Nissan Maxima Reliability and Common Problems

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If you’re planning to buy a new or used car, the Nissan Maxima is a good choice. It’s a reliable four-door sedan that offers both engine power and an impressively smooth ride. Its average maintenance cost is considered above average compared to other sedans. However, its resale value is below average. According to CarEdge.com, it will have depreciated 67% after 5 years, taking into account that the car is kept in good condition.

Are Nissan Maximas Reliable?

The Nissan Maxima’s reliability scores are high among sedans. On RepairPal, it’s rated 4 out of 5, ranking 9th out of 32 car brands in the same category. Aside from its engine performance, it’s also known for its sleek design, roomy interior, and steep price tag. Older models may be less pricey, but lifespan may vary, depending on overall car care. The Maxima can easily go from 100,000 up to over 200,000 miles if it’s regularly maintained.

2020 nissan maxima side view
The Nissan Maxima is a reliable four-door sedan that offers both power and an impressively smooth ride. Image source: Nissan

Top Nissan Maxima Problems

The Nissan Maxima is a reliable model, but it may have different problems depending on its model year. Here are the most common issues owners have encountered with different Nissan Maxima models:

Leaking and Low-Pressure Air Conditioning (AC) Hose

If your Maxima’s air conditioner is blowing warm air, it’s likely due to refrigerant leaking from the crimped AC hose, which also causes low pressure in the system. This is one of the most common issues with the Nissan Maxima. Owners have reported this issue in the 2001-2012 year models, usually happening around 87,000 miles. Repair costs may vary, but some owners have reported spending around $200 to $400, depending on the replacement part’s price tag and labor costs.

Transmission Malfunction and Failure

Nissan Maxima transmission problems are widely known among car owners. They’ve reported that their car would jerk when shifting while it started. Some owners also observed rough gear transition, vehicle stalling, and slow acceleration, until their transmission totally failed. Some cases grew so severe that owners would no longer drive their cars, because they’d become dangerous and prone to collisions.

These transmission problems are common with the 2004-2006 Nissan Maxima, happening at around 90,000 to over 100,000 miles. Some owners have reached out to Nissan, but were simply advised that a total transmission replacement would fix it. These repairs come at a hefty price, averaging from $2,500 to over $3,000.

Electronic Steering Column Lock (ESCL) Failure

The 2009-2010 Nissan Maxima is known for problems with its electronic steering column lock (ESCL), which prevented the car from starting. The ESCL is supposed to deter theft. The key fob needs to be near the vehicle’s range for the ESCL to detect it, which then releases the steering wheel and allows it to rotate. In this case, owners have reported that the lock won’t let go of the steering wheel, so they were unable to start their cars.

Repair can be expensive, costing over $1,000 for an ESCL replacement. However, Nissan did roll out a service campaign, offering an ESCL replacement for free. It was also reported that Nissan would reimburse any repairs as long as the owners had proof of the service done. Nissan said the ESCL replacement would not have the steering wheel lock function, adding that the Maxima has other anti-theft features.

Faulty Front Seat Wire Harness

One of the most common 2006 Nissan Maxima problems is its front seat assembly. The wire harness in over 100,000 units of the 2006 model was reported to have been incorrectly installed, increasing the possibility of it being pinched under the driver’s seat. Combined with vibrations from driving, this defect may cause a short circuit, which could start a fire in the seat. Nissan announced a recall to address the issue in November 2005. It advised owners to take their cars to the nearest dealer to replace the defective wire harness and route it correctly.

Faulty Service Brakes

Nissan Maxima brake problems are also common. There were multiple recalls announced due to faulty service brakes. 2016 Nissan Maxima units were recalled in 2015 due to improperly mounted brake calipers, which could unexpectedly detach. In 2016, a recall was issued for some Nissan Maxima units of the same model year because the brake fluid was lacking, leading to increased braking distance. This makes the vehicle prone to crashes and collisions. All of these issues may be remedied with a trip to your dealership, so make sure to check if your car is included in these recalls.

Illuminated Check Engine Light Due to Oil Leak

Another common problem, specifically with the 2002-2014 Nissan Maxima, is oil leaking into the camshaft position sensor’s electrical connector. This may trigger the check engine light to turn on. In some cases, owners have reported that the engine would also stall periodically due to the oil leak. Many Maxima owners have reported having this issue at around 110,000 miles. The average cost to fix this issue is around $80 to $120, which may vary depending on part and labor costs.

2014 nissan maxima dashboard gauges
Another common problem, specifically with the 2002-2014 Nissan Maxima, is oil leaking into the camshaft position sensor’s electrical connector, which may trigger the check engine light to turn on. Image source: Nissan

Ignition Coil Failure

Older Nissan Maxima models, such as 1995-2009, are known to have ignition coil failure, which also turns on the check engine light. Some owners have reported that the faulty coil causes sparks that send feedback through the wiring harness, damaging other coils. You should fix this issue immediately to prevent further damage to other coils. This usually happens around 130,000 miles on average, but some have reported having the problem at around 49,000 miles. Having the ignition coil replaced can cost around $500 to over $660, depending on labor and component pricing.

Power Steering Pump Leak

The 1995-2013 Nissan Maxima is known for a power steering pump issue that may be difficult to diagnose. The most common symptoms include noisy and unstable steering caused by power steering pump leaks. The leaking fluid would drip on the lower control arm bushing, causing deterioration and failure. Overall vehicle control may be affected in extreme cases, so it’s best to get your car checked by a mechanic as soon as possible. This is a fairly common issue that happens around 120,000 miles. Total repair cost may vary, but is known to be on the expensive side, averaging from $400 to around $1000.

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