Nissan Reliability – Common Nissan Problems

Nissan problems

Do Nissan make reliable cars? Well, as with all brands it rather depends on the model but generally Japanese car manufacturers are some of the most reliable in the world. As well as making Nissan cars the brand also produce Infiniti and Datsun as well as having an in house tuning brand Nismo.

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Nissan was originally known as Datsun. In the early 1900s the company built trucks under the DAT name and cars under the Datsun brand. While most people couldn’t afford a car or even really get why you would need one the trucks were the main product. It wasn’t until 1931 when Datsun launched the Type 11. It was known as a Datson meaning son of DAT but the word “son” also means loss so it was changed to Datsun. In the 30s the one of the owners created a holding company called Nihon Sangyo which was abreiveted by the stock exchange to Ni-San or Nissan. The brand build a factory in Yokohama in 1934 and the first cars were built in 1935.


Interestingly in the mid 1930s Nissan actually built Austin 7s under licence in Japan. This arrangement grew and in 1952 they actually built Austins and sold them in Japan. Part of this deal meant they had use of all the patents Austin had. This was a big deal for Nissan and they went on to implement so much of these ideas and bits of tech in building the brand. This is important because at its height Nissan used the patents to design and build a highly successful 4 cylinder over head cam engine. From there they created the 6 cylinder engine that went in the famous 240Z. This car was so successful in the 60s it essentially cemented the brands name globally.

For the next 40 years Nissan built popular small and larger cars. They offered great value and in many cases great fuel economy. This was important as fuel issues started to occur in the 70s people began looking for more frugal cars. All through the 80s Nissan kept making and selling millions of cars globally. In 1999 Nissan was struggling however, and joined Renault. Things took a great step up but the company has had a few rough years in terms of profit since 2017. While certainly not going anywhere Nissan is not without its issues in corporate terms. It is worth noting that the Nissan Leaf has lead the world in EV design!

But do Nissans have common faults? Well yes, but many are related to specific models rather than across the brand. 

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Most Common Nissan Problems

The 1.5 diesel engines do require a cambelt change every 5 years or 75,000 miles in some models. This can be costly so if you are buying a Qashqai or something with this engine look to see when it was last done.

The Constant Variable Transmission gearboxes used on cars the Juke 1.6 Petrol Juke is well known for problems. Symptoms include loss of power, slipping transmission, jerking and even leaks and total failures. It seems Nissan can’t actually fix these problems to it generally means a new gearbox. There are instances where Nissan have helped pay for this but it is well worth doing some digging about any model you are looking at.

As with many diesel cars the Diesel Particulate Filter can get clogged on a number of Nissan cars. It happens because of lots of short journeys and the particles generated from combustion don’t get flushed out properly. A long journey each week can help but it is certainly worth thinking about a petrol model if you only do short runs.

This is a broad issue across a number of more recent cars. Nissan have had to run a recall 3 times to deal with leaking brake fluid. Not only does is it compromise the braking system it can also be a fire risk. Make sure any car you look at has been recalled and repaired.

One the most widely reported issues with this popular SUV is the battery running down too fast and needing replacing. Some reports suggest owners are having to replace the battery many more times than in most cars.

In cars built up to 2014 there is a risk the joints that are bolted to the car can come undone. In some circumstances they may even become detached from the car. It is important to get this checked if you have a factory fitted towbar from before 2014.

There have been some serious issues relating to the 1.2 Litre engine. Some reports claim multiple engine rebuilds to get to the bottom of the problems. They can relate to timing belt but also oil consumption and other problems. Generally the older Renault built Qashqai engines seem to have been more prone to issues so do check out the engine type before buying.

While generally a very reliable car the second generation X-Trail does have some history of engine management problems. This can lead to the engine cutting out or not starting, these are rare though.

In the first generation X-Trail the fuel tank has a small area that is prone to rust. These leads to a hole that can leak fuel during refuelling. This is obviously rather worrying but the leak stops soon after refuelling so is hard to pinpoint.

A common fault with the Note is the wipers turn on by themselves at random times. This is thought to be down to a fault in the engine management system. It has been suggested this can be reset and the fault will go. While not a huge issue, wipers starting up at the wrong time can be distracting and dangerous.

A common problem with the note gearbox is for the gears to slip and even grind. It is generally accepted the issue is with the torque converter. This is not a cheap fix and can be a real pain when driving if problems start.

Pre 2016 Navaras have been known to have some rather bad rust issues and in some cases actually snap in half. Snapping seems to be rare but the rust isn’t. The rust seems to be worst on the chassis rails. In areas with a high load these rails can fail. While unlikely to snap on normal road use you may end up buying a corroded Navara and cause huge damage even on semi rough ground.

The lower wishbones and bushes have a tendency to fail on the 2010-16 model. Listen out for knocks and odd noises coming from the suspension.

While not a fault as such the clutches on the Micra do have a habit of not lasting as long as they should. Some claim this may be down to the type of driving and driver but this is not backed up.
Check for a good solid bite point of looking at a used Micra and check service history for a recent change.

Are Nissan Reliable?

There are a lot of different common faults mentioned here but most are found in a certain period of manufacture in a certain model. It is worth noting that generally Nissan cars are reliable and because they have sold in such high numbers common faults tend to be more pronounced. That being said there are some serious issues in this list that Nissan are at fault with and should be avoided. Some of the issues seen are from the use of other manufacturers’ parts and engines, this is becoming more common as car brands share under pinnings and technology in order to share the burden of development costs.

If you are looking to buy a used Nissan make sure you use our Car Checker. This will highlight the cars history, outstanding finance, future repairs costs and so much more. If you are looking to buy a new Nissan we are launching a new service that allows you to compare the different purchase and hire options to get the best one for you.

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