Find the depreciation rate of your Nissan Altima in the graph below.
Vehicle depreciation refers to the process of losing value, which begins as soon as you purchase a new vehicle and drive it off the lot. The steepest depreciation usually occurs in the first year of ownership, after which the average annual depreciation rate tends to slow.
The make and model of a vehicle can significantly influence the depreciation rate, and knowing how your specific vehicle depreciates enables you to determine its long-term value and the total cost of ownership. In the case of a newer-model Nissan Altima, the average annual rate of depreciation levels off from the third to the seventh year of ownership before further slowing thereafter.
Keep in mind that just because the vehicle costs the least to own in the sweet spot we have outlined here, you still may not want to own the vehicle during these depreciation sweet spot years. Although vehicles depreciate less as they get older, they have more repairs. Duh right? However, keep in mind that repairs don’t just cost you money, they cost you time. Reliability is the difference between being able to make it to your destination on time or missing an opportunity because the car broke down.
Check out our article on the best and worst years of the Nissan Altima to see our reliability ratings for all years of the Altima between 2001-2021. We also cover MPG, safety ratings, and a number of other factors. We pulled data from Altimas registered in our app and surveyed owners to get you data-backed answers on just how good or bad each year of the Altima is.
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Nissan Altima Depreciation
|Model Years||Mileage||Amount Depreciated||Residual Value Percentage||Resale Value|
This chart provides a breakdown of the approximate depreciation for a Nissan Altima. The figures are based on Kelley Blue Book data since 2001, assuming that the vehicle has a standard trim, a generic color such as black or white, and a mileage of 12,000 per year.
Keep in mind that the auto market was heavily affected in 2020 and beyond. Automakers selling new cars during the COVID pandemic raised prices, which caused a spike in demand in the used car market as people tried to save money. Many automakers, however, did not drop prices after the pandemic, they kept them so they could make a larger profit.
This is why the most recent years of many vehicles have seemingly experienced less depreciation. Some, such as 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2015-2022, may have even appreciated due to the heightened levels of inflation created.
Factors That Impact the Nissan Altima Depreciation Rate
Consumer Reports describes Nissan’s product line as “inconsistent.” Some models perform quite well and deliver impressive fuel economy, others may leave the owner wanting more, and still others (such as Rogue and Pathfinder) have demonstrated marked improvement over the years. The Altima appears to fall somewhere in the middle on the spectrum of “good” and “could be better,” owing to its spaciousness, user-friendliness, and fuel efficiency, but overall unremarkable driving experience.
That said, we can describe the Nissan Altima as ordinary, a quality reflected in its depreciation. According to Progressive, many cars lose around 20% of their value after one year, which means the Altima’s first-year depreciation of 17.3% (as indicated in the above table) is approximately average.
Aside from the reputation of the automaker and the model, several other factors influence the depreciation rate and resale value of your specific vehicle, such as:
The age of your vehicle depends on its model year. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration defines a model year as the “year used to designate a discrete vehicle model, irrespective of the calendar year in which the vehicle was actually produced, so long as the actual period is less than two calendar years.” Given the loose definition, automakers generally release a new model-year vehicle in the preceding calendar year. For example, the 2023 Nissan Altima was released in fall 2022.
The current model year, being new, holds more value than any other model year. That’s because automakers typically update each new model year with fresh, more appealing features, and some model years introduce a new generation or body style — all factors that may raise the vehicle’s value. What’s more, as soon as a new model year comes out, the current model year begins to drop in value. So, if you purchase a brand-new 2023 Altima in November only for Nissan to release the 2024 model soon afterward, your vehicle may depreciate faster than expected.
Body type refers generally to a vehicle’s shape and size. The primary body types for all vehicles are:
- Sports cars
- Station wagons
- Sport-utility vehicles
- Pickup trucks
The Nissan Altima is a sedan, defined as a four-door passenger vehicle with a “three-box” body — the engine (front box), the cabin (middle box), and the trunk (third box). Once upon a time, sedans were the most popular body type in the North American market, but that’s no longer the case. A complex history related to changes in fuel economy standards unintentionally encouraged automakers and buyers toward larger vehicles over more than 30 years. As a result, smaller passenger cars are in lower demand among Americans, which may lead to faster depreciation compared to SUVs and trucks.
Mileage is the overall distance a vehicle has traveled in its life so far. It impacts a vehicle’s value because it represents the rate of use and approximates wear and tear. But mileage alone doesn’t tell the whole story; mileage per year may have a closer correlation with a vehicle’s condition. In the United States, the average mileage is 12,000 to 15,000 miles a year. So, you may consider a five-year-old Altima with just 50,000 miles on the odometer to have relatively low mileage, and its depreciation may be slower.
A vehicle’s overall condition refers to how good it looks and how well it runs. If you have an Altima with no accident history, an up-to-date maintenance record, and a pristine appearance both inside and out, you can expect it to retain its value better than an Altima that looks banged up and has operating issues.
With respect to condition, there are several things you can do to maximize your Altima’s resale value. First, keep up with its maintenance schedule. Regular oil changes, tire rotations, and diagnostic checks can prevent mechanical damage. Second, drive carefully, as you don’t want to damage your Altima in a collision. And third, keep it looking nice by washing it regularly and avoiding damage to its body and upholstery.
Believe it or not, a vehicle’s color has a significant impact on its depreciation and resale value. A study conducted by the used-car site iSeeCars.com revealed that vehicles in yellow, beige, orange, green, or red depreciate at a comparably slower rate, possibly owing to their boldness and relative scarcity on the road. Vehicles in colors such as white, gray, silver, and black depreciate at a rate closer to average because they’re so common. With that in mind, you can boost your vehicle’s resale price by choosing a higher-value color.
Other Costs of Nissan Altima Ownership
The total cost of ownership of a vehicle is a combination of many factors, and the rate of depreciation is just one. Other costs of owning a Nissan Altima include:
Some vehicle makes and models cost less to insure than others. The national average cost for full-coverage auto insurance is around $1,630 per year. The average cost of insuring a Nissan Altima is only slightly above the average, with full coverage running around $1,750 per year. However, your location plays a big part in the insurance rates you get. For example, in Virginia, you may be able to insure a Nissan Altima for as little as $1,116 per year.
Routine maintenance of your Nissan Altima will ensure that it continues to run smoothly. Regular oil changes, tire rotations, and other services prevent mechanical issues, preserve vehicle components, and improve fuel efficiency. The average cost of maintaining a Nissan Altima is $669 per year, which is slightly below the average for all makes, models, and body types. But if we limit our analysis to a particular body type, we see that the Altima is slightly more costly to repair than the $650 annual average for sedans.
We should note, however, that some model years of the Nissan Altima may be more expensive to maintain. The 2001 and 2004 models, especially, carry a high potential for costly repairs owing to reliability issues. The 2008 and 2011 models can also present problems for the same reasons. Most other model years are dependable, with the 2018 and 2021 models boasting particularly low average costs for repairs.
The Best Model Year To Buy a Nissan Altima
Based on factors including price and reliability (but not depreciation), our choice for the best Nissan Altima model years to buy are 2010, 2012, and 2013-14, but check out our article on the best and worst years of the Altima to get the whole story.
When you buy a Nissan Altima in the above model years, you not only fall in the sweet spot of Altima ownership but also enjoy additional advantages related to the total cost of ownership. For example, the 2013-15 model years have good fuel economy, cost less than the average to run and maintain, and boast high reliability scores.
Buying a Nissan Altima New vs. Used
|Years Since Purchased||Depreciated Value||With Inflation|
A brand-new 2023 Nissan Altima has a starting MSRP of $25,490, and its estimated resale value in three years is $16,798, representing a total accumulated depreciation of $8,692.09. In comparison, a used 2021 Nissan Altima has a current value of $20,204, which equals a total accumulated depreciation of $7,777.92 against an inflation-adjusted MSRP.
Research can help ensure that you get the best value from buying a used vehicle. In addition to the data we’ve covered in this article, use reliable sources such as Kelley Blue Book to identify characteristics of a slower-depreciating Altima.
The data presented in this article relates to the base-level trim for the Nissan Altima with standard options. Choosing a higher-level trim and adding optional features increases the initial value of the vehicle and may contribute to a slower rate of depreciation. When you choose to sell the vehicle, additional factors may contribute to the price, including:
- The vehicle’s mileage and condition
- The sale type (dealer trade-in or private sale)
- The potential impact of the COVID-era chip shortage
Keep in mind, there are large economic factors at play here too and the sale of new cars has caused shifts in the used market too. There is a stark difference in the cost of vehicles due to car manufacturers seeking higher profit margins after COVID as detailed by CNN and posted by CBS channel 58:
“… (T)he auto industry saw sky-high profits even as sales plummeted. Domestic manufacturers of cars and car parts saw a profit of $32 billion through the third quarter of 2022 (the latest data available) — their largest profit since 2016. Car dealerships also reported record-breaking profits through Q3, according to auto-retail advisers Haig Partners.
“That’s because pandemic-era pent-up consumer demand remained strong as supply shifted, allowing automakers to increase their prices and their profit margins. Cars and trucks were sold nearly as soon as they hit dealership lots, and the average price paid for a vehicle in December soared to a near-record high of $46,382, according to J.D. Power.
“Data from the Labor Department’s November Consumer Price Index shows American consumers are paying about 20% more for cars than they were in 2019.
“The trend could continue into next year — research website Edmunds expects new-car sales to hit 14.8 million in 2023, a marginal increase from last year but well below pre-pandemic levels.
“The auto industry has entered a new era: Less choice, higher prices, and larger profit margins. So far it seems to be working for them.”
This shift by car companies to create higher profit margins by taking advantage of the heavily-reported-on chip shortage panic of COVID has had rebounding effects upon the value of used cars.
Be aware that newer years (the latest 3-4 model years) may be inflated in price because of this and depending on how big this problem is for the model you are considering – it may even be inflating the price of the older model years.
Frequently Asked Questions About Vehicle Depreciation
The Nissan Altima seems to hold its value well. Losing approximately 20% of its value after one year and 53.7% after five, it is at least on par with the overall average. Remember, though, that various factors can lower or raise its resale value, including the vehicle’s color, mileage, and condition.
Also, don’t discount the impact of where and how you sell your vehicle down the line. Say that you have a black 2020 Nissan Altima S with standard options, 36,000 miles, and good condition. If you sell it privately in, say, Kansas City, you may get between $18,400 and $20,200 for it today, but taking that same car to Philadelphia may net you a smaller sale between $17,600 and $19,400. If you opt for a dealer trade-in, then you’re looking at $16,466-$17,977 and $15,817-$17,328, respectively.
Considering the rate of depreciation and characteristics such as reliability, safety, and costs, we would say the best years of the Nissan Altima are 2010, 2012, and 2013-2015, with honorable mentions for the 2016-2018 and 2019-2021 models. Altimas in these model years are generally reliable and relatively inexpensive to maintain.
Low reliability, low safety ratings, and high repair costs give a bad reputation to the following model years, even if they fall in the sweet spot:
While the definition of “high mileage” may vary from owner to owner, we can look at facts and figures to come to a standard range. According to FIXD sensors and owner surveys, the average overall mileage for Nissan Altimas across all model years is 124,549. With that in mind, we may consider anything above 150,000 miles to be high mileage for this make and model.
The Nissan Altima data from FIXD sensors and owner surveys suggests that the highest average mileage is 200,000 in the 2001 model year. However, the average of all the years is only 124,549 miles.
As of 2023, anything from a nine-year-old Altima (model year 2014) to an 11-year-old Altima (model year 2012) should allow you to avoid most of the depreciation while enjoying at least five years in the ownership sweet spot.
(2023.) Nissan. Consumer Reports. Retrieved August 4, 2023, from https://www.consumerreports.org/cars/nissan/
(2022.) What Is Car Depreciation? Progressive. Retrieved August 4, 2023, from https://www.progressive.com/answers/what-is-car-depreciation/
(2002.) Code of Federal Regulations, Part 565 — Vehicle Identification Number Requirements. GovInfo. Retrieved August 4, 2023, from https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/CFR-2002-title49-vol5/xml/CFR-2002-title49-vol5-part565.xml
(2023.) Why Americans Love Big Cars. Vox. Retrieved August 4, 2023, from https://www.vox.com/videos/2023/7/25/23807518/cars-suvs-americans-big-automobiles-travel
(2023.) The Best and Worst Car Colors for Resale Value. iSeeCars. Retrieved August 4, 2023, from https://www.iseecars.com/car-color-study
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