5 Best And Worst Years For The Nissan Altima

Learn which Nissan Altima model is the good and bad to drive

The Nissan Maxima is probably superior to the Nissan Altima, especially regarding models.

When it comes to powering mid-sized cars, the Nissan Altima has always been in the middle of the bunch.

It is much more imposing than the Nissan Sentra but does not reach the heights of the Nissan Maxima.

The Nissan Altima has had many bad models over the years, hurting its reputation. However, it should also be known that there have been plenty of good models.

Seeing this dilemma, I have opted to discuss the best and worst years for Nissan Altima. Let’s find out them below:

Worst Years for Nissan Altima:

  1. 2013
  2. 2009
  3. 2002
  4. 2014
  5. 2005

Best Years for Nissan Altima:

  1. 2018
  2. 2021
  3. 2004
  4. 2020
  5. 1999

If any of these models is to your liking or has your interest, then stick around as I will talk about all of them in great detail.

I will also assess the car, in general, to help you see if it is worth buying, which is another reason to read the rest of this article!

What Are The Worst Years For The Nissan Altima? Which Years To Avoid

While each car is a different experience, there are some experiences that you just do not want.

These years have provided such undesirable experiences to their users that I just had to mention them so that you could steer clear of them.

1. 2013 Nissan Altima

It is almost a unanimous decision that the 2013 Nissan Altima be at the top of this list simply because of how universally hated this model was.

If you buy a used 2013 Nissan Altima in this day and age, you are making a very bad decision.

Not only is the 2013 model year notoriously known for its bad transmission and the array of other issues it came with.

I have placed the 2013 Altima at the top of the list because of the high amounts of complaints against its transmission.

The CVT transmission was so bad that it would vibrate and whine continuously and would eventually just fail.

This problem was so severe that it would affect the next two years of the lineup.

If this was not bad enough, the 2013 Nissan Altima also had a wide range of interior problems, such as console latch issues and broken door handles.

Additionally, the lights were also quite an annoyance.

2. 2009 Nissan Altima

Starting your car should not be an issue, but when it came to the 2009 Nissan Altima, it would simply not start.

This was due to a fault in the electronic steering column lock, which would prevent the 2009 Nissan Altima from even turning on.

Moreover, this issue and the frequency at which it was present made it such that the 2009 Nissan Altima took second place on this list.

The only way to fix this steering lock failure was to have the dealers get you a replacement which could easily cost over $1,000.

Lastly, this was money you could not afford to spend simply because you had to use it to fix other issues in the car, such as transmission and engine problems.

3. 2002 Nissan Altima

The 2002 Nissan Altima takes 3rd place on this list because of its horribly bad engine.

These engines had a massive design flaw that made them burn oil like there was no tomorrow.

This would occur to the point that the catalytic converter would go bad. Slowly, the entire engine would degrade and would need to be replaced.

In addition, this would almost always occur at or around the 95,000-mile mark. Engine failure is a big issue; dealing with it can be a very big financial hurdle.

On top of this, you must deal with the prospects of your catalytic converter failing. Both of these issues require you to replace the components.

4. 2014 Nissan Altima

While it was not as bad as the 2013 Nissan Altima, the 2014 model was still rough around the edges.

It had managed to cut many of the problems of the 2013 model, but the overall complaints against the 2014 Nissan Altima were still very high, so I decided to place it at 4th place on this list.

In essence, the 2014 Nissan Altima managed to continue the trend of the 2013 model by having a very poor transmission.

Whining and vibration were still common, and so was the fact that it would eventually just die altogether.

This would result in a huge financial investment to replace the component.

Aside from this, the 2014 model year had minor issues that spanned across its lights, steering, and AC.

5. 2005 Nissan Altima

Ending this list is the 2005 Nissan Altima, which can take this final spot due to two major reasons; broken motor counts and rusty floor pans.

All of this would culminate in a very bad engine that would not last very long and completely drain itself off any oil you added into it.

The car was also poorly received because of these problems and issues with the rest of the body and the transmission.

Moreover, the paint of the car would start to chip off, and this would lead to heavy rusting.

On the transmission side, it was not looking too good either, with regular jerking and rough shifting leading to transmission failure being quite common.

What Are The Best Years For The Nissan Altima? Which Years To Buy

The Nissan Altima may have given you some bad impressions of the model above, but the fact remains that there have been plenty of good models as well.

I will talk about, what I think, are the best models for the Nissan Altima in this section of the article.

1. 2018 Nissan Altima

Seeing the success of the Nissan Maxima, it was only a matter of time before the Nissan Altima would try and emulate its success.

In 2018, it would do so by putting out the 2018 Nissan Altima, which had Nissan Maxima like styling. Many fans of both lineups appreciated this.

The looks of the 2018 Nissan Altima model year were not just good on the outside, as the inside was brimming with quality. The roominess of the interior only enhanced this.

Its general lack of issues made the 2018 Altima stand out. The steering felt amazing, and the car was absolutely enjoyable to ride in, with little to no noise from the outside.

This year brought five different trims into the market, each with its features. Automatic emergency braking was made standard, and the car was available in 4 and 6-cylinder engines.

2. 2021 Nissan Altima

Fast forward a few years, and you get the 2021 Nissan Altima which is already shaping up to be a hit classic.

While I generally do not place newer models so high up in these lists, I just had to make an exception for the 2021 Nissan Altima.

Not only does the 2021 model year make up for past mistakes by having a spectacular CVT operation, but it also comes with great fuel efficiency and innovative tech inside.

This year brought 6 trims into the mix. This time around, you could only choose between 2 four-cylinder engines.

Despite this and no significant changes over the 2020 model, the 2021 Nissan Altima was able to rid itself of the issues of the previous model.

3. 2004 Nissan Altima

A widely appreciated older model, the 2004 Nissan Altima came in 4 different trims. While the base trim lacked power, it offered a V6 engine overflowing with performance.

Coming in with high stability and great riding comfort, the 2004 Nissan Altima had very few downsides. This was enough for me to place it in 3rd place on this list.

Since the Nissan Altima transitioned to a new platform, there have been minor enhancements in the lineup, and the same can be said for the 2004 model year.

It deserves to be on this list because, despite its lack of innovation, it can provide a quality experience to its owners.

4. 2020 Nissan Altima

The success of the 2021 Nissan Altima could not have been possible without creating the 2020 model.

Available in 7 different trims, the 2020 model year gave its audience a lot of choices.

Many changes that would later transition into the 2020 model were first implemented in the 2020 Nissan Altima.

These great features, which allowed for improvement, made the 2020 Nissan Altima model a good fit for 4th place on this list.

It is not ranked higher because there were a few issues that the year brought in its models.

5. 1999 Nissan Altima

An even older model, the 1999 Nissan Altima, was released, with four different trims with the same engine.

While it did have its shortcomings, it was still able to provide a powerful and swift vehicle, as was seen by its stellar riding quality.

While it did not pack a lot of power, it was still quite respectable and great for a mid-sized vehicle of its nature.

The 1999 Nissan Altima does not have much running for it regarding features, which may be a good thing if you are into more old-school and vintage cars.

Overall, this year is great for people who just want a nice riding experience in an all-around great vehicle.

How Reliable Is A Nissan Altima?

If you are looking for a reliable vehicle, then depending on the model, the Nissan Altima might be the car for you.

Overall, it is in a very comfortable position regarding reliability, standing right on average.

I will talk more about repair costs and longevity later in this article, but for now, you should be happy to hear that the Nissan Altima is quite reliable overall.

How Long Do Nissan Altimas Last?

Like many other cars, you should expect at least 13 years of service from the Nissan Altima. This translates to around 200,000 miles at minimum.

You can increase this life by taking good care of the car, bumping up the life up to 20 years or about 300,000 miles.

Some people can even get above this, but for the most part, 300,000 miles is a good max to expect.

What To Do To Lengthen The Life Of Your Nissan Altima

Here are a few steps that you can apply in your daily life to make sure that the Nissan Altima stays running for as long as possible:

  • Regular cleaning and polishing.
  • Align and repressurize the tires every 4 to 6 months.
  • Use quality fuel.
  • Check the fluids of the car every two months.
  • Try to avoid rough and bumpy roads.

Doing all this will lead to a huge increase in the life of the Nissan Altima and prevent problems from rising.

Things That Shorten The Lifespan Of Your Nissan Altima

You should also avoid certain actions when dealing with a Nissan Altima.

Here are some activities that may be hurting the lifespan of your vehicle:

  • Using cheap quality parts for replacement.
  • Not going to the mechanic if you believe there is a problem.
  • Drive off the road.
  • Overloading your car.
  • Harsh or rough driving.

You try to avoid these actions if you want your Nissan Altima to last as long as possible.

3 Most Nissan Altima Common Problems You Should Know

If you have finally decided to buy Nissan Altima then I think I should mention some of the most common problems here. You can find them below.

1. CVT/Transmission Problems

Throughout the years, there have been many different models of the Nissan Altima, but many of them have had issues with their transmission.

The 2009 transmission was especially bad because it created a major transmission issue that would last the next few years.

This would eventually cause the transmission to fail, resulting in owners having to change their transmission entirely, which was not a cheap thing to do.

2. Engine Problem

Most cars have some engine issues, but many of the worst models of the Nissan Altima also have this on top of various other problems.

Excessive oil consumption is a good way to gauge that your Nissan Altima’s engine may not last long.

Many engines with this issue eventually had to be replaced due to them failing entirely, causing the catalytic converter to do so.

3. Steering Wheel Lock Failure

This issue was quite annoying in many Nissan Altima models simply because you could not even start your vehicle.

The issue was mainly in the car’s electronics, which caused the steering wheel lock to stay engaged. This prevented users from being able to start their cars.

The fix for this issue was also quite expensive, easily going over $1,000, so if you do not have a warranty, which quite certainly you don’t, you should prepare for a hefty replacement cost.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1: Is Nissan Altima A Good Car?

The Nissan Altima is, by all means, a good car. While certain models may give you some trouble, if you can steer clear of them, you should have an enjoyable experience with the vehicle.

Recent models are generally a safer bet and should be chosen over the models produced in the middle of the lineup.

Q2: Do Nissan Altimas Hold Their Value?

The Nissan Altima has a depreciation value of around 35%. While it could have been better, many would say that this is quite respectable, for the Nissan Altima is a mid-sized car.

This is further seen when you compare it to other competitor vehicles, which usually have a higher depreciation value.

Q3: How Many Nissan Altimas Have Been Sold?

It is quite difficult to gauge the total sales of a particular vehicle.

Luckily, according to reports, the Nissan Altima has sold well over 2.5 million units since it was first put into the market. This number is just for the United States alone.

Q4: Which Nissan Altima Engine Is The Most Reliable?

The best engine that has ever graced the Nissan Altima is the 2L VC Turbo.

This particular engine was good that it was among the top 10 best nest engines & propulsion systems list in 2020 organized by Wards.

Q5: Is Nissan Altima Expensive To Maintain?

The Nissan Altima will only take $483 annually if you do not get into an accident or need a major repair.

This is quite cheap when you find out that, on average, a mid-sized car takes around $526 per year.


The Nissan Altima has faced a lot of criticism over the years, and rightfully so.

While it has done everything to become a great lineup, it has a way to go before it can reclaim its lost respect from fans of the lineup.

At the rate that it is going, however, it should be certain that it should reach a good position fairly soon.

If you want to buy a model from this lineup in the near future, then you need to know the best and worst years for the Nissan Altima.

That way, you will be able to make an informed choice and one that will get your money’s worth.


Written by Kane Dan

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