major problems lay with the engine and its heating/air conditioning system. Failure of the crank angle sensor and/or the ignition power transistor prevents the vehicle from starting, and refrigerant leaks and expansion valve debris results in poor air conditioning performance. Replacement of the crank sensor and ignition power transistor can fix the starting problem, while replacing the O-ring in the A/C and clearing the debris can improve the car's air conditioning performance.

Second Generation Altimas

Altima problems are reduced with its second generation (1998 to 2001). Rough idling and stalling in some cars could be due to clogged spark plug vent holes or failure of the intake manifold gasket. In some cases, the "Check Engine" light will illuminate. Replacing the parts would resolve the issue.

Third Generation Altimas

The 2002 entry is the most problem-prone of the Nissan Altima's third generation (2002 to 2006), with electrical issues (the exhaust manifold heat shield cutting the oxygen sensor wires), a howling clutch disc (solved with replacement in a countermeasure one with different friction) and squeaking/chirping wheel covers (felt tape stops the noise). However, it is the failure of the crankshaft position and camshaft position sensors that is the most prevalent problem among third-generation Altimas; it causes the engine to stall. In some cases, the vehicle might be covered by a factory recall.

Fourth Generation Altimas

The fourth generation of Altimas, making their debut with the 2007 model year, are afflicted with the least problems since they are comparatively new. However, some vehicles might have faulty window switch assemblies or inaccurate speedometers due to an electrical ground problem from the right front fender. Another problem, albeit relatively minor, is the malfunction of the auto-up window feature, which can be fixed by completely closing the window and holding the button for about four seconds.

Most Reliable Nissan Altimas

If you want an Altima of minimal problems, you will have better luck getting a brand new one or an Altima that is no older than three years. However, regardless of what model year you wish to purchase, check the car history by pulling up a CARFAX report, or obtaining one from the dealership if it has a copy.

About the Author

Based in the D.C. area, Andy Joseph works full-time as a data analyst and technical writer. He has been writing articles about technology, health, politics, music, culture and automobiles since 2007. His work has appeared in The Express, Congressional Report and Road & Track. He has a master's degree in journalism and technology management.

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