Nissan is a very popular brand with a broad range of models from economy cars, performance, trucks, SUV’s, and everything in-between. Most Nissan models such as the Altima, Murano, Versa, Sentra, and Rogue to name a few have a strong competitive edge in performance, technology, and affordability. Exceptional lease & finance offers from Nissan and the help of most dealerships being high volume allow for a significant amount of New Car sales and a short-term ownership or lease.
While Nissan Cars, Trucks, and SUV’s are common on the road, we’ve noticed lately that more New, late-model Nissans are on the road than some previous-gen Nissans. When compared to other brands like Chevrolet, BMW, Toyota, and Hyundai models from 2006-2010 era are still common on the road and in good condition.
When shopping for a Used Nissan, the prices are pretty competitive as well. Some late-, entry-level, low-mileage models have been priced lower than $10,000 which sounds like a deal too good to be true. However, when we came across Nissans from model years 2006-2011, many lower priced models were in very poor condition.
Why we don’t recommend a Used Nissan
When we compared other makes from 2006-2011 on the, a significant amount Nissan Models of similar production years were in very poor condition both cosmetically and mechanically whether on the road or just traded in. Partially pointing to previous owners not taking proper care of their Nissan during ownership, many used car dealers have reported doing some sort of reconditioning before being sold to a consumer.
Models like the Altima, Sentra, Versa, Versa Note, Murano, Rogue, and Frontier have shown to have very poor reliability. 4-Cylinder & V6 Engines themselves have shown to be strong, however many transmission failures have been reported on even late-models when equipped with the CVT transmission. Automatic transmissions on older models from 2001-2005 have also shown somewhat spotty reliability, however manual transmissions and have reported to be solid. Traditional automatic transmissions paired with a 3.5L V6, 3.7L V6, or 5.6L V8 have also shown average reliability.
The overall build quality of the models listed above is also known to be poor. The exterior paint has shown to be of poor quality with common pre-mature fading of the clear coat and peeling of the actual paint being common and headlights fading quickly. Inside, leather tends to dry rot and rip at the seams, with easily breakable plastics and peeling of some interior finishes are the most common. Some of this is preventable if the vehicle frequently garaged or covered.
In summary, when considering a used Nissan, there is a reason for the cheap prices and rare sightings of somewhat older models. Previous owners showing a poor history of care, poor mechanical reliability, and poor cosmetic quality make SOME of these Nissans fall on to our Not recommended list. But Not All.
The Good Nissan Models
Models such as the Maxima for certain model years, 350/370Z, Armada, Xterra, Titan Pickup, and Godzilla, the GT-R have shown to be more reliable and durable with better owner history. However, we still advise consumers to proceed with caution. With the Maxima, models from 2009-2015 have shown to be kept in good condition, and with good reliability. While models from the 2004-2008 generation have shown to have severe mechanical issues and poor build quality. Model years 2003 and older have also notably been reliable when equipped with a manual transmission.
The 350Z and 370Z are defined as an enthusiast’s car, few problems have been reported with both models when equipped with either transmission. Most owners of Z cars have taken exceptional care of their cars during ownership with even greater care shown to special editions. 350Z models shown some minor wear and tear on the interior, and paint fading depending on the care given during ownership. Modifications are also common on both 350 and 370Z models, which can cause mechanical failures if modifications aren’t fitted properly.
The GT-R aka Godzilla is also an enthusiast’s car that receives even more special treatment. Many owners of the GT-R take meticulous care of their car with regular service and proper modifications. Many GT-R models on the market are in good condition. Like the 350 and 370Z, if modifications are not fitted properly you can be risk to not just engine and transmission failures but expensive failures.
As for the Armada and Titan. They have also shown to have good reliability as many have been recently traded in with high miles and are running well. However, owner history and cosmetic condition can vary with these 3 models. For the Titan, most owners have maintained their Titan’s mechanically. Being a full-size pickup, they do take a beating resulting in more than half of used Titans having some lack of care cosmetically with some previous owners trading in their Titan pickups without repairing body damage. For the Armada, being primarily used a family car, most have shown to be reliable with proper care from their previous owners and commonly being garaged leaving a clean exterior paint finish. Inside, some have been prone to moderate wear and tear (possibly from little ones) and the dry leather as we’ve reported before. The same can be said for the Armada’s luxury sibling the Infiniti QX56.
What About Infiniti?
Infiniti is the luxury division of Nissan, so you’re probably concerned about Infiniti as well since they’re also popular cars. In short with Infiniti you can expect better overall quality and more reliability with Infiniti but it does come with a higher price to mix in. Most Infiniti’s are equipped with Nissan’s VQ35 (3.5L) or VQ37 (3.7L) V6 engine which have proven to be durable, transmissions are Standard Automatic or 6-Speed manual, both with minimal problems reported. A CVT transmission is not available for Infiniti’s. Previous owners have shown more care towards their Infiniti, and better care with the G37 IPL line. Infiniti interiors do tend to show moderate wear over time, with the common rotting leather issue. The same can be said for V8 equipped models such as the QX56, FX45, M45, M56 with slightly more care shown towards them.
For the G-Series from 2003-2006 both sedan and coupes, condition and previous care varies depending on the owner. Coupes & Sedans equipped with a Manual transmission have shown more previous care and proper maintenance while automatic transmission models previous care is slightly less. Headlight fading is common. For 2007-2013, previous owners have shown greater care, with garage history, and are in better condition.
If you’re going to buy a entry-level model Nissan because of it’s affordability or what ever appeals, we recommend you purchase New. If you’re credit is good, it is likely you will get a good lease or loan term that would have comparable payments to buying used. Purchasing New, you have peace of mind with a warranty if any of the common problems we mentioned above occurs. If you must purchase used, only purchase the good models we listed above. Otherwise, consider another make or Infiniti.