The Nissan Altima is a mid-size vehicle that Nissan has produced since the early 90’s. The Altima fits between the Sentra and the Maxima within Nissan’s model lineup.
The Altima has been offered with both 4-cylinder and six-cylinder options throughout the years. In certain years, the Altima has been offered with manual and automatic transmissions in both sedan and coupe forms.
If you are shopping for an Altima and are wondering how long it will last, this article will explain that in detail and give some tips to increase the lifespan of your Altima.
How Long Do Nissan Altimas Last?
Nissan Altimas are expected to last between 200,000 and 270,000 miles if they are properly maintained before suffering a failure that mechanically totals the car. An Altima owner who drives an average of 15,000 miles per year can expect this car to reasonably last between 13 and 18 years.
Many Altima owners have stated that they have more than 300,000 miles on their Altimas, and they are still running strong.
One thing to remember is that the cost of maintenance of your car typically increases as the car ages and requires more maintenance and the repair/replacement of more expensive parts.
How Long Will a Used Nissan Altima Last?
The length of time that a used Altima or any vehicle will last depends on several factors. Cars are machines and suffer mechanical failures just like any other machine.
Since Altimas are known to be reliable and do not have a reputation for excessive rust, we will measure the lifespan of an Altima by evaluating the following factor:
- The average mileage at which a major component fails at which point the Altima may be mechanically totaled since the cost of repair exceeds the value of the car.
Factors To Consider When Purchasing a Nissan Altima
The following list provides some factors that you should consider when buying a used Altima that will help to determine how long it will last:
Number Of Miles At The Time Of Purchase
In most instances, as a car gains more miles, the number of repairs that are required increases. Therefore purchasing a higher mileage Altima will increase the probability that you will need to make repairs to the car as you drive it.
City Mileage vs Highway Mileage
Another important factor related to mileage that should be considered is the type of mileage that was put on the car prior to your purchase of it.
This factor is typically one of the hardest to measure since the odometer does not differentiate highway vs city mileage.
Mileage driven in cities are typically more taxing on the car given the frequent starting and stopping of the vehicle. Highway miles are often known to be a bit gentler on vehicles since they tend to be driven at relatively constant paces without frequent stopping and starting.
Age Of The Vehicle
The age of the vehicle can also be a factor to consider when attempting to predict its longevity before mechanical failure occurs. As vehicles age, some components of the vehicle such as belts and gaskets can begin to deteriorate.
Quality Of Maintenance By The Previous Owner
An extremely important factor that largely determines the longevity of a used vehicle is how well the car was maintained by the previous owner.
There are certain maintenance items such as oil changes, air filter changes, and the exchange of transmission fluid that directly impact whether your Altima lasts 100,000 miles or 300,000 miles before suffering catastrophic failure.
A good way to determine the service history of a used car before purchase is to ask the owner to inspect the service records for the car. Typically the service records will show the type of repair or maintenance that was performed and the mileage that the repair/maintenance took place.
When inspecting the records, look for regularly occurring oil changes, a transmission fluid exchange occurring at the factory recommended time. If the car is higher in mileage also look to see that the spark plugs were changed at the factory recommended intervals.
If you notice large gaps between services or the absence of services, this may be a red flag that the Altima was not properly maintained.
Quality Of Your Maintenance Of The Altima
Even if the Altima was very well taken care of by the previous owner, your maintenance of the Altima will determine its longevity while you own it.
By not performing necessary repairs and maintenance, it is more likely that your car will need a major repair during your ownership of the vehicle.
The Number Of Miles You Plan To Drive Per Year
The number of years your Altima will last can vary depending on the number of miles you drive per year.
Since catastrophic failures of a reliable vehicle often occur as the car reaches higher mileage, the total number of miles driven per year can determine the longevity of your Altima.
Generally speaking, the more miles you put on your Altima per year could reduce the number of years that the Altima lasts before experiencing a catastrophic failure.
Poorly Repaired Accident Damage
A vehicle that has suffered body damage that was repaired improperly can also impact the longevity of the car.
In many instances, when body damage is improperly performed, the car may suffer from excessive rust which renders the car unsafe to drive even if it is mechanically sound.
Climate Where The Car Has Been Driven
Sometimes the area that a car was owned in can also determine how long the car will last.
In areas that receive precipitation in the forms of snow and ice, cars often suffer from premature rust as compared to vehicles driven in other climates. Vehicles in these regions receiving wintery precipitation often rust prematurely because of the chemicals used to thaw the ice on the roadways.
Additionally, vehicles that were owned near large bodies of saltwater can be prone to premature rust. As stated previously, excessive rust can shorten the longevity of your car.
What Is Considered A High Mileage Altima?
A Nissan Altima with 100,000 miles or greater is considered to be high mileage by most people.
Even though an Altima with this many miles would be considered to be high mileage, that does not mean that the car has seen all of its useful life.
There are many owners who report that they have exceeded 200,000 miles in their Altimas while other owners have crossed the 300,000-mile threshold.
On average, owners have reported their most costly repairs occurring between 80,000 to 100,000 miles depending on the generation of the Altima.
Is the Nissan Altima Reliable?
Repair Pal has given the Nissan Altima a reliability rating of 4 stars out of 5, and a ranking of 11th out of 24 for midsize cars. Repair Pal also lists the annual repair cost for an Altima to be $483.
Many owners of Altimas equipped with the 3.5L 6-cylinder engine suffered an increased number of catastrophic engine failures as compared to owners with the 4-cylinder engines.
Additionally, Altimas equipped with CVT transmissions suffered more transmission failure compared to owners with Altimas equipped with traditional automatic transmissions.
However, compared to other cars within the same tier, the Altima is a reliable vehicle.
As is the case with most vehicles, major components tend to fail more frequently with age and mileage driven.
Most Reliable Nissan Altima Years
Using the number of recalls and tsbs issued as the benchmark, some of the most reliable years of the Nissan Altima are 2018, 2020, and 2021.
Is the Nissan Altima Expensive to Maintain?
The Nissan Altima is a relatively inexpensive car to maintain when considering the frequency of repairs that need to be performed and the average cost of repair.
Common Problems That Can Affect the Altiima’s Lifespan
Researching some of the issues listed below in addition to other common issues may help you to determine if the model year of the Altima that you are considering is right for you.
Some commonly noted issues are:
Issue Catastrophic/Non-Catastrophic Additional Information
Leaking Oil Cooler O-ring Typically Non-Catastrophic This issue can become catastrophic is an excessive amount of oil has been lost and the car is driven with a low oil level.
Premature Wear of Front Struts Non-Catastrophic May negatively impact handling but this will not result in catastrophic failure.
Timing Chain Rattle Potentially Catastrophic The rattle is commonly caused because of faulty timing chain guide rails and tensioners. Failure of the rails or tensioners will cause catastrophic failure. Cost of replacing the rails and tensioners can also exceed the value of the car.
Timing Chain Failure Catastrophic This is often the next step after owners experience the timing chain rattle.
Fuel Pump Failure Non-Catastrophic Catalytic Converter Heat Shield Rattling Non-Catastrophic The welds on the catalytic converter erode causing the shield to rattle.
Leaking Camshaft & Camshaft Sensors Non-Catastrophic The O-rings for the Camshaft and Crankshaft position sensors can fail creating oil leaks.
Leaking Low Pressure A/C Hose Non-Catastrophic The crimp connection for the hose can fail.
Catalytic Converter Failure Typically Non-Catastrophic If the vehicle is operated under this condition material from the catalytic converter could be sucked into the engine causing catastrophic failure.
How Often Has The Nissan Altima Been Recalled?
The following chart provides the number of recalls that have been issued for the most recent 10 years of the Altima’s production.
Model Year Number of Recalls
Tips To Extend The Life Of Your Nissan Altima
The life of your Altima can be extended by properly maintaining it. Here are some tips for maintaining your Altima:
- Perform the factory recommended services at the recommended intervals
- Change your oil and other fluids as recommended by Nissan
- Change your Altima’s air and other filters as recommended
- Check the essential fluids for your car regularly and add fluids as necessary to keep the fluid at their proper levels
Nissan Altimas have a good reputation for their reliability. Even though certain years of the Altima have suffered from more recalls than others, overall Altimas are expected to last at least 200,000 miles. With proper care and maintenance, you may be able to exceed the 300,000-mile mark in your Altima.