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Nissan Altima Problems

RepairPal has identified the most common problems with the Nissan Altima based on complaints from actual vehicle owners. We'll tell you what the problem is and what it'll take to fix it.

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Known Problems

The engine mount on the right side can wear prematurely and cause excessive engine movement.

The AC system may blow warm air due to refrigerant loss caused by a leaking low pressure AC hose. These hoses commonly develop a leak at the hose crimp connection.

Welds on the catalytic converter heat shield can corrode causing a rattle during acceleration and possibly causing Check Engine Light illumination. The common repair for this issue is replacement of the damaged catalytic converter.

The throttle body for the Nissan Altima is known for carbon buildup, and requires regular, light cleaning to maintain peak performance. After cleaning the throttle body, many owners notice a very high idle, erratic (bouncing) idle, and unpredictable power surging. 

The cause is normal ECU adaptation: When the throttle body builds up carbon, the rate of airflow is slightly decreased. The vehicles computer reads this decrease in air volume, and adjusts the throttle body settings to maintain the proper engine idle speed. When the carbon is cleaned out, the ECU now registers too much air, and cannot adjust back to the original settings. While it is trying to change settings, the idle will bounce from low to high, and the car will surge forward at times. 

It has been recommended to simply wipe inside the throttle body every 12,000 miles, and never to touch the flap inside. Also, the cleaning procedure may be best left to a qualified technician.

The solution can be as simple as disconnecting the battery for at least an hour, having the dealer reset the computer, or, in extreme cases, replace the throttle bodies. 

Several owners have reported instances of vehicle stalling at random. Professional diagnosis by a qualified shop is recommended. Issues could begin with various engine control sensors to fuel system modules and other major components. Diagnosis of the issue will prevent unnecessary part replacement and expenditure.

Rattling and tapping in the front of the engine on the 2002-2016 Nissan Altima V6 is very evident, especially on cold starts. This rattling noise should not be taken lightly as it warns of upcoming timing chain failure. 

The cause of the noise is faulty timing chain guide rails and timing chain tensioners that wear out well ahead of schedule. These components are there to keep the timing chain tight and properly positioned. When these parts fail, the timing chain becomes loose, and pieces of the timing chain guides break off, falling into the oil pan. 

To remedy the situation, Nissan/Infiniti has made revised guides and tensioners, but replacement can be very costly. 

Proper oil change intervals and oil type may help slow or prevent the situation. 

Screws inside the intake manifold can become loose causing internal engine damage if they fall out completely. Our technicians report that using a strong thread locker on the power valve butterfly screws can help prevent them from becoming loose.

A problem in the vehicle speed sensor circuit may cause the Check Engine Light to illuminate.
A navigation unit that is failing can intermittently display a disc error on the screen.

The Camshaft position sensor can leak oil into its electrical connector causing the Check Engine light to illuminate. The engine may also stall intermittently as a result.