The Maxima has been Nissan’s flagship sedan since it was dubbed the Datsun Maxima when it debuted in 1982. While it has been a popular car, the Japanese Automaker will discontinue it after the 2023 model year due to low sales and Nissan’s plan to focus on smaller cars and the electric market. Consistently offering a 3.5-liter V6 engine and continuously variable transmission (CVT), the Maxima is favored for its performance, sporty appearance, and luxury at a reasonable price.
Nissan vehicles are known for their reliable engines and innovative designs, and the Maxima is no exception. However, some years are batting well below average. With our unique and exclusive reliability data, we listed the best and worst years of the Maxima.
|Best Years||Why?||Worst Years||Why?|
High-reliability scores, excellent safety ratings, low number of recalls
Low reliability, a higher number of recalls, high annual repair and maintenance costs
Good reliability, low number of recalls and complaints
Low reliability scores, a large number of complaints, high repair costs
5-star safety rating, excellent reliability score, low maintenance costs, and good fuel economy
Low FIXD Reliability Score, expensive DTCs to fix.
Excellent Safety Scores, low maintenance and repair costs
Low FIXD Reliability Score, large number of DTCs, low safety rating
Low-reliability score, high repair costs,
Low-reliability score, a high number of steering complaints, expensive to fix diagnostic trouble codes
Nissan Maxima Engine Reliability Score, Safety Ratings, MPG, and Value v.s. Maintenance & Repair Costs – Year by Year
We created the charts and graphs below by examining data from FIXD scanners, owner surveys, and publicly available information. Then, we used the information to rank the best and worst years of the Nissan Maxima.
First and most heavily considered is the FIXD Reliability Score, followed by the Owner Reliability Score. The FIXD Reliability Score is generated using data from the FIXD sensors installed in Nissan Maximas. We created the Owner Reliability Score based on answers to a survey of Maxima owners.
We also charted the average safety scores acquired from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the miles per gallon derived from fueleconomy.gov. We also graphed the market value per Kelley Blue Book (KBB) against the annual maintenance and repair costs. We generated owner costs from the question, “How much would you say you spend on repairs and maintenance in 2022?” on our owner surveys
Before making our final decisions, we review the engine and safety components of each model year to understand how they influence the occurrence and severity of diagnostic engine codes (DTC) and recalls.
If you’re in the market for a car, take a look at our article on the USA’s most reliable and cheapest to repair cars in the U.S. Don’t get stuck with a lemon, use our data to help you shop.
Engine Reliability Score – Over The Years
Reliability takes the crown when determining the best and worst years of the Nissan Maxima. We’ve devised two unique scores using our exclusive data, making it easy to compare. Both scores use the same scale: 1 is the lowest, 5 is the average, and 10 is the highest level.
The first score is the FIXD Reliability Score, represented by the green line on the graph. We calculated this score by tracking the number of check engine lights (CEL) reported by our app users and dividing it by the number of cars. We then weighted the score based on an average of 12,000 miles driven annually.
The second score, the Owner Reliability Score (gray line), comes from surveys taken by Nissan Pathfinder owners. These surveys capture their firsthand experience and provide subjective opinions on reliability. We translated these responses into numerical scores. For more details on the question asked and our methodology for determining this score, please refer to the note about data and information section located at the bottom of this article.
Typically reliability charts start low with older models and gain reliability with newer ones. While the Nissan Maxima mostly follows this path, it looks like a roller coaster with many dips throughout the years. A ten-year-old car (2013) gets the highest FIXD Reliability Score (10/10), and a fifteen-year-old makes the best years list with an impressive 7/10. Another surprise is that a Maxima, only five years old (2018), gets the lowest FIXD Reliability Score (1/10).
Another commonality amongst vehicles is the first generation of a car with lower reliability. This is because new features and technology create new issues. The Nissan Maxima offers the same 3.5-liter V6 engine and continuously variable transmission throughout most of its lifecycle, and therefore this isn’t seen in every new generation of Nissan’s flagship vehicle. However, it is seen in 2009 when the seventh generation began. In 2009 the FIXD Reliability Score falls to 6/10 from 7/10 in the previous year, but it still makes our list of best Nissan Maximas.
The Owner Reliability Score is almost always higher than the FIXD Reliability Score. From 2002-2007 it is 5 points higher. In 2018 the FIXD Reliability Score is only 1/10, but the owner surveys earn it a 10/10.
A car’s reliability is often worse than an owner might want to believe. We hypothesize that owners of older models slowly become accepting of higher-than-average check engine lights being thrown because they have owned the car for a long time. They are either a frog in a pot of boiling water, not realizing the car is deteriorating slowly and getting worse. OR they simply haven’t compared the reliability of their older model to the often newer and more reliable models of today.
Loyalty to an older vehicle may also affect the Owner Reliability Scores. If a car has lasted 20 years, it would be immensely reliable in the owner’s eyes, even if it had to have repairs and triggered many CELs along the way.
The only year of the Nissan Maxima the Owner Reliability Score is lower than FIXD is 2013, where it scores a disappointing 4/10 while getting a perfect 10/10 FIXD Reliability Score. This could be due to issues unrelated to the engine. The FIXD Reliability Score only considers DTCs affecting the engine, so if someone has consistent mechanical problems with tires or suspension, they might believe it is pretty unreliable. Another contributing factor to 2013’s low Owner Reliability Score is that only one survey was submitted for that model year, resulting in a score based on the bias of one owner.
We will review the most common Nissan check engine lights in the best and worst years of the Nissan Maxima.
Nissan did not produce a 2015 Maxima, so it is not on the reliability chart. We don’t have enough overall data to include 2008 in our analysis.
NHTSA Safety Score – Over The Years
We looked at NHTSA data to chart the average safety rating of the Nissan Maxima, represented by the green line. We also plotted the average rating (gray line) of every vehicle we have data to compare.
Maxima has had an impressive safety rating in recent years, scoring 5/5 stars in the last five years. It has also been awarded the Top Safety Score+ by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) for six out of the previous ten years (2016, 2017, 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023).
2009, 2010, and 2011 all scored perfect five-star ratings, although they are still years we recommend avoiding.
Older years have lower safety ratings and are either tied with or barely above average (2001-2003) or below (2004-2008). Safety ratings were at their lowest in 2012-2014, where they got 3.8/5 stars.
Owning a car with a good safety score can help you get cheaper car insurance.
If you live in one of the states listed below, we can show you the cheapest vehicles to insure in yours.
|What Used Cars Are the Cheapest To Insure In:|
MPG – Over The Years
We used the average miles per gallon of all trim levels from fueleconomy.gov to plot the fuel economy of the Nissan Maxima.
The average for the Maxima is consistently above 20 miles per gallon, at 21 mpg from 2001-2008 and 22 mpg from 2009-2014. The Maxima wasn’t produced in 2015 but came back in 2016 with its best fuel economy at 25 mpg, which continued in 2017 and 2018. In the last five years (2019-2023), the Maxima has averaged 24 miles per gallon.
Compared to the Ford Taurus, 2016-2018 only has an average of 20 mpg, and its best years are 2013-2015 at 22 mpg. The Chevrolet Impala’s best years are 2017-2019 with 23 mpg. Beating all three of these cars is the fuel efficiency of the Honda Accord, which is above 25 miles per gallon starting in 2013 and even gets to 30 mpg in 2021 and 2022.
Current Market Value of All Nissan Maxima Years & Cost Per Year to Repair and Maintain Each
Using our data and information from KBB.com, we graphed the market value of the Nissan Maxima throughout the years (green line). We also used answers from owner surveys to graph the average annual cost of repairs for the sedans (gray line).
As with most vehicles, the newer Nissan Maximas have a higher value. However, 2008 and 2013 have lower market values than multiple years older than them. This is due to the high average mileage of these cars. Both 2008 and 2013 report 275,000 average miles. It is also important to note that the sample size for these two model years is much smaller than the others, which might be skewing the data.
2004-2007 are all worth a little bit more than the 2008 model year, with 2004 and 2006 reporting an average of 125,000 miles. 2005 has 133,333 miles, and 2007 still has 100,000 less than 2008 at 175,000. The high mileage of the 2008 Maxima inversely affects the value, causing a dip in the graph.
The 2013 Maxima tells the same story. The 2010, 2011, and 2012 have a greater market value. 2013 is only worth $4,696 with 275,000 miles, and the 2012 Maxima is worth $7,044 and only has an average of 104,167 miles. 2010 averages 125,000 miles and is worth $5,145, while the 2011 model has 133,333 miles and a market value of $5,216.
The repair costs of the Nissan Maxima are pretty steep, averaging $946. The highest years are 2003 and 2011 at $1,468; the lowest averages are 2018 at $250 and 2009 at $450.
When shopping for a used Nissan Maxima, it’s important to keep in mind that not all vehicles are cared for equally. To protect yourself from lemons, take along a FIXD Sensor on your test drive. FIXD connects to a free app on your smartphone to tell you more about the vehicle you’re checking out, including check engine lights and other hidden issues that the owner or dealership may be attempting to hide. Click here to learn more and get FIXD for only $19.99 (regular price $59)!
Important Features Timeline
1996: Four-way passenger seat now available, new center cupholder
1997: New exterior styling, including grille, headlights, taillights, and bumpers. Alloy wheels available on the SE trim
1998: New exterior color, Sterling Silver, now available. Side airbags optional for SE and GLE
1999: Nissan Traction Control System available on SE and GLE models, Ignition Immobilizer for enhanced security
2000: Debut of the fifth generation, interior space, and legroom increased, V6 engine produces 222 horsepower
2001: Available 20th-anniversary edition with 227 horsepower, new intake and exhaust manifolds in standard editions
2002: Another engine upgrade, 3.5-liter DOHC V6, produces 255-horsepower, addition of brake assist and xenon headlamps
2003: Titanium Edition for SE trim introduced, new front grille and fascia increases sportiness
2004: Complete redesign to introduce 6th generation, assembled in the United States for the first time
2005: Improved manual transmission shifting due to shorter stroke, chrome, and leather interior enhancements, addition of standard Nissan Advanced Air Bag System
2006: Illuminated steering wheel controls, improved navigation screen, and interface
2007: Continuously variable transmission replaces the 6-speed manual and 5-speed automatic, updated exterior and interior styling
2008: Relatively unchanged from last year’s enhancements, Platinum Edition Package is introduced with Bluetooth hands-free phone system, heated steering wheel, and driver’s seat power lumbar support
2009: Complete redesign for 7th generation, revised 290-horsepower 3.5 liter V6 engine.
2012: New Limited Edition introduced, mid-gen facelift, revised styling including updated grille and taillights
2013: New value package added to SV trim with heated front seats and 19-inch aluminum-alloy wheels
2014: Xenon headlights, backup camera, USB input, and 7-inch touchscreen display become standard.
2015: No Maxima Produced this year
2016: Brand new redesign for 8th generation, V6 engine reaches 300 horsepower, new Xtronic transmission
2017: Apple CarPlay and forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking become standard equipment in all trim levels
2018: An SR Midnight edition is available with blacked-out wheels and exterior styling. Android Auto becomes standard
2019: Multiple technology advancements such as Nissan Safety Shield 360 with ten airbags, standard LED headlights, new exterior styling
2020: Panoramic sunroof and 360-degree camera in mid-level SR trim, Safety 360 is standard equipment
2021: Limited 40th-anniversary edition, revised trims include SV, SR, and Platinum
2022: Heated rear seats
The Best Years of the Nissan Maxima
Using the FIXD Reliability Score and Owner Reliability Score, we ranked the best years of the Nissan Maxima from best to worst. We also examine the NHTSA safety ratings, fuel economy, market value, and repair costs. We also dive into the most common DTCs, and safety recalls in each model year.
2016-2017 Nissan Maxima
FIXD Reliability Score: 7/10
Owner Reliability Score: 10/10
KBB Value: $14,008-$14,710
Fuel Economy: 25 mpg
Annual Maintenance/Repair: $417-$1,042
Safety Rating: 4.8/5
The 2016-2017 Maxima is a complete redesign after Nissan didn’t produce any 2015 model years. Setting a tone for the 8th generation, the Maxima debuts with sporty features and performance while offering a luxury feel to a family sedan. The 3.5-liter V6 engine now produces 300 horsepower, and the Maxima is equipped with a new Xtronic transmission. It makes the top of our list of Maximas because of its great reliability scores, good fuel economy, and excellent safety scores.
The 2016-2017 Maxima scores an above-average 7/10 FIXD Reliability Score alongside a perfect 10/10 Owner Reliability Score. The alignment between these scores shows that owners are happy with the vehicle, and it has proven reliable. The average mileage of these cars is only 75,000, and with a price tag of less than $15,000, it would be a great Maxima to own.
The safety rating for 2016-2017 is 4.8 out of 5 stars, making it one of the safest family sedans on the market. This score ties with the 2016-2017 Ford Taurus but is higher than the Chevrolet Impala, which scored 4.4 in both years.
The annual repair cost of the 2016 Nissan Maxima is only $417, the second lowest of all years for which we have data (2018 is first). This defies the usual trend of a first year of the generation having multiple issues that need correcting. The average repair cost of the Maxima is $946 a year. The 2017 Maxima’s annual repair and maintenance cost is much higher, $1,046.
P0430 is the first most common DTC for the 2016 Maxima and the second most common for the 2017. This is bad news because it means “Catalyst system efficiency below threshold (Bank 2),” and is most commonly caused by a faulty catalytic converter. Replacing the catalytic converter can cost between $400-$2,400.
The first most common DTC for the 2017 Maxima and the second for 2016 is P17F1, which is more bad news for this sedan. P17F1 in the Nissan Maxima usually resulted in an automatic transmission replacement, costing $2,528-$3,045. The last common code is P0456, “EVAP Flow During a Non-Purge Condition.” P0456 is most commonly fixed by replacing the EVAP Purge Volume Control Valve, which costs $150-$200.
The 2016 Nissan Maxima shows its first-of-the-generation problems with its eight recalls and 107 complaints. 2017 Nissan Maxima greatly improved, with only four recalls and 73 complaints. Three recalls are related to brake fluid leaking into the ABS pump, creating a potential fire risk.
2013-2014 Nissan Maxima
FIXD Reliability Score: 6-10/10
Owner Reliability Score: 4-6/10
KBB Value: $4,696-$8,362
Fuel Economy: 22 mpg
Annual Maintenance/Repair: $750-$1,000
Safety Rating: 3.8/5
The 2013-2014 Nissan Maxima is popular for its sport performance with a luxury feel. The last model years of the seventh generation, 2013 introduced a new value package to its Maxima 3.5 SV trim, and 2014 added a Limited Edition package. These Nissan Maximas are some of the best due to the FIXD Reliability Score and solid fuel economy.
It is important to know that the data for 2013 is generated from a small sample size. The data could be skewed in either direction if more FIXD apps were installed in the 2013 model years and if more 2013 owners submitted complete surveys.
The FIXD Reliability Score for 2013 gets the highest of any other Nissan Maxima, with a perfect 10/10. This means fewer engine-related check engine lights (CELs) are triggered than in any other model year of this car. The Owner Reliability Score is lower than average, at only 4/10. This could mean issues unrelated to the engine affect their perception of the car. The main complaint is that the car is expensive to repair. It also spent an average of six days in the shop in 2022, four days higher than the average of two days.
The 2014 Maxima scores above average at 6/10 for both FIXD and Owner Reliability Scores.
Safety scores aren’t overly impressive at only 3.8 out of 5 stars. The lower score is mainly because the front passenger side NHTSA crash test only scored 2/5 stars. The rollover rating scored a perfect 5 stars. The 2013 Chevrolet Impala doesn’t fare much better, at only 4/5 stars.
The main complaint about these model years is that they are expensive to repair. While annual maintenance and repair costs for the 2013 Maxima are seemingly high at $750, it is lower than the average of $946. Another thing to note is there are 275,000 miles reported for the 2013 model, meaning it is reliable enough to be on the road for an extended time. The 2014 Maxima is $250 higher at $1,000 for annual repairs and maintenance.
The 2013 Nissan Maxima’s most common DTC is P0024, which means “Exhaust Camshaft Timing- Over-Advanced Bank 2.” This code could indicate a serious issue, including dirty or low oil, incorrect oil in the engine, or camshaft variable timing solenoid failure. It could also mean the camshaft phaser is seized in the advanced position or continuous oil flow to the variable camshaft timing chamber. The most common fixes to these potential issues are an oil change ($20-$60), a new oil control valve or variable valve timing control solenoid ($300-$400), or a new engine ($3,000-$4,000).
Second place for 2013 is P0031, which is “HO2S Heater Control Circuit Low (Bank 1, Sensor 1)” The most common fixes are replacing the oxygen sensor, which could cost $200-$300, or a possible wiring repair/replacement, which could cost anywhere from $100 to $1,000. Third place belongs to P0171, meaning Bank 1 has too much air or insufficient fuel. This typically indicates a vacuum leak, which might cost $100-$200 to repair.
The 2014 Maxima’s third most common DTC is 2013’s first, P0024. The most popular CEL for 2014 is triggered by P0420, or “Catalyst system efficiency below threshold (Bank 1).” P0420 is typically a result of a bad catalytic converter and a replacement costs anywhere from $1,538-$2,041. The next most common code is P0014, which means “Exhaust Camshaft Timing Over Advanced (Bank 1).” P0014 could be caused by the same things causing P0024 in the 2013 Maxima.
Another testament to the 2013 Nissan Maxima’s reliability is its zero recalls, zero investigations, and only 59 complaints. The 2014 Maxima has the same number of recalls and investigations but increases slightly to 84 complaints.
2019 Nissan Maxima
FIXD Reliability Score: 6/10
Owner Reliability Score: 8/10
KBB Value: $21,259
Fuel Economy: 24 mpg
Annual Maintenance/Repair: $750
Safety Rating: 5/5
It is no surprise that the newest Maxima we have data for is on our list of best Nissan Maxima’s. The 2019 Nissan Maxima is a four-door sports car that lets you transport your family in style. The 2019 Maxima has good reliability scores, great fuel economy, lower-than-average ownership costs, and a great safety rating.
The annual repair and maintenance cost for the 2019 Nissan Maxima is only $750. This is almost $200 lower than the average ($946). The only concern is that the average mileage is only 50,000, which makes $750 seemingly steep for a car driven with such low mileage.
Common DTCs for the 2019 Maxima include P0430 and P0456. P0430 means “Catalyst system efficiency below threshold (Bank 2)” and is most commonly caused by that dreaded catalytic converter ($1,538-$2,041). P0456 is an “Evaporative emission control system leak (small)” most commonly caused by a loose gas cap. Tighten it to spend no money for this fix, or replace it for $20-$60.
The 2019 Nissan Maxima continues its great track record for safety recalls and complaints, only having one recall and an impressive eleven complaints.
2009 Nissan Maxima
FIXD Reliability Score: 6/10
Owner Reliability Score: 6/10
KBB Value: $4,161
Fuel Economy: 22 mpg
Annual Maintenance/Repair: $450
Safety Rating: 5/5
2009 introduced the new 7th generation of the Nissan Maxima, seeing a complete redesign. With an all-new look and an upgraded V6 engine that produces 290 horsepower, Nissan focused on performance and luxury.
The FIXD Reliability Score and Owner Reliability Score for 2009 are above average at 6/10.
The 2009 Nissan Maxima gets a perfect 5-star safety rating, making it one of the safest cars on the road for that model year. This is higher than three of its major competitors, the 2009 Honda Accord (4.4 stars), the 2009 Ford Taurus (4.6 stars), and the 2009 Chevrolet Impala (4.6 stars).
Another great aspect of the 2009 Nissan Maxima is the low cost of annual maintenance and repair. At only $450, it is almost $500 lower than the average of $946.
Common DTCs for the 2009 Maxima are P0171 and P0174, indicating banks 1 and 2 have too much air or insufficient fuel. While the most common problem is a vacuum leak, there are multiple potential causes and repairs exist. These include:
- Vacuum leak $100-$200
- Clean MAF $100
- Replace MAF $300
- Fuel Pump $1300-$1700
- Fuel pressure regulator $200-$400
- Exhaust repair $100-$200 (if welded to repair)
- Air fuel sensor or oxygen sensor $200-$300
While the recalls stay low at only one, the 2009 Nissan Maxima sees another increase in complaints with 333.
The Worst Years of the Nissan Maxima
Listed from worst to best are the Nissan Maxima models we recommend avoiding. The main criteria are FIXD Reliability Score and Owner Reliability Score. We also considered safety ratings, miles per gallon, market value, and repair costs. Lastly, we look at the common DTCs and safety recalls.
2002-2003 Nissan Maxima
FIXD Reliability Score: 1-2/10
Owner Reliability Score: 5-7/10
KBB Value: $1,877-$2,097
Fuel Economy: 21 mpg
Annual Maintenance/Repair: $1,000-$1,438
Safety Rating: 4/5
The worst Nissan Maxima is the oldest for which we have adequate data, 2002-2003. The previous year (2001) introduced a 20th-anniversary edition, and the 2002 model gained an engine upgrade that brought the V6 up to 255 horsepower. 2003 introduced another new trim, the Titanium edition, and continued its trim toward a sportier family sedan with exterior style revisions. We recommend avoiding this car due to its low reliability, maintenance costs, and overall low market value.
FIXD Reliability Score is 1/10 in 2002 and 2/10 in 2003. The Owner Reliability Score is higher at 5/10 and 7/10, respectively. This is another indicator that owners aren’t aware of how unreliable their cars might be.
The safety rating for the 2002-2003 Nissan Maxima is 4 out of 5 stars. While this is equivalent to the 2002-2003 Ford Taurus (4/5), it is less than both the 2002-2003 Chevrolet Impala (4.4/5) and Honda Accord (4.6-4.8/5). While shopping for car insurance, a lower safety rating results in a higher premium, which could significantly affect the ownership costs of a 20-year-old vehicle.
Annual repair and maintenance costs are almost as high as the market value of the 2002-2003 Nissan Maxima, another reason to avoid it. The 2002 Maxima will cost an average of $1,000 annually, and 67% of owners reported a single repair costing over $500. The 2003 Maxima has the highest repair costs at $1,428, and there is an average of 100% chance for a $500+ repair.
The most common DTC for the 2002 Maxima is the dreaded catalytic converter ($1,538-$2,041) light, P0430. Another contributing factor to the low FIXD Reliability Score is the frequency of P0021 (Intake Camshaft Position Timing- Over-Advanced (Bank 2)). An engine oil issue or a camshaft problem mostly causes P0021. The most common fixes are an oil change ($20-$60), an oil control valve or variable valve timing control solenoid ($300-$400), or a new engine ($3,000-$4,000).
While it shares some of the same codes as the 2002 model, the 2003 Maxima adds P0011 as one of the most common, severe codes meaning “Intake Camshaft Timing Over Advanced Bank 1.” The repairs are the same as listed previously for P0021.
The 2002 Nissan Maxima has more recalls and complaints than any listed on the best years of the car, with nine recalls, one investigation, and 217 complaints. The 2003 Maxima does much better with recalls, having only four, but still has one investigation and over 200 complaints (203).
2004-2006 Nissan Maxima
FIXD Reliability Score: 1/10
Owner Reliability Score: 5-6/10
KBB Value: $3,271-$3,831
Fuel Economy: 21 mpg
Annual Maintenance/Repair: $917-$1,250
Safety Rating: 4.2/5
The 2004 Nissan Maxima introduced the 6th generation and is a prime example of a new generation bringing a plethora of reliability issues. We recommend avoiding the 2004-2006 Nissan Maxima due to low-reliability scores, high maintenance costs, below-average safety ratings, and many complaints.
The FIXD Reliability Score is only 1/10 for 2004-2006, while the Owner Reliability Score is 6/10 for 2004 and 5/10 for 2005 and 2006. While the reliability scores are down compared to other Maximas, the Owner Reliability Score remains higher than FIXD.
Safety ratings are barely below the overall average of all vehicles, with a 4.2 out of 5-star score. While it isn’t the worst score Maximas gets, there are still a few options with better scores on the other side of the list.
Maintenance and repair will cost an average of $1,250 for 2004, $1,000 for 2005, and $917 for 2006. Considering the cars aren’t worth much more than $3,000, these high costs are hard to justify. 83% of the 2006 Maxima owners also said they paid over $500 for a repair in 2022. These costs are also concerning considering 2004 and 2006 have an average of 125,000 miles, while 2005 has 133,000.
P0420, the catalytic converter issue, is the most common DTC for the 2005 and 2006 Maxima. 2006’s second most popular code is P0430, resulting in the assumption you’ll have to replace the catalytic converter ($1,538-$2,041) in these model years.
The 2004 Maxima adds a frequent P0300 or random multiple misfires. Replacing ignition coils ($51-$173) typically fixes this code. P0113, “Intake Air Temperature (IAT) Sensor Circuit High Input Problem,” is prevalent in 2005. This code in the Maxima usually resulted in replacing the Mass Air Flow Sensor, costing $172-$309. 2006 Maxima’s final contribution is P0340, “Camshaft Position Sensor Circuit Malfunction.” This code is severe, and you should stop driving immediately if your car triggers it. The most common fix in the Maxima is a new camshaft position sensor ($56-$159).
The 2004 Nissan Maxima has two recalls, one investigation, and 1,424 complaints. 2005 Maxima has two recalls and 946 complaints, while the 2006 Maxima has two recalls and 574 complaints. This huge leap in complaints is mainly related to the power train, which gets credit for well over 50% of those complaints.
2018 Nissan Maxima
FIXD Reliability Score: 1/10
Owner Reliability Score: 10/10
KBB Value: $21,528
Fuel Economy: 25 mpg
Annual Maintenance/Repair: $250
Safety Rating: 4.8/5
A five-year-old car is rarely on the worst side of the fence, but the 2018’s claim to fame is a low FIXD Reliability Score. Continuing its trend into a sporty family vehicle, 2018 adds a Midnight edition and Android Auto as standard equipment.
We recommend avoiding the 2018 Maxima mainly because of the low FIXD Reliability Score (1/10). The Owner Reliability Score is significantly higher, at a perfect 10/10. This is an example of owners unaware of the issues plaguing their cars. We also have less data for the 2018 Maxima than other years, and gaining a larger sample size could affect the scores.
The 2018 Maxima has a few strong points, and the 4.8 out of 5-star safety rating is one of them. This is comparable to the best family sedans on the market but less than the 2018 Honda Accord, which received a perfect 5 stars.
Another positive of this vehicle is the low repair and maintenance costs. The 2018 Maxima is the lowest reported at $250 annually.
The reason for such a low FIXD Reliability Score is the large number of DTCs triggered by this model year. The most common code for the 2018 Maxima is P015C, which means “O2 Sensor Delayed Response – Rich to Lean.” The next most common code is P014E, meaning “O2 Sensor Slow Response – Rich to Lean.” Both codes are commonly fixed by replacing an oxygen sensor, which could cost $155-$500. The top three are U1000, “Communication Area Network (CAN) Lost Communication.” This might suggest a faulty engine control module (ECM) and could cost $900-$1,000.
The 2018 Nissan Maxima has two recalls and 27 complaints.
2012 Nissan Maxima
FIXD Reliability Score: 3/10
Owner Reliability Score: 8/10
KBB Value: $7,044
Fuel Economy: 22 mpg
Annual Maintenance/Repair: $688
Safety Rating: 3.8/5
Nissan produced four years in a row (2009-2012) of the Maxima that we recommend avoiding like politics at Thanksgiving. The 2012 Nissan Maxima is separated from 2009-2011 because it received a mid-generation facelift. Nissan added a Limited Edition and improved some of the stying this year. However, the low reliability and safety scores make us rank it as one of the worst Nissan Maximas.
The FIXD Reliability Score for the 2012 Maxima is only 3/10, but the Owner Reliability Score is an impressive 8/10.
The safety rating is tied for the lowest rating across all Maximas, at only 3.8 out of 5 stars. This low safety score could affect your insurance premium and is something to consider since 40% of all Maxima owners use it as a family vehicle. The 2012 Ford Taurus (4.6) and Chevy Impala (4) scored better than the Maxima.
Repair costs for this Maxima are reasonable at only $688, but 90% of owners reported paying $500+ for a repair. 10% of the time, it was a required engine repair.
The most common DTC for the 2012 Maxima is P0101, or “Mass Air Flow (MAF) Circuit/Performance Malfunction.” The most common reason for this CEL is a bad mass airflow sensor, which could cost $220-$320 to replace. It could also be a dirty air filter ($50-$70). Worst case scenario, the notorious catalytic converter must be replaced ($1,538-$2,041).
Another common engine code is P0303, a cylinder three misfire. Replacing the ignition coils usually fixes it and costs only $51-$173. Lastly, P0456 (Evaporative emission control system leak (small)) makes another appearance and indicates a loose or faulty gas cap ($20-$60).
Boasting no recalls or complaints, the 2012 Nissan Maxima has 102 complaints.
2007 Nissan Maxima
FIXD Reliability Score: 4/10
Owner Reliability Score: 9/10
KBB Value: $3,446
Fuel Economy: 21 mpg
Annual Maintenance/Repair: $1,250
Safety Rating: 4.2/5
The 2007 Maxima was a mid-generation facelift for this sedan, which is why it is separated from the pack of 2004-2006. Nissan made interior and exterior upgrades and replaced the manual transmission option with a continuously variable transmission.
The 2007 Nissan Maxima’s FIXD Reliability Score is 4/10, while the Owner Reliability Score is 9/10.
The safety rating for the 2007 Nissan Maxima is nothing to write home about, at only 4.2 stars out of 5. However, it is almost half a star better than one of its competitors, the Ford Taurus, which scored 3.8 out of 5 in 2007.
High maintenance and repair costs aren’t a big surprise for any year of the Nissan Maxima, with the average being a steep $946. Another downside for 2007 is that its costs are over $300 higher than average, at $1,250 annually.
The most common DTC for the 2007 Maxima is P0420, while the third most common is P0430. These diagnostic trouble codes point to a bad catalytic converter, costing $1,538-$2,041. The second most common code is P0300, random multiple misfires, usually fixed by replacing ignition coils ($51-$173).
The 2007 Nissan Maxima has one recall, one investigation, and 129 complaints.
2010-2011 Nissan Maxima
FIXD Reliability Score: 3-5/10
Owner Reliability Score: 7-9/10
KBB Value: $5,145-$5,216
Fuel Economy: 22 mpg
Annual Maintenance/Repair: $536-$1,438
Safety Rating: 5/5
After a successful first year of the 7th generation, the reliability drops in the 2010-2011 Nissan Maxima. While it is usually the first year of a new generation with the most issues, 2010-2011 have more DTCs and higher ownership repair costs, making these years some of the worst Nissan Maximas.
The FIXD Reliability Score for the 2010 Maxima is 3/10 but rose to 5/10 for the 2011 Maxima. 2010 Maxima Owners believe it is reliable enough to warrant a 9/10 Owner Reliability Score before it drops to 7/10 in 2011.
While we recommend staying away from the 2010-2011 Maxima, if you already own one, you can find solace in its perfect safety rating of 5 stars.
The average maintenance and repair cost per year for Maximas is $946, and 2010 ($536) stays well below it. However, the 2011 Maxima ties for the highest annual ownership costs of $1,438. This price tag is another reason to stay away from these years completely.
The 2010 Nissan Maxima’s most common codes are P0306, P0057, and P0158. P0306 indicates a misfire in cylinder 6, and the most common repair is replacing ignition coils ($51-$173). P0057 means “H02S2 Heater Control Circuit Low (Bank 2, Sensor 2)” and is commonly cured by replacing a heated oxygen sensor ($200-$300). However, it could require a wiring repair/replacement ($100-$1,000) or a new ECM ($1,000-$1,200). These potential issues are another reason to avoid these years of the 7th generation.P0158 is “O2 Sensor Circuit High Voltage (Bank 2, Sensor 2)”. Replace your O2 sensor ($200-$300) to fix this CEL.
P0101 is the most common DTC in the 2011 Maxima, and it means “Mass Air Flow (MAF) Circuit/Performance Malfunction.” The most common reason for code P0101 is a bad mass airflow sensor, which will cost $220-$320 to fix. The 2011 Nissan Maxima also frequently triggers an oxygen sensor ($200-$300) code, P0159.
2010 Nissan Maxima improved slightly from 2009 regarding recalls and complaints, with one and 272. By the 2011 Nissan Maxima, the recall issues seem to be ironed out since it has no recalls or investigations and only 102 complaints. Most complaints are about steering, and the recalls for 2010 are because of the suspension/strut insulator cracking.
What years of the Nissan Maxima have engine and/or transmission problems?
According to the data we have collected from FIXD Scanners, the 2005-2006 Nissan Maxima’s number one DTC is caused by the catalytic converter. Our Owner Reliability data shows us that the engine is the cause of a $500+ repair 20% of the time in the 2010-2011 Maxima. The 2002-2003 Maximas trigger DTCs (P0021 and P0011) that could result in an engine replacement.
2016 and 2017 Maximas have a common P17F1 DTC, which might result in a replacement of the transmission.
According to the NHTSA, the 2004-2006 Nissan Maxima also has many complaints. Over 50% of those complaints are related to the power train, meaning there could be significant issues with the transmission.
What is considered high mileage for a Nissan Maxima?
According to our exclusive data, the Nissan Maxima’s high mileage would be over 225,000. The highest average mileage is 275,000 in both 2008 and 2013.
The lowest reported average mileage is 25,000 in 2018. The average mileage of all years of the Nissan Maxima is 139,417.
While high mileage isn’t always a determination of reliability, it is important for many other reasons. A car’s mileage inversely affects its value given by insurance or car dealers. It is also a good measure of when certain mechanical features should be replaced or maintained to prevent failure.
Certain driving conditions and an owner’s lack of devotion to maintenance could cause issues premature the expected mileage for those problems. You should inspect your Maxima regardless of the mileage to catch problems before they become a safety hazard.
What other vehicles should I consider?
If you’re shopping for a used vehicle and considering the Nissan Maxima, you may want to know what other options you should explore.
The Toyota Avalon offers a spacious interior, comfortable ride, and strong reliability. Like most Toyotas, it has a high resale value and advanced safety features.
Another alternative is the Ford Taurus. The Taurus provides a smooth and quiet ride and a comfortable cabin. With its strong performance and advanced technology, the Taurus can be a practical choice if you’re looking for a reliable and spacious sedan.
The Chevrolet Impala is also worth considering. It offers a roomy, well-designed interior that is perfect for a family vehicle. It also provides ample power, good fuel efficiency, and modern features at an affordable price.
Lastly, the Honda Accord is another great family sedan to consider. The Accord stands out with its engaging driving dynamics, excellent fuel efficiency, and spacious interior. It combines comfort and sportiness while offering advanced safety features and a reputation for reliability.
What owners of the Nissan Maxima like to use their car for:
We asked owners, “What do you use your car for?” on a survey. 40% of people use the Maxima as a family vehicle, while 34% use it for lots of driving. The next highest is luxurious driving at 11% and then sport or fast driving at 9%. 4% reported using the Maxima as an office on wheels, 1% used it for off-road driving, and 0% reported using it to tow/haul.
|Frequent Use Categories:||How Useful? (Out of 5 Stars)|
|Lots of Driving (travel/long commute)||****|
|Office on Wheels||*|
A Note About Data and Information Sources
This article has many details about Nissan Maxima reliability; here’s what we used for our assumptions and recommendations.
- FIXD Reliability Score & Data: Engine reliability information is captured via the FIXD App.
The FIXD Reliability Score is calculated using the number of DTCs per year, weighted by mileage. This is then turned into a scale of 1-10 for easy graphing.
This is an objective score.
- Owner Reliability Score & Data: This data is the result of surveying Nissan Maxima owners who use FIXD.
The Owner Reliability Score comes straight from owners of the Nissan Maxima.
This is a subjective score.
To determine the Owner Reliability Score we ask each car owner:
How reliable would you say your Nissan Maxima is?
a. Just point A to point B driving
b. A Daily Commuter
c. Good for a 100 mile road trip
d. Good for a 500 mile road trip
e. I could take a cross-country road trip, no problem
From here we translate their answers into the Owner Reliability Score:
a. = 2
b. = 4
c. = 6
d. = 8
e. = 10
Keep in mind, owners may think their car is more or less reliable than it actually is.
One potential problem is that people often buy the same make or model they are used to when they go car shopping, just a newer year.
Ford, for instance, has a number of consumer loyalty awards for the Ford F-Series, Ford Mustang, and Ford Expedition.
Car owners may be so loyal to the make or model they currently own that they would have trouble accurately comparing their cars’ reliability to others.
It’s for this reason that we ask car owners a question that is relative to mileage rather than relative to other cars.
Still, be mindful of the accuracy of these Owner Reliability Scores, people’s perceptions and unconscious blindspots can skew data.
We suggest looking at both the FIXD Reliability Score and the Owner Reliability Score for this reason.
- KBB Value: Average private-seller valuations as supplied by Kelley Blue Book (KBB), based on a Nissan Maxima with typical mileage for that respective model year.
- Fuel Economy: Mileage-per-gallon estimates according to the EPA MPG on Fueleconomy.gov
- Annual Maintenance/Repair: Upkeep expenses as reported by surveyed Nissan Maxima owners
- Safety Rating: Crash test data collected and reported by NHTSA. We average all ratings for each year to come up with a simplified, average safety score. This makes it easier to look at on a graph.
- Nissan Maxima model-specific information, edmunds.com (various dates). Retrieved July 5, 2023, from https://www.edmunds.com/
- Model-specific recall information as per the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. Retrieved July 5, 2023, from https://www.nhtsa.gov/recalls
- Nissan Maxima Generations, carbuzz.com. Retrieved July 5, 2023, from https://carbuzz.com/cars/nissan/maxima-generations
- Nissan Maxima: 40 years a flagship, nissannews.com, September 21, 2020. Retrieved July 10, 2023, from https://usa.nissannews.com/en-US/releases/release-4c87516c6645e7dae3d52e6f83012cbd-nissan-maxima-40-years-a-flagship?selectedTabId=releases
- Nissan Maxima model-specific information, usa.nissannews.com (various dates). Retrieved July 11, 2023, from https://usa.nissannews.com/en-US/releases
- Engine code information, repairpal.com (various dates). Retrieved July 11, 2023, from https://repairpal.com/obd-ii-code-chart
- Model-specific information, Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (various dates). Retrieved July 11, 2023, from https://www.iihs.org/ratings/vehicle/Nissan/maxima-4-door-sedan/
Keith Rollins is a copywriter and author that has been involved in the automotive industry for over 12 years. He has written for hotcars.com and is featured on Copywriting.org. When he’s not writing he’s spending time with his three kids, hiking, working on cars, or running. You can see his work at keithrrollins.com.