Notes: The 2004-2006 Nissan Maxima has widespread transmission problems. It starts with the vehicle jerking when shifting, & progresses to full-blown transmission failure.

Maxima owners report spending $3,000 to replace the transmission, typically around when the odometer hits 100,000 miles.

There's a class action lawsuit filed in late 2011, & it is still in the "discovery" stage. Apparently, these things take time ... far too much time.


really awful
Crashes / Fires:
1 / 1
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
61,119 miles

About These NHTSA Complaints:

This data is from the NHTSA — the US gov't agency tasked with vehicle safety. Complaints are spread across multiple & redundant categories, & are not organized by problem.

So how do you find out what problems are occurring? For this NHTSA complaint data, the only way is to read through the comments below. Any duplicates or errors? It's not us.

2004 Nissan Maxima engine problems

engine problem

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2004 Nissan Maxima Owner Comments (Page 1 of 3)

problem #48

Jun 012012

Maxima 6-cyl

  • miles


Shifting from reverse to drive, 1st to 2nd or 2nd to 3rd - engine revs, transmission jerks after short delay. When going on downhill bends this means that the car wants to jerk off the road, somewhat. Apparently due to improper cooling on the transmission fluid, it gets gummy, and then the solenoids clog up and get stuck. There is also a lot of wear on the gears. For the first repair, a flush and replacing the solenoids will usually give another 20K miles, but the problem doesn't get fixed unless a custom cooling system is put on the transmission lines. It's a crappy design. Instead of running the cooling lines to the engine and putting a thermostat on a switch, there should be a dedicated cooler on the transmission. Also, it's ridiculously hard to get to the transmission fluid filter, which is inside the transmission case. How hard would it have been to put an external filter down in the pan?

- Reston, VA, USA

problem #47

Mar 032014

Maxima 6-cyl

  • 181,000 miles
Drove my 2004 Nissan Maxima off the lot on 3/3/14 and noticed a jerk once I got to 30mph, the dealership told me after I purchased it that what ever problems I have I need to fix myself because I bought the car "as is".

- Anderson, SC, USA

problem #46

Oct 152010


  • 8,000 miles
I bought a brand new Nissan Maxima 2004. After driving for 5 years, it has given nothing but headache and stress. It would not accelerate or would be jerking/shaking after stepping on the accelerator. While driving in the freeway, my car would slow down and couldn't drive pass 20 mile per hour, then engine died. I had replaced catalytic converter, sensors, mufflers, brakes. And the problems still haven't resolved. As of today, I don't have a car, it is at the dealer for diagnostic.

- Rossmoor, CA, USA

problem #45

Oct 112011


  • 98,104 miles


Transmission slips and hesitates as you place in gear. Once you place it in gear from drive to park to reverse it jerks very hard which places pressure on the motor mounts causing them to have problems. All of the Nissan Maxima's have a serious manufactured flaw with there transmission. This is a serious flaw and should have been recalled by Nissan, all of the complaints made are all stating the same thing. This is clearly a manufacture defect. This defect occurs even if you are sitting still with your feet on the brakes and attempt to shift from park to drive to reverse the vehicle jerks so hard it moves the vehicle even though your feet is on the brakes. This is a serious issue. Once the engine warms up the transmission begins to slip even as the vehicle approach a stop light or stop sign the car down shifts itself and jerk as it shifts.

- Punta Gorda , FL, USA

problem #44

Dec 082008


  • 65,518 miles
Tranmission skipped @ 65,518 wich I was told was out of the powertrain warranty paid $4,000 on 12/08/08 for what I thought was a new tranmission. Found out later Nissan uses re-built trani. Right after the initional trani was put in I continued to have the same problem...took it a few times back but all I got was the run around...they stated it might be the motor mount, that got fixed still the problem was there. The car went thru diagnostic reading from 2009 thru 2012 but since the engine light was not on it would not give any diagnosis codes.... until April of this year my transmission skipped again @ approx. $113,500 while being tested by a Nissan mechanic...updated 07/13/12

- Baldwin Park , CA, USA

problem #43

Oct 192011

Maxima 6-cyl

  • 115,000 miles
I own a 2004 Nissan Maxima and when I bought it I thought I was buying a great car that was less than 6 months ago although I still like the car it is starting to make this ticking noise the ticking noise is coming from the timing chain and is doing that because of a piece of plastic has gotten loose on the timing chain guides so now that this piece of plastic is loose my timing chain could possibly snap and damage my entire motor so I decide ok ill just fix it but oh no its 1500 dollars to fix because of all the labor that is needed to get my car repaired because of the labor involved in getting to the timing chain so my complaint is that why do you have a stupid piece of plastic that is now failing for almost all vq 35 engines it just doesn't make any sense why as a company you are so cheap that you cant design something more durable than a piece of plastic to hold together the engine of my car that when it first came out in 2004 was going for like 26000 dollars how cheap can you get unbelievable you would think I would not have to worry about my car dying because of this one stupid piece of plastic that is basically defective and was not meant to hold together a timing chain what a crap company now im on the hook for 3 years and I have to pray that my chain doesn't snap because I cant afford to pay 1500 dollars to fix my car because of a stupid piece of plastic.

- Fridley, MN, USA

problem #42

Mar 042012

Maxima 6-cyl

  • miles


I bought my car new in July of 2003 with less than 14 miles on it. I have maintained my car myself (when I can) since a Napa repair shop put the wrong transmission fluid in it and completely ruined my tranny. I change my oil regularly and keep up to date with other scheduled maintenance. I now have approximately 144K miles on my car and I have a obd code of P0420. In addition to the check engine light, my brake light stays on even after releasing the emergency brake. One thing I have notice is that I have to add oil every so often because it goes low. I thought it was because the car is approaching 9 years, but now with the obd code, I know that there is an issue with one or both of the front catalytic converters. Please correct these issues before someone gets injured.

- Temecula, CA, USA

problem #41

Feb 032011

Maxima 6-cyl

  • miles
I bought a used 2004 Nissan Maxima SE and I'm having problems the jerking, thrusting forward and the bad down shifting. I took the car to the Nissan dealership act like they never heard of a problem before and they said the transmission needed a flush ($200), so I did, it continued kicking. I took it back to Nissan they drove it and told me it need motor mounts ($2,000), I got the motor mounts replaced at local auto shop. They have no problem wanting me to spending money on diagnosis the problem, when they know what the problem is. The transmission is a recall issue they don't want to make public. I'm very disappointed in Nissan. I've had 2 Altima, I have a 1997 max and never had major issues (I drive that more than the new car) and I have a 2004 armada, I would not recommend them to anyone any more. They pride themselves in not selling lemons...well I got one! I don't understand how I can have 1997 max and not have transmission problems and new model car 2004 and having all these issues. I cannot afford a $3,800 transmission and a new set of $500 motor mounts.....another problem I've had with this car is the A/C keeps going out...there is no leaks in the lines but there is something wrong with the A/C pump so I was told by a local repair shop.

- St Ptersburg, FL, USA

problem #40

Feb 262010

Maxima 6-cyl

  • miles
I am a Nissan Maxima lover!! I have had a 95 max, a 00 max, and now a 04 max. I had no major problems what so ever with my Maximas except for this 04. This car is literally driving me crazy! first the car started jerking. Then my windows started sticking my driver and passenger window will go down then sometimes not come back up.then later it started making this embarrassing rattling noise. Everytime I got an oil change it would stop for a while. I needed a dependable car which is why I got another Nissan but about two weeks ago I was grocery shopping with my kids and as I turned on the highway headed home the whole car shut down in the middle of traffic. How dangerous is that. I managed to coast to a gas station and had to call aaa to tow it home now I am stuck with a car that I cannot drive and have to continue to make car payments on. Ive been told it was a mixture of my transmission and timing chain.there have been several reports on this site with transmission and timing chain problems. Unless Nissan does something about this my next car will be a Ford Fusion! love my Maxima but cannot endanger my kids with an undependable vehicle. With all that business Nissan gets what harm will it cause for you to help your customers fix cars that you caused the problem to with this faulty engine and transmission problems. It would keep customers like me coming back to Nissan. I do like the new models but I dont want to go through this problem with a newer car. Nissan what are you going to do"???"

- Raleigh, NC, USA

problem #39

Nov 152011

Maxima 6-cyl

  • miles
I took possession of this vehicle around the 14th of November and this vehicle has been returned back to the dealership 6 times within a two week period. I think this could possible be a flood car there is a smell of mildew and the visor are water damaged. To this day the vehicle has not been fixed and it is the 26th day of December 2011. The transmission seems to be slipping and I am afraid to enter traffic as the car stalls and then sticks upon accelerating. The check engine light as well as the brake and ABS lights are constantly on when the dealership stated that they had turned them off. I can smell fumes upon starting and driving this car. I am parent and I don't like to give my child or any other person a ride because of the smells. The tires were bald on the car and twice when it rained I almost has 2 major collisions when the vehicle veered into the other lane driving 45 in a 65 mph zone. I am filing a complaint because I don't think this car is a good car. I have contacted the finance company and they are stating this is out of there hands. I have taken pictures of the different item that seems to be water damaged. I also will be filing a complaint with the consumer law group regarding this matter.

- Manchester, CT, USA

problem #38

Jun 012010

Maxima 6-cyl

  • 72,000 miles


When the problem initially started you could hear a very loud rattling noise. Nissan certified dealer could not figure out the problem. Last month they gave me a list which was half printed and half written meaning that the most costly, expensive, and important item were not put in their database system. The certified mechanic basically told me to get rid of the car ( car needs a new transmission due to broken tensioner, main chain). In order for them just to confirm that-that's the problem, it would apps. Take 8 labor hours to take the motor apart. The car feels like it is literally going to fall apart.

- Berwyn, IL, USA

problem #37

Oct 182011


  • 95,000 miles
The contact owns a 20004 Nissan Maxima. While at an independent mechanic for routine maintenance the contact was made aware of holes due to corrosion on the front driver and passenger side floor boards. The vehicle was taken to the dealer for diagnostic testing. The technicians stated the floor board had to be replaced. There was also a buzzing noise in the front end of the vehicle. The vehicle was taken to an independent mechanic who stated the timing chain had to be replaced. The timing chain was replaced; however, the floor board was not repaired. The approximate failure mileage was 95,000.

- Braintree, MA, USA

problem #36

Jul 032009

Maxima 6-cyl

  • 81,032 miles
The transmission in my car is slipping. When I am trying to take off many times the acceleration is decreased dramatically and puts my family in danger of having a terrible accident. The gears are hard to switch and it makes a loud noise when this happens. Sometimes while driving it starts jerking as if it will cut off. The dealer claims to not have many issues with this problem but my online research shows me that the transmission is the source of most of the problems on this make and model car.

- Memphis, TN, USA

problem #35

Nov 062011

Maxima 6-cyl

  • 60,082 miles
Car began making a chattering sound and I had oil checked immediately. Full, but it was suggested to me at gas station that I might have a sticking valve. I had an appointment for an oil change on Monday, November 7th but on Sunday, 11/6/11 as I was going up a slight hill chattering got louder and engine stopped. I'm told the car "jumped timing" due to the failure of the tensioner which holds the timing chain. It's likely the heads were damaged in the process but I have not yet had the engine pulled apart. From on line research this seems to be a common problem with the Maxima models 2004-08. Called Nissan but they insist that I have it towed to dealership and pay a large sum of money to have it diagnosed and then they "might" pay for the parts (job is labor intensive!) for their "flagship" engine, it was probably not a good idea to use a plastic part in it! I will be contacting Nissan again soon. Thank you.

- Hopedale, MA, USA

problem #34

Jan 012011


  • 100,000 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Nissan Maxima. The contact stated that the vehicle would violently jerk. The dealer advised the contact to have the motor mounts replaced and performed the repairs however, the vehicle continued to jerk after repairs. The manufacturer was not notified of the failure nor was the vehicle repaired. The current mileage was 120,000 and the approximate failure mileage was 100,000. The VIN was unavailable.

- Springfield, OH, USA

problem #33

Sep 122010


  • 85,000 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Nissan Maxima. The contact stated that the vehicle would lunge forward abnormally. In addition, when driving at low speeds, the vehicle would hesitate to accelerate and there was an increase of engine rpms to 3000. The vehicle would also jerk violently when shifting into the next gear. The check engine warning light was illuminated. A local mechanic diagnosed that the transmission and the timing belt would need to be replaced. The manufacturer was not contacted. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure mileage was 85,000 and the current mileage was 117,000.

- Augusta, GA, USA

problem #32

Jun 082011


  • 119,000 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Nissan Maxima. The contact stated that the transmission would slip from first to second gear and the vehicle would also stall on the road. The contact also stated that the catalytic converter was overheating, causing the engine coils to misfire. The dealer diagnosed that the there was a defect in the computer. The manufacturer was not notified. The vehicle was in the process of being repaired. The failure mileage was 119,000 and the current mileage was 120,000.

- Harrison, NJ, USA

problem #31

Mar 072009


  • 100,000 miles
Timing chain whine. Altima, quest, Maxima, and other Nissan vehicles with the vq35de engine.

- Caldwell, NJ, USA

problem #30

Jun 082011


  • 60,000 miles
For the 4th time in 35,000 miles the car began to misfire, run rough and lose power. Since we have experienced this before we quickly pulled over and had it towed to a mechanic. The mechanic told us that the same parts failed that failed the last three times. These consist of ignition coils (plural). Changing these fixed the problem for 5 weeks where the problem happened again although more catastrophic. Grounding cables ($2250, six coils ($1,100), and then whatever else (ECM is expected and maybe cylinder sensors). Doing internet research has resulted that this is a known problem for the 2004 line that Nissan has refused to compensate owners for.

- Wilmington, MA, USA

problem #29

Aug 012010


  • 87,000 miles
Car jerks when going into 1st, 2nd or 3rd and has gotten stuck in 3rd gear when driving, had to put in manual gears in order to stop the vehicle. Also when putting in reverse car jerks and then when you go into drive the vehicle jerks again. A/C also went out about 6 months after owning the car, which was bought in 2009. Vehicle has been checked out by dealership and they do not know what the main problem is with the car, and said they would fix 2 things to see if it fixes the problem, only if I pay them about $3000 to $3500. Dealer does not know the root of the problem, however they want to charge for "what if's". car also jerks when you break or slow down without using break system. I am afraid for my life and the life of my family.

- Somersworth, NH, USA

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