Are Nissan Altimas Reliable?

In the U.S. people are keeping their vehicles longer, despite many new options available in the market. According to the Energy Information Administration, the aging fleet of vehicles on car lots suggests many consumers are delaying purchasing a new vehicle or instead have purchased a used one. And it doesn’t seem to matter whether you’re bringing in less than $25,000 a year or reporting a six-digit annual household income…keeping cars longer is trending. On average Americans keep their cars about 11 years with that trend expected to continue to rise over the next decade. Keeping a car more than 100,000 miles is no longer a big deal.

Why? The trend of keeping cars longer began during the recession of the late-2000s, when many Americans were relooking at their finances and budgeting differently. Whether to purchase a new or used vehicle was part of that evaluation. While the newer cars had the latest and greatest features, many of the older cars still had good life in them so consumers opted to keep their ride or buy used. Also, new cars come with bigger monthly payments and nobody wants that when you can reduce it or remove it all together by continuing to drive that older vehicle a few more years. But, with regular maintenance, TLC and a solid extended warranty, like a mechanical breakdown insurance plan from olive®, driving your ride past the 100,000 mark on the odometer is not a big deal (anymore). Because of this trend, car reliability has become an even bigger factor for consumers.

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How Long Does a Nissan Altima Last?

When looking to buy a car or SUV, regardless if you’re looking at new or pre-owned, many consumers are wondering how long their new investment will last. It’s a good question to ask because it’s just as important as the vehicle’s fuel economy and safety record.

While it all depends on how well a car is maintained and cared for, generally the Nissan brand is known for its reliability and longevity. They can easily take you beyond 100,000 miles with the proper care.

The Nissan Altima has proven that it is a dependable and reliable car. Unfortunately, we do not have a crystal ball, so we can’t say for sure how long a Nissan Altima will last, but there is evidence to support that a well-cared for Altima can keep on driving past 200,000 miles or more than 10 years! And with newer cars in general being made to last longer and with the latest technology, new Altimas (or newer year models) may last even longer.

A quick peek on Autotrader showed that there are many Nissan Altimas for sale that are more than seven years old and surprisingly, many (some newer year models) that are well beyond the 100,000-mile mark. Based purely on anecdotal data, some Altima owners claim their Altimas are still performing well even though they are older. One said his 2012 was still running just fine with 160,000 miles on it. Another said that their 2006 had 230,000 miles and was only replaced because it had been rear-ended, which had nothing to do with the Nissan Altima itself.

When looking at vehicles in general, the average lifespan of a car is about 12 years, or about 180,000 to 200,000 miles. Just a decade ago, the average lifespan was about 8 years. As technology has gotten smarter, so have cars, resulting in cars that last longer.

Cars of today are better designed than they were two decades ago. There are many factors as to why, but to name a few: better parts that are more reliable, automated and high-precision manufacturing, and electrical systems have replaced mechanical systems, which have made engines more efficient and reduced breakdowns. Remember when you were told to change your oil every 3,000 miles? Today, many of the newer vehicles are changing oil every 15,000 miles due to better oil. Changing spark plugs every 3,000 miles is a thing of the past, now it’s every 100,000!

So, while it’s hard to answer how long your Nissan Altima will last, based on the data and evidence, we’d venture to say your Nissan Altima has the potential to last the test of time. And with proper service, you can expect it to keep you driving safely for many years.

Let’s Talk Reliability

Before we get specifically into the reliability of the Nissan Altima, let’s first discuss reliability in general and what it means and why it’s important.

If you’re doing car research, you’ve most likely seen the term “reliability” as it relates to cars and SUVs. In the automotive industry reliability is sometimes noted as dependability. Since buying a new or used vehicle is a big purchase, and consumers are keeping their vehicles longer, it’s not surprising that reliability and dependability are factors that buyers are interested in more and more. According to a J.D. Powers Auto Avoider Survey, nearly 60% of consumers want reliability data, ranking it third behind (and not too behind) exterior and interior styling, which ranked at 62% and 61% respectively in 2017.

So, what is reliability? In general, the term “reliability” in the automotive industry is a method that is used to determine how long a vehicle will last. A reliability rating is a measurement of vehicle dependability based on cost, frequency, and severity of unscheduled repairs and maintenance. The reliability rating allows consumers to research dependability and ownership costs as they relate to unscheduled repairs and maintenance. The rating also takes into account industry averages and will compare reliability factors against other vehicles.

Are Nissans Reliable?

The short answer is yes. You can count on them to be reliable. Since 1933, Nissan has been manufacturing cars and trucks with a reputation known for quality and reliability.

The Nissan brand scores high on reliability when compared to other car makes and models. Nissan is ranked within the top 10 on the RepairPal Reliability scale, achieving a reliability rating of 4 or higher. In general, Nissan brand vehicles average $500 in annual repair costs which is less than other brands. As a comparison, the average cost for repairs and maintenance for all other vehicle models overall is $652.

Nissan Altima Sedan – How Reliable is it?

The Nissan Altima debuted in 1993, and it has shown to be a dependable and reliable car. Nissan Altima owners drive their vehicles for their safety and dependability. They are well made vehicles. When it comes to reliability, the Nissan Altima shows well. It scores a 4 out of 5 on the RepairPal Reliability scale, making it the 11th out of 24 midsize cars.

The average repair cost for a Nissan Altima is less than $500, making it lower than average ownership costs. Plus, major repairs for the Altima are uncommon. On average, the total annual cost for repairs and maintenance on a Nissan Altima is $483, which is less than the average of other cars in the same category, which average $526.

Most Reliable Nissan Altima Years

As with all brands, some years are more reliable than others. According to our research and taking reliability into account, the most reliable Nissan Altima year models seem to point to the 2011 and 2012 models, which are part of the Nissan Altima’s fourth generation. Both the 2011 and 2012 years report an annual maintenance cost of $468 and $483 respectively, which is less than the average of $652 for all vehicle makes and models overall.

If you’re looking to purchase a newer pre-owned Altima, consider any of the sixth-generation pre-owned models, 2017 through 2019. The 2017 and 2018 years report an annual maintenance cost of less than $400. And the 2019 Nissan Altima was rated the third most reliable sedan of 2019 when compared to other sedans in its class. Depending on the mileage, these newer used models may still be under warranty too.

Let’s Not Forget the Nissan Altima Coupe

Nissan introduced its first-ever two-door Altima, featuring a sharp, sporty design. The coupe was introduced in 2008 and was discontinued in 2013, after lackluster sales. Just because the coupe did not result in stellar sales for Nissan does not mean it was not a reliable car. In fact, quite the contrary.

The coupe, just like it’s big sibling, received above average marks for its reliability. J.D. Power compared the 2012 Nissan Altima Coupe 2D to other like models, focusing on overall quality, and rated it “great,” scoring 87 out of 100 points in the Quality & Reliability category. The coupe model received an overall consumer-verified score of 77 out of 100 on the J.D. Power 100-Point Scale, which is based on hundreds of thousands of independent and unbiased opinions of verified car owners regarding the vehicle’s overall quality and performance.

If you’re in the market to purchase a Nissan Altima Coupe, the 2012 model, with standard options and in good condition, will run you about $6,500. Rating results from the J.D. Powers 100-Point Scale for the Nissan Altima Coupe are below.

  • Quality & Reliability – Great, 87/100
  • Driving Experience – Average, 68/100
  • Resale – Average, 71/100

The Nissan Altima Coup was noted for the smoothness of its transmission, interior storage spaces and the overall quietness of the vehicle’s interior. Some problem areas were noted, which include lack of flexibility with seat configurations, vehicle stability in poor conditions, and the styling of gauges of instruments.

Reliable but Some Common Problems to Watch Out For

The Nissan Altima has proven itself as a worthy competitor when it comes to reliability. It consistently ranks as one of the most reliable vehicles on the market, however, there are few problems you should be aware of if you’re looking to purchase a used Nissan Altima.

The most consistent and worst issue a buyer should know about has to do with its continuously variable transmission (CVT). Delayed throttle responses and a feeling of spasmic or stuttering movement was encountered when accelerating. Some models even had full transmission problems. Nissan is aware of the issue and amended its powertrain warranty for model years 2007 to 2010 only to accommodate for the CVT challenges – up to 10 years or 120,000 miles. Nissan continues to be plagued with the CVT issues, forcing it to extend the powertrain warranty for many of its other vehicles from 5 years or 60,000 miles to 10 years or 120,000 miles.

Catalytic converter failures cause the “check engine” light to come on. When this light comes on there is potential for debris from the converter to get into the engine which can lead to damage and result in a steep repair bill. Oddly, Nissan did not call for a recall even though it consistently plagues model years from 1999 to 2015.

A faulty fuel pump has been another consistently reported issue, causing the car either to sometimes not start or stall while the vehicle is driving. Model years affected were 1991, 1993 and models from 2001 to 2015. Nissan did a recall for the fuel pump on the 2019 model.

Another reported issue is caused by a failing camshaft or crankshaft position sensor, which can cause the engine to stall while the car is moving. There was a recall for this issue for year models: 2002, 2005 and 2006.

Rough riding and a stalling engine are other problems that have plagued the Nissan Altima model throughout the years. Sometimes after the engine would start, it would stall out and not restart.

Failed engine seal causing oil leakage is another concern but it seems to be specific to the 3.5 liter V6 engine models. If the oil leakage goes undetected it can lead to a noisy engine due to the low oil pressure.

Keeping Your Vehicle Reliable

As with anything, there are things you can do to extend the lifespan of your Nissan Altima. Here are a few tips for you to consider:

Maintain your vehicle with regular service visits. It’s easy to put it off or just wait until the next one is due, but don’t do it! Get your car in to make sure it is serviced properly and on a regular schedule.

Check and change your oil on a consistent basis. Don’t forget about the filter too.

If that “check engine” light goes one (or any indicator for that matter), get your car in to get it looked at – it may be minor and just needs a simple adjustment. Sometimes, the car will continue to run and it’s easy to forget about it, but keep in mind that something in your vehicle triggered that indicator to flash on.

Clean your engine regularly. Removing dirt and grime from your engine can prolong the life of the engine.

Regardless of how Reliable a Vehicle is…Get Peace of Mind

We’ve determined that Nissans are dependable and reliable. You count on them to be just that. But what happens when they prove otherwise? Just like with any vehicle, no matter how well crafted, items eventually break down. It is not uncommon to bring your Nissan in for repairs. And although it may not be as often as other brands, issues will arise and will have to be fixed eventually. olive® wants you to prepare for the unexpected and not break your wallet in the process. Get peace of mind to back your ride.

For the most part, vehicle warranties expire after the first three years or 36,000 miles, so it’s a good idea to have a Mechanical Breakdown Insurance plan at the ready in case of an unfortunate breakdown. With olive®, you’re covered, and you can get a quote online easily and be protected the very next day.

Our products, customer service and reputation for excellence have earned us an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau, and we have partnered with some of the insurance industry’s largest companies to back us. With olive®, we’ll be your reliable partner, in the event your vehicle isn’t. Here’s are some of the benefits you can look forward to:


  • No waiting period
  • Start coverage up to 140,000 miles
  • No yearly mileage limits
  • Coverage across the U.S.
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