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Nissan Altima Maintenance and Repair



  • vu2000vu2000 Posts: 58
    I have a 98 Altima GXE automatic with 83K miles. The service engine soon light just started coming on 3 weeks ago. This car was just inspected and passed emission test with flying colors. The guy at the DMV said his computer could not make heads or tail of the car's computer error code. This service engine soon light would go off after I filled up with gas(the car, not me) and reappear after the gas rank is down to 70% full. I had changed the fuel filter and new belts 11 months ago, also new platinum tipped spark plugs 2 years ago. Other than this annoying light, the car is running perfectly fine. Does anyone have any suggestion to what is going on with the car. Thanks.
  • alcanalcan Posts: 2,550
    Post the trouble code. Probably an evaporative emission control code.
  • vixpixvixpix Posts: 1
    I have a 1998 Nissan Altima Sedan GSE with 76,000 miles on it. Recently, I have had some problems filling up my gas tank. I fill it up for like 4/5 bucks and it stops, sometimes some gas even comes out from the intake, it's scary. I've had the purge valve, filler tubes, and gas tank replaced, costing nearly $1,000 and the problem came back. What can I do? I'd hate to take it back to the mechanic and spend more money.
  • scottdudescottdude Posts: 177
    I dropped by and read about some 02 & 03 owners who have had some major Altima problems, like the engine stalling while driving. There was also a recall for something that could cause a fire!

    This concerns me so I was just wondering if the Alt owners here at Edmunds think these are just a few isolated cases, or if Nissan uses inferior parts and manufacturing methods? Do you think the last group of 03's and the 04's will be better choices?
  • whampa65whampa65 Posts: 36
    I've had my '03 Altima for almost a year now and I can give you an update on it. The only problem I've experienced with my car is a slight vibration in the steering wheel. Overall, this car has been trouble free. The power this car has for a 4 cylinder is amazing and I'm getting 27 mpg in mixed driving. This is just my two cents. I know a friend of mine at work who has an '02 Altima and he hasn't experienced any problems with his car either.
  • ultimaultima Posts: 96
    I'm on almost daily... out of over 128,000 posts, I'm sure you're going to find individuals with problems -- as I'm sure you'll find folks who've had problems with the Camry, Accord, Mazda 6, etc. Most folks on -- myself included -- absolutely LOVE our cars.

    Example: If you check out you'll find recalls on both the 2003 Accord and Altima, but this does not mean either car is bad overall.

    I've had my Altima since 2002 and not had even one problem and I'm sure there are plenty of Accord owners who've also not had any problems.

    Once again... Go test-drive, negotiate, etc. an Altima, Accord, Camry, Mazda 6, Passat, etc. That will better help you make your decision.

  • aldan93aldan93 Posts: 202
    Yes it could be easy, the only problem is the underside clamp/hose the Hose seems to glue itself to the filter!!! you will have to pull very hard!!! spray some pentrating oil on it!

    Also anyone no where I could find a good deal on a AC compressor for 97 altima? used is ok.
  • ultimaultima Posts: 96
    Does Florida have a "Lemon Law" ???

    In California, if you have to take it back for the same reason 3 times (I think), I believe they have to swap the car.

    Check into it and post the outcome...
  • gsemikegsemike Long Island, NYPosts: 1,974
    I've only had mine for 3 1/2 months, so I can't speak authoritatively, but so far so good after 2750 miles.

    Starts and run beautifully. Plenty of get up and go. Even with the four, it's a great highway car. You get it up to 90 and it just wants to keep running.

    I haven't had any mechanical problems and I haven't experienced the vibration problem that whampa has.

    I haven't realized the gas mileage some others have ubt unfortunatley I only average aobut 15 mph driving mostly in Queens, NY. Under these conditions, I only get about 15 mpg. When I've gotten out of the city, the mileage climbs toward the expected numbers (20/29 I believe). Besides that, I have one interior panel that shows some flex. I'll have them look at it when I bring it in for the 1st oil change.
  • ultimaultima Posts: 96
    If you have a "Lemon Law", then they don't have a choice -- i.e., it's the law... No?

    FYI... I've had my Altima since March 2002 -- not one problem... zero, zilch, nada!!!

  • azggjonesazggjones Posts: 1
    Was cleaning my 03 Altima yesterday and noticed for the first time that the plastic panel on the B-Pillar is scuffed by the seat belt hitting it repeated times. Has anyone experienced this and have you been able to fix it? First car that I have owned and had this happen.

    Purchased the car in Feb 03 and have had 10,000 trouble free miles. Besides the sub par plastic, I love this car.
  • according2meaccording2me Posts: 236
    My sons GXE, w/184K miles, recently had a failure and instead of repairing such a high mileage unit we opted to have a low mileage(43K) unit from a recycle yard installed. $350 for the tranny and $250 for the tech to install it. He's back on the road again and so far all is well. Looks like he might reach 200K and beyond now.
  • zueslewiszueslewis Posts: 2,353
    "If you have a "Lemon Law", then they don't have a choice -- i.e., it's the law... No?"

    I wish it was that easy - it's not. The manufacturer will readily violate the law (they do it every day) and hold off dealing with you until they're sued, in all but the worst cases.
  • buggywhipbuggywhip Posts: 188
    Generally, a lemon law only applies if you bring the car in multiple times for the same defect. However, the defect must be such that it INCAPACITATES the car and makes it undriveable. (ie, massive electrical failure, etc.). A faulty a/c does not qualify.
  • zueslewiszueslewis Posts: 2,353
    but your facts aren't altogether correct.

    You can have failures in many areas, although not repeated in one area, and still have a lemon law or breach of warranty case.

    There's no stipulation that a problem make the car undrivable at all. It merely requires a substantial impairment of use, safety or value (one, not all). Bad paint on a new car is a substantial impairment of value, although you'd only need one service visit to confirm the problem. That type of situation easily qualifies for a lemon law repurchase - I see it every day.

    A faulty a/c system, especially in a hot climate like Florida (or South Texas, where I'm from) is definitely a substantial issue that affects use (who could drive a car with no air, especially a new car you bought WITH air, in 100 degree heat - especially older folks, people with health issues, etc?). The value is impaired because of the cost to repair, plus the vehicle now has a history of a/c failures - it would be passed over at auction or by a disclosed consumer, in favor of cars without a history of a/c problems.

    Safety is a critcal factor with a/c systems in hot climates, for the same reasons as listed above.
  • sidawonysidawony Posts: 1
    using up a quart between oil changes is normal as per the dealer. I had the same problem and it was explained to me as follows. it is normal for the engine to loose a1/2 to a quart of oil between oil changes. if you need to check the oil, park on level ground and turn off engine and wait a good 20 min. Due to the engine design it takes a while for the oil to drip back into the pan.
  • Has anyone else had a problem with the seatbelt not retracting during an accident which would prevent the driver from going into the steering wheel and sustainin a very painful injury? My airbag did not deploy since I was hit on the passenger side and Right front. I have notified Nissan and they are investigating. Meanwhile, I have a painful injury which will take about 12 weeks to heal according to the Doctor.
  • aldan93aldan93 Posts: 202
    I know what it is! Its your Oxygen Sensor(S), which one? Maybe the rear one, back of the cat, the other one is just out the the exhaust mani. behind the radiator. I'm almost 80% sure this is the problem!! The rear ones go first, but are only suppose to last 50-60k, so if your car has 90k plus like my 97 Altima, this a maint. item that should be replaced every 50-60k so it doesn't happen! Sounds like the problem!!! Good Luck! They around $50 plus, each, and are easy to replace, if not rusted into the exhaust!!!
  • I bought my 2.5 SL in November 2001.
    In November 2002, my "service engine soon" light came on. I took it to a dealer, and the computer "could not find" anything.
    It happened on a road trip three weeks ago. Same thing, the dealer cleared the computer because the codes showed no problems.
    A couple of days ago, it came on again. I took it in today, and FINALLY, they tell me my catalytic converter needs to be replaced. Thank God for extended warranty <smile>!
    I just hate that in less than 2 years, this happens.

    My other issue, and I've made a formal complaint to Nissan, is the tires are hard to find. I've gone to Sears, NTB, COSTCO and no one has the tires for that car. The dealer I go to gave me the number to a wholesale tire place here locally and THEY had to search for the tires!
    I went online to and found the tires for very cheap -- $44 a piece. I don't like the fact that I have to special order my tires. Nissan could have at least used common size tires!

    Other than that, I love my Altima!
  • aldan93aldan93 Posts: 202
    Reason your convertor went is because your car is not burning the sulfer out of the fuel, I would replace both 02 sensors, because in 2 years if you keep it you will have the same problem!!!
  • 2altowner2altowner Posts: 1
    Just curious if anyone has run into a similar problem.

    I will be driving along at varying speeds and the speedometer, tach, and engine temp gauges will either freeze or just go limp.. The digital mileage reading displays either nothing or funky characters. The effect happens for a few minutes and the unit will "snap" back to where it should be, like with the mileage tally picking up with it left off.

    I mentioned it to the dealership and they said it's a Speedo issue... which I can buy, but I don't quite get how that would effect the engine temp gauge and tach.

    If anyone has any information, please let me know.

  • mrholtymrholty Posts: 10
    Ok, I apologize for the length of this in advance.
    The Background:
    I got my 2000 Altima about a year ago, with about 24K on it. I got the car from my girlfriends brother who bought it for me at auction. His mechanic checked it out everything seemed pretty good. I keep up the scheduled maintenance (oil changes, filters, etc).

    The Problem:
    In May, the serpentine belt broke while driving home one night. Had the car towed to a local garage. They ordered a new belt from a Nissan dealer, and had it installed. Paid for it and I thought everything was fine. However, I never needed to use the A/C. When I went to use the A/C in June, all it did was pump out a lot of hot air.
    A separate issue, in April, my front windows started to stick on the way up(down worked fine), both passenger and driver. Eventually, the passenger side stopped completely. So, I finally decided to take the car in to get these items fixed.

    I get a call the following day saying that I need these items fixed:
    1. To get a 30,000 mile tune-up. Cost $299.00, he said probably less as I wouldn't need everything done to it. I said sure at this point.
    2. To get the windows working I need a new power window main switch. Cost $119.95.
    3. After doing a diagnostic on my A/C (cost $175.00) I need a new compressor as mine has frozen. Cost $850.00.
    4. Need the pads replaced on my front brakes ($90 + labor)

    Well, I said ok to the tune up, I thought it would be ok, I needed an oil change, rotate the tires, etc and if I am having these problems now with the A/C and windows, lets get it all fixed so I am ok with the windows, brakes and tune-up. I come in on Saturday to pick it up. Total cost $1100.00. I almost choked, I was expecting $600-700, unfortunately, nothing they quoted included labor. That's a new one to me.

    Ok so I am about to leave, I check the windows. Guess what, the passenger side doesn't work. They now claim that I had a bad main switch and a bad motor so that they couldn't diagnose the motor. I say bullsh*t they didn't even check. They say if I don't change the motor, the one main switch in the drivers door will short and fail again. They also need to replace the switch on the drivers side. They need an additional $550.00 to fix this after a rebate of $75.00 because of not fixing it before. I have already spent $230.00 on this (120 labor+111 part(main switch)

    2. They say the compressor is frozen. The manager dances around what would cause it. I ask about the serpentine belt being replaced earlier as it worked until that point. He says that some wires may have been disconnected which would cause the compressor to stay on at all times having it freeze. I ask if he will put this in writing as I would then like to go back to the other shop who replaced my serpentine belt to see if they will pay for it. However he will not put it in writing.
    3. the 30,000 mile service only covers labor. I get charged for 8 units of oil and 2 oil filters. I say no. He says yes. Additionally, I feel nickel and dimed over all of these $5 and $10 charges for trans. fluid, antifreeze, totaling $135.19(includes the 2 oil filters, and 8 quarts of oil)
    4. Additionally, I now feel that I didn't need to get my brakes fixed as I don't trust them with anything else they did. Do I really need the brakes to be replaced after 30,000 miles, with labor being $168 and pads $90.

    What should I do. They have my car as I wanted the windows repaired but I do not want to pay an extra $500 bills to get it done. Advise?

    (sorry about the length)
  • zueslewiszueslewis Posts: 2,353
    you drop your vehicle off, and go over the repairs in person instead of over the phone. A run down to the dealer at lunchtime can save you money.

    Additionally, never do services on a 30-60K that aren't listed in the owner's manual. Many dealerships pad their 30-60K services for additional profit.

    Question - if they told you the a/c compressor was going to cost $850, how could you expect only a $600-700 bill?

    Yes, you could easily need brake at 30,000 miles, but why let the dealer do it? Go back to the original shop or two another private mechanic. In fact, there's no warranty issues, so why not go to a private import shop - the kind that deals with Nissan/Honda/Toyota? They have more at stake than a dealer when doing business and usually don't try to fluff their bills.
  • mrholtymrholty Posts: 10
    Sorry if I didn't make that clear. They told me $800 for the A/C which I decided was not worth it. Therefore expecting the windows to be fixed, a regular tune-up, and brakes changed, I figured out $600-700. Unfortunately, my windows still do not work, I have an issue with their billing (some items charged twice) and I've put out $1,100. I thought if I got my windows fixed that I could live without the A/C. Thanks for the advise about the private import shop, always figured that these guys would pad items more than dealers. Unfortunately, I went out of my way to go to this dealer as one of my coworkers had great things to say about the sales side of the place.

    I guess my real question is. How do I go from here. At this point all I want is my windows fixed. I don't trust the dealer so I'd prefer to go somewhere else. However, if I go somewhere else I'll probably have to start over. My main question is with the windows. My belief is that it was mis-diagnosed. If the motor needs to be replaced, then replace it. However, I should not have to pay for a switch that I didn't need and the labor that goes along with it.

    Is this thinking wrong? I've already fought with them about the over billing and I've gotten nowhere.
  • flea4flea4 Posts: 6
    Nissans Owners,here I am again about 7 months since my last posting back in December 2002.The two new Bridgestone Turanzas(17" low profile) that I had put on the front of my 2002 Altima 3.5L are once again ready to be replaced with approx. 7,000-7,500 miles on them.I can't even reach the 7,500 mile rotation intervals that Nissan recommends in the owners manual.The vehicle has 18,000 plus miles on it and I will be installing my fourth set of front tires.At 165.99 a pop,this is getting a little ridiculous.I'm still searching for someone out there who has had a similiar problem,but as of right now,nobody has come forward.I will be taking the vehicle back to the dealer once again to get their standard response that there is nothing they can do,it's not a Nissan problem,but a tire problem.Any suggestions or educated opinions?
  • rsteuartrsteuart Posts: 1
    I too have been told that my shimmy issue in steering wheel is in my head and normal for this "stiffer" type suspension. I have tried everything and this really plagues a great car! I am suspcious that is has something to do with the adaptive steering "malfunction" as it seems worse after I really floor it then coast along at the 55-70mph range. Any resolutions???
  • mortdlmortdl Posts: 1
    I am having a similar problem to post #141. Mice have somehow found a way into my Air Conditioning/ Ventilation System. I first found out when bird seed started coming out of my vents. I took my car to the dealer to have cleaned out. They found a nest and lots of bird seed. I no longer have bird seed in my vents but there is now an awful odor.

    I am told it would it cost another $500 to have completely cleaned out. Anyone have any suggestions?
  • mickei26mickei26 Posts: 2
    I too am having the same problem. I own a 98 nissan gxe. When I put gas in the car it squirts back at me. I have to put a little in at a time. and you're right, it's very scary. Anyone know what causes this?
  • maria23maria23 Posts: 2
    Dear Nissan owners, I've got several problems with my Nissan Altima 96 GXE - please help!!
    I've bought it used (116 K mi) 5 month ago, and it was running perfect all this time. 3 days ago I've got "emission control check" light on, and at the same time the car became using much more gas as it was before, became accelerating badly and so on. Today I went to mechanic, and he found several troubles: first, the catalytic convertor was absent!! (thanks to dealers), and the O2 sensors died (code P0136). Second, engine timing chain makes noise.
    Well, I can put the convertor and sensors on, but I'm not sure it'll solve the problems with reliability and gas usage.
    What to do with timing chain? How it's linked to the problems I've got? I would not say I want to change it for $1800, plus to pay $700 for convertor, if all the car cost me $4300..
    Please advise me!!! Thanks :)
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