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Nissan Altima Maintenance and Repair

gasman1gasman1 Posts: 321
I've been buying new cars for more than 25-years. I always upgrade the tires since OEM tires are usually cheap. I normally upgrade to Michelin and get the extended road care with tire rotation and balance included. It's cheap insurance for less than $10 per tire and it makes the tires perform better and last much longer.
This is the first car that has great tires on it. Mine came with Continental ContiTouring Contacts. However, I did have a balance problem and the dealership had to send them to a very good local tire shop since they have tape wheel weights rather than the clip on type. Very nice and I'm completely happy that they would send the problem to experts rather than do it themselves.
If you notice a vibration problem at certain speeds (say 54-57mph) and it's not there at lower speeds or at higher speeds, you have a balance problem. Take it to your dealership and have the tires balanced.


  • hcm32hcm32 Posts: 2
    I own a 1996 Altima with appox. 120k miles. I purchased the car in 1997 as a commuter vehicle. The majority of the miles are highway miles at a near constant speed. I have changed the oil on a regular basis and received excellent service from the vehicle. Around June 1, I took the car to a local repair shop due to noise (sounded like a misaligned pulley) in the engine area. The local shop removed the valve cover and inspected the timing chain and performed a "checkout" of the car. They did not identify a cause or problem(appox cost 400.00). The noise continues to this day. Shortly thereafter(5-7k miles) the car developed a small misfire while idling. I could not detect a difference in the performance or gas mileage. Since the valve cover gasket had developed a small leak(the local dealer re used the gasket) I replaced the valve cover gasket and changed the spark plugs. The misfire at idle continued. I performed a visual inspection of hoses and wires and could not locate any loose connections or vacuum leaks. Shortly after(1 week) replacing the gasket and spark plugs the check engine light came on. I took the car to the local Nissan dealer and asked that he identify any computer codes and identify the problem. The dealer inspected the car and said the problem was due to a leaking intake gasket and he would "turn off" the check engine light. He did not provide a list of codes but stated I should have the gasket replaced in the near future since I could burn the valves on the number four cylinder due to a lean condition. Is this a reasonable cause for the slight misfire at idle? I am considering replacing the spark plug wires and oxygen sensor before spending the money at the dealer(250-300.00). Is it possible I could have a vacuum hose leak that is out of sight?
  • bckbck Posts: 2
    Dear hcm32,
    Thanks for writing in details about your experiences. I have the same noise coming out of the engine and one mechanic had told me that it might be due to a misaligned pulley. Did you figure out the actual source of the problem? I guess it a standard problem with all Altimas. Mine is 1998 GXE model. The noise is really bothering me now and I'm not sure if its safe to drive this car. I don't see any performance problems with the car due to this.
    Any more inputs on this subject will be highly appreciated.
  • I have not had the problems that both of you have had. I have 122,000 miles on my car. Up until 2 months ago most of my car was for commuting highway miles. Now I drive in town commuting from school to school. The major repairs I have had on my car are a new alternator at 110,000 miles, and an air valve gas valve situation where the car would act like it would die if I came to a stop. It took 1,000 to replace it and the situation was solved. I hope to keep this car until the wheels fall off of it. I religiously follow the maintenance manual. Oh, I had the brakes replaced at 80,000 miles. Is it reasonable to expect that I will have this car until around 200,000 miles without too much difficulty? I am a doc student and this is important to me. By the way, my car is a 1995 GXE.
  • bckbck Posts: 2
    My original tires wore out after 50K. Actually, only two tires wore out on the outer edges and the other two were good enough to go for another 30k or so. My new tires are just 7k old and I've noticed that the outer edge of the rear tires are wearing out much faster. At this rate, the tires will last another 5k only. I've checked the alignment few times and they seems to be fine. What else can be the problem? Anyone experiencing the same problem?
  • Hi,

    Nice to meet you. Recently, I bought '94 altima SE 85k.
    I'm not so good at my car. Actually, I don't have enough knowledge and I'm first here in U.S. So, please be patient and answer my questions. Help me!!!

    The problem I only have is

    1. I hear the squeaking sound when I push the
    clutch and checked the "clutch" fluid.
    There was no "clutch" fluid in fluid
    reservoir. Is this squeaking sound
    from "empty clutch fluid"?

    2. Whenever I operate the brake, I can hear the
    squeazing sound from the rear tire part.
    Is there any method to check the "brake pad"
    or "lining"? Should I exchange something(brake
    pad or lining part.)

    I also would like to know

    1.What kind of clutch fluid do you recommend?
    (brand and overall price as best)
    Is it enough that I fill up clutch fluid for
    2.Can the brake fluid be used for clutch fluid?
    3.How can I know the brake squeazing sound is
    from brake pad or lining.
    4.Which online store do you recommend for buying
    some parts and supplies(clutch fluid, etc)?

    Lots of questions. I hope you answer them.
    Thank you.
  • meca2meca2 Posts: 284
    I would suggest that you purchase a repair manual for this car at any bookstore
    or auto parts store. The brake fluid and the clutch fluid is the same. DOT 3 or 4.
    The brake pads are on the front wheels and on an SE the rear might have drum brakes.
    These have brake shoes. The clutch might have a leaky slave cylinder, the part that
    actuates the clutch. I would go to the dealer and get the shoes and pads. I have for years
    and they seem to work the best. The fluid you can purchase at any auto parts store
    ask any person that works there for a good quality fluid. Please keep end mind that
    good brakes save lives. Good luck.
  • meca2meca2 Posts: 284
    hcm32, I have a 95 Altima. and have done all the service since new which has been
    very little than change the engine oil. You can check the codes your self if you want.
    The computer that shows the codes is behind a small plastic cover by the drivers
    right foot. You turn the screw in the direction it says and with the engine running
    or what is says to do and the codes are on 2 LED lights. One red and one green.
    The spark plug wires might help but if the gasket is leaking you will burn a valve
    and it might take out both O2 sencers. There is a O2 sencer aft the cat-converter.
    Some people complaned about noise maybe pullies?? I have found that the belts
    them-selfves are very noisy. The first time I took it in for warrenty they changed both
    alt. belt and a/c belt and I change both at 60K. They still make a small noise on start-up
    Cheers.. Steve
  • jv9jv9 Posts: 1
    I have a 95 Altima GXE. Bought it used at 26K miles. At 30K, the air bag controller unit went. Luckily, it was still under warranty. Now, at 65K, the unit went again. It's a $650 part. This unit should last the life of the car, right? I think it's ridiculous that I should need 3 air bag controller units within 65,000 miles! The dealer will knock 10% off the price, but will not help us deal with Nissan. How do I contact Nissan and what kind of luck can I expect? Any tips?
  • jonib2jonib2 Posts: 1
    It's been helpful to read all of your posts. I have a '94 Altima GXE w/ 102,000 miles that I bought used. With the exception of leaking oil in the gasket area, I've had good no costly problems other than routine maintenance replacements. However, I'm now looking at several costly repairs. The lip on the radiator went and luckily there was just enough edge to re-attach the hose for a short-term fix, but will need to replace. My mechanic also suspects the head gasket needs replacing. I just replaced the serpentine belt and front brakes due to wear and will need to replace rear brakes by inspection. As one of you indicated, I seem to be going through tires like water; although I sit in bumper-to-bumper traffic with the same edge wear in both commuting directions. Also, the ride is getting rougher and particularly in this cold weather, I'm questioning the stamina of the shocks. At this point am wondering if I should hang on to it, or trade it in for a newer model? I'd like to hear from someone as to longevity of the body (rust), clutch, and engine. It seems I will need to replace everything else.
  • I am looking to replace original tires with something with better snow traction. I do not want tospend a lot of money and do not drive neet H rated tires. This is my mom's car and she does not drive fast, but she needs to get to and from work and in MN meens good snow traction.

    I would appresiate any input. Thanks,
  • Just wanted to chime in with my Altima experience.

    I have a 98 SE that I bought new in Nov 97. Now have 78,000 miles on it, about 50/50 highway and city miles. Never had a problem with this car to this point. Regular oil changes and that's about it. Changed tires once, just changed the front brakes, belts and head gasket, and spark plugs. This has been a great car and averages 24 MPG.
    Knock on wood!
  • Hi,

    I have a 98 Nissan Altima SE with original Firestone tires. I bought it about 2.5 years ago and it has 30,000 mile on it now.

    Recently I noticed all four tires has quite some wearing, and stopping distance is getting longer. Today I actually had a small accident in which I rear ended a car in front of me resulting in a small dent on that cars rear bumper (luckily, everyone was fine and the small dent was the only damage). There was small rain and it took me much longer than I expected to stop to avoid the accident.

    I followed all the recommended service every 3750 miles and rotate the tires following the 7500 miles recommendation. The tires seem to be wearing evenly (does not seems to be caused by mis-alignment).

    Anybody has any advice on usually how long original tires can last? (under normal driving conditions. I am in SF bay area, the traffic is very bad during weekdays, and a lot stop-and-go, but I mostly only dirve the car during weekend with little traffic). Thanks.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 62,410
    It really depends on the quality of the tire they put on there in the first place....and also the type of car and its weight. Tough question to answer.

    Best I could say that you get what you pay for, and that the tires on a Ford Escort are not, of course, going to match those on a BMW for quality; also front drive cars will probably eat tires more quickly, especially on fairly powerful cars (lots of weight and stress on the "driving" tire up front).

    I wouldn't complain if I got 30K on a set of tires...I mean, you can stretch it, but really, the last 1/4 "legal" life of a tire might not be the best for safety....

    Some high performance cars get as little as 8,000 miles on a set of very expensive tires, so be grateful! My Saab turbo rarely went more than 8,000 miles on the front tires of medium quality.

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  • I purchased a 2000 Altima in September 2000.
    While listening to the Cd player I noticed the sound fading in/out when I listened to a CD with the volume 3 notches pass the halfway mark.

    I took it back to Nissan and they replaced the radio finally. The same problem exist.

    They say the radio is designed to turn the volume down when it's played at a certain volume for a period of time to avoid blowing the speakers.
    I can appreciate that but that's not what my radio is doing. They kept my car for 5 days and that's what they came up with . I not happy. I trying to find out if anyone else has ever had a problem like this. I would like to get Nissan to correct this problem before to much time passes.
  • I have a 1996 Nissan Altima with about 47,000 miles. I'm needing to do some normal maintenance--new tires and battery. Does anyone have any good suggestions on brands and models of tires that have worked for you? I am wanting a tire that performs well in snow and rain and wears well. Also does anyone know if a Penske battery is good?
  • just prchase a 01 gxe and after approx 80 miles i began hearing a cruchlike noise coming fm the rear drivers side when starting or startng sharply. ( the noise sounds exactly like the noise you hear when you open the door locks w/ the auto door lock). the noise is starting to annoy me and i just want it corrected. the service dept heard the noise and did not know what it was. i have a second service appt and the car doesnt even have 140 miles on it yet. aside fm that i love everything else about the car. i just want to know if you heard of anyone else having this problem and how it was corrected. i was told that because the car was brand new t would work out little creaks byitself is this true . please help
  • About 1 year ago, I disabled the passenger side air bag on my 95 Altima by disconnecting the connection accessed thru the top of the glove box. This caused the 'air bag' light on the dash to flash, as I expected. Now, I am preparing to sell the car. I have reconnected the connection, but the light on the dash continues to flash. I have followed the procedure to clear the codes on the ECM, this made no difference. I'm assuming the code needs to be cleared on the Air Bag control module. Any ideas???? Thanks
  • nerkonerko Posts: 1
  • I have been told my 96 Altima with 90k miles has a leak around the oil pump. The replacement parts are about $9. Because of the location of the pump the labor will be about $900. I was told by the service department at my Nissan dealer that this repair is common on the Altima. Anyone have any feedback on this? Thanks.
  • Don't laugh, this is the procedure. With drivers door open, locate the position of the dome light switch on the pillar at the drivers side. Remember where it is by feel.

    With key off Sit in drivers seat. Open door. Turn key to ON position (not start). Reach down with index finger of left hand to door light switch. Depress and release door light switch 5 times within 7 seconds. Close door turn ignition to off. Wait about 1 minute. Turn ignition key to start and start as normal. If there is NO problem with air bag circuits light should come on steady for about 7 seconds and then go out. Problem is either with air bag sensors or wiring 95% of time. Rarely module.

    This procedure may not work first time. Cleared mine (97 ALTIMA) on second try) TWICE in 45K miles. Both times as below.

    The problem usually occurs if battery voltage goes very low but not disconnected. (Light on overnight etc.) Or a hard crank, no start and then re crank right away.

    You can prevent it from happening again by turning key to on position when starting, wait until electric fuel pump stops pumping and then start car. By this time the Air Bag computer has completed it's check and light is out.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 62,410
    Now how exactly does the dealer know the oil pump has a "leak"? I really want to hear this! Maybe they mean front crankcase seal or ?????

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  • andy2470andy2470 Posts: 9
    I have a 96 Altima GXE with 138,000 miles which is mostly highway miles. I wish I could say that I have not had many problems but right now I am completely disgusted with this car. As I type this reply the car is DEAD. The distributor has gone bad and I don't know exactly the cost for repair but I have heard it is $700. The distributor on this car has a high failure rate. I have also had numerous problems with the check engine light. It goes off and on every 1000 miles or so. The first time I had this problem it was an oxygen sensor. The second time was a knock sensor(EXPENSIVE). Now it is on for a catalyst problem. I have a power steering leak and the valve cover gasket is leaking. I have had two front brake replacements in three years and now it needs a third. I have replaced the alternator once and the battery twice in three years. I have had to replace the NV axles already ($300). I have also replaced FOUR wheel covers because Nissan wheels covers are FLIMSY and either break easily or fall off the car and are lost. I can't wait until I can bid this car FAREWELL! I have not abused this car so that is not the cause of the numerous problems I am having.
  • Does anyone know what the most likely cause would be for the Check Engine light to illuminate on a 95 Altima GXE?
  • shmangshmang Posts: 297
    Read the previous post... It could either be the O2 sensor or the knock sensor if you engine runs OK(well at least it sounds normal.) otherwise, that is a bad thing....
  • nivbonivbo Posts: 1
    Can you give me some advice on what problems I may encounter with this vehicle in the next 20-30,000 miles? I'm looking for a reliable car to own about a year. This one's being sold by owner for $7000. It's clean with 80,000 miles on it, this second owner picked up from dealer who got it back at the end of a lease. I've read the other posts about problems with the oil pumps, distributor, airbag controller light and head gasket...makes me wonder what I'm in for! We had great luck with a '82 Stanza-had it 9 years, and a 93 maxima-had it 7 years, so we thought we'd check out the Altima.
  • shmangshmang Posts: 297
    Well, from my experience, Altima is a reliable car (especially a fairly low mileage one, they might have some problem if it is a high mileage-which is true for any cars.)

    If I were you, I would try to find a 95 with lower miles (i.e. around 60k miles) that will cost you almost the same (about 7-8k depends on the condition of the car.)
  • andy2470andy2470 Posts: 9
    As I mentioned in a previous post my Altima is currently dead due to a failed distributor. This I have found out is a common Altima problem. If yours fails here is what I suggest you do. Do NOT go to the Nissan dealer for this part. They will happily sell it to your for $450. If you have friends who are mechanically inclined then purchase the Hayes repair manual which contains step by step instructions for distributor replacement. In order to get the part without breaking the bank you will need to go to a parts store such as AutoZone, Napa or Pep Boys but in this case you may have to wait a few days for the distributor to be shipped in. One parts store I called could not get the distributor I needed which by the way was $134 because this is a nationwide problem with this car and the part has been on backorder for thirteen weeks. I was able to find it at another store for $154 and it will be here in three days. If your Altima stalls in traffic and acts as if it is running out of gas when it is not then you are in trouble. Sometimes this will be mistaken for a bad fuel pump. The car may straighten itself out for a few days but don't be fooled like I was. IT WILL FAIL and when it does the car is DEAD until the distributor is replaced.
  • hoser7hoser7 Posts: 3
    Read your post on bad Altima distributors... what year is your Altima? Any idea the years this may affect?
  • bli1bli1 Posts: 1
    My 94 Altima (78K) has same problem. It all started 2 weeks ago. It was finally dead last week. I have it towed to PepBoy's, they said a seal in the distributor cracked, so the oil leaked into the distributor and caused problem. They checked almost every store around, and nobody has it on stock. The Nissan does have plenty, but they charge $460 for the distributor that you should be able to get for $142. I checked around myself, one guy told me he had a lady looking for it last week too. And she need 50 of them. Anyway, my car is running again, since mechanics cleaned the oil in the distributor. But just like you said, it can strike again any time. And it seems there is no place in this world that I can find that damn distributor tomorrow. I am so frastrated that I was going to buy a new car tomorrow. Anyway, I have a lot of problem with this car too. Especially in the past three months. I have to use rental car to work twice in the past three months. Just like you, I have front brake and wheel cover problem too.I also have to change battery twice in three years. I guess none of us will buy an Altima again...
  • I have an oil leak problem which requires me to pour in a bottle of motor oil a month. Brought it to two dealerships and both gave estimate of $800 -$900. Mostly it's labor because they say it's a leak in the timing cover and they have to take the engine apart. I was told Nissan experimented with a new sealant in models made 94-96(?) and it fails on a lot of Altimas. I was wondering if this is the cause of the distributor failures andy2470 and bli1 mentioned?

    I also replaced wheel cover twice. Bad!
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