Nissan Altima Problems

RepairPal has identified the most common problems with the Nissan Altima as reported by 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 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. 

The electronic throttle actuator (throttle body) can fail causing a loss of power and illumination of the Check Engine Light.

An engine vacuum leak from the  intake manifold gasket may cause the engine to misfire or have a rough idle which may also illuminating the Check Engine Light.

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.

Crankshaft and camshaft position sensors can leak oil into the connector causing Check Engine Light illumination. The engine may also stall as a result. Leaking sensors should be replaced. Certain 2002 models were recalled for a separate camshaft and crankshaft sensor issue. For more information on the recall please click here»

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.