Notes: The 2012 Nissan Maxima is a very good reliable vehicle, continuing a stretch of good model years from 2010. Beware of Maximas from 2009, and 2004-2006 though.

The 2009 Maxima has an expensive problem where the steering lock prevents the car from starting, & costs upwards of $1,000 to fix.

Nissan Maximas from 2004-2006 have a widespread transmission defect, but judging from our complaint data, Nissan fixed the transmission problem starting with the 2007 model.

For the 2012 Maxima, so far so good!


really awful
Crashes / Fires:
3 / 1
Injuries / Deaths:
3 / 0
Average Mileage:
20,936 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.

2012 Nissan Maxima seat belts / air bags problems

seat belts / air bags problem

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2012 Nissan Maxima Owner Comments

problem #19

Oct 222016


  • 70,000 miles


The airbags failed to open in a car accident. The front bumper was smashed and my daughter could have prevented injuries if the airbags had open. I have lost trust in Nissan and this crushed my faith in their products! !!!

- Charleston, SC, USA

problem #18

Jul 282016


  • 46,000 miles
The passenger airbag sensor light comes on intermittently, meaning airbag is off, when someone is sitting in the seat and the car is in motion; the light also randomly comes on when no one is sitting in the seat, then it goes off for a while. This has been happening for over a year and I keep checking for a recall. I talked to the dealer and they said a recall would be coming out in March 2016, but it's July and there is still no recall. I am astounded that I am put in a position to have an adult child of mine in the passenger seat riding with me when they would not be protected by the airbags that I trusted Nissan to provide and keep in operational condition in my car. Fortunately, I have not had an accident yet.

- Lawrenceville, GA, USA

problem #17

Jun 112016


  • 36,000 miles
The contact owns a 2012 Nissan Maxima. The contact stated that the passenger side air bag off warning light illuminated whenever a 120 lbs passenger occupied the seat. The vehicle was taken to the dealer where it was diagnosed that the passenger side seat air bag sensor was defective and needed to be replaced. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure mileage was 36,000.

- Gwynn Oak, MD, USA

problem #16

Oct 312012


  • 300 miles


There is a new recall for airbag senser misinterpreting the weight in the front passenger seat in many Nissan models. According to the dealership where I bought my car, my car is not included in the recall - but I have had the same issue. When my wife, who is around 130 lbs, sits in the seat, about half of the time the airbag light indicates that the airbag is disabled. She always sits all the way back in the seat. Speed or driving environment do not appear to have any effect on the issue. I have discussed the issue with two Nissan dealerships, and the issue still occurs. The first denied they could help because it wasnt currently happening when I had it at the shop. The second dealership recalibrated the sensor and it that brought the frequency down slightly to the current 50% I am frustrates that my car is not included in the current recall and feel like it needs to be expanded to include other model years, such as mine.

- Fort Mill, SC, USA

problem #15

Nov 012014


  • miles
Takata recall!! the "passenger airbag off" light is on with or without a person in the passenger seat while driving. The drivers side chair rocks when slowing down. The front end makes a knocking noise when pressing on the breaks.

- Bonaire, GA, USA

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problem #14

Apr 162016


  • 52,000 miles
The passenger air bag light turns off and on when someone is sitting in the passenger seat and even when no one is in the seat. And this happens while the vehicle stationary and in motion.

- Rochester, NY, USA

problem #13

Apr 012015


  • 30,000 miles


Vehicle indicates that the passenger side air bag is on when seat is vacant; off with seat is occupied. The problem does not occur every time, but is a frequent problem. The dealer claims to be unable to diagnose the problem and has deemed the vehicle safe to drive.

- San Francisco, CA, USA

problem #12

Oct 152014


  • 22,550 miles
2012 Maxima's passenger airbag off light comes on with adult passengers every 3rd or 4th trip. Went to Nissan dealership, Maxima under warranty, they said no codes were tripped and that they can't fix the problem but are aware of it. They also gave me a handout describing the difference between airbag off light and airbag malfunction light. The service manager told me he would call me if there is anything he can do for me. I called 1-800-nissan1 and filed a case, but they won't do anything because the dealership is "working on it". the dealership confirmed that if I have an adult passenger in my Maxima and the passenger airbag light off is on, the airbag will not deploy. I do not feel safe driving any passengers in my Maxima and feel Nissan is aware of the problem and trying to ignore it.

- Fort Myers, FL, USA

problem #11

Dec 032014

Maxima 6-cyl

  • 56,564 miles
Lost control of vehicle and spun around and hit the freeway center divider directly head on at 60mph without any airbags deploying.

- Mission Hills, CA, USA

problem #10

May 102014

Maxima 6-cyl

  • 15,000 miles
My wife weighs about 135 pounds.the airbag on passenger side does not work properly when she sits in the seat the airbag light goes on which indicates that the airbag is not working I have pictures to validate. So far Nissan is not trying to rectify the problem I have taken the car to 2 dealers, they say everthing is normal but the photo prove my complaint.

- Boynton Beach, FL, USA

problem #9

Oct 252013

Maxima 6-cyl

  • 20,565 miles


The passenger airbag light illuminates sporadically when there is an adult passenger sitting in the seat which informs that the airbag is deactivated. Brought car to dealer 5 times over the past 6 months. Each time I was told they could not duplicate the problem and that there were no error codes showing up. The last time they checked was Friday April 4th 2014. The dealer stated the same thing. The mechanic who tested came out to talk to us about this. My wife sat in the drivers seat and started the car. I sat in the passenger seat and the light illuminated in front of the mechanic. I asked him if I was seated properly, he agreed I was and took the vehicle while it was still running to test for codes again. He could not find any error codes but, acknowledged that there was a problem. Nissan North american told me that they spoke to the repair manager and he stated that the airbag system was operating properly and Nissan told me that there is no problem. Seems strange that Nissan is recalling 994,000 2013 and 2014 vehicles for this same issue claiming there is a software problem but will not consider updating the software in my 2012 Maxima. This is a safety issue that should be addressed by Nissan and they are refusing to do so.

- Hamden, CT, USA

problem #8

Dec 132011

Maxima 6-cyl

  • 1,000 miles
Since I bought this car, whenever my wife sit on the passenger seat, the "air bag off" light turns on. My wife is 120 lb. Being very concern that airbag would not deploy during an accident I took the car to dealership couple times in early 2012 and was told that there is no issue. I even brought my wife to the dealership and show it, and they said that my wife is not sitting correctly... such a stupid excuses. Nissan need to fix this... this is a serious safety issue ! looking at forum and checking the complain here, apparently I am not alone.. just very surprised that either Nissan or NHTSA has not take any action over it...

- Fitchburg, WI, USA

problem #7

Jul 012013


  • miles
Since I bought my car in May 2013 I have noticed several times that with or without someone in my passenger seat my air bag sensor will light up showing that the air bag is off no matter how I or the person in the seat moves it will not come on. The air bag just remains turned off. This is a huge safety concern for me I just found out how to file a complaint about it in hopes of getting it fixed. I know there are recalls on many Nissan makes and models for this but the 2012 Maxima is excluded.

- Farmerville, LA, USA

problem #6

Oct 102012

Maxima 6-cyl

  • 7,500 miles
Shortly after purchasing vehicle I noticed that passenger air bag "off" light would come on when my wife was seated - the instance did not repeat itself for several weeks and then it would consistently happen when other passengers of various weights were seated. Been that I was still under warranty I returned to the dealership where I had purchased the vehicle to have it serviced - the service manager went to the extent to asking me to have my wife come to the dealership so they can inspect her "seating position" (not a joke, that's how he wanted to diagnose the problem even after I told him that passengers of various weights and statures had presented the same problem). So dealership was not able to replicate the problem but later that day on a short trip to the supermarket with my wife the problem happened again. I returned to a different dealership and once again was given the same "we can't replicate the problem". this vehicle posses a serious safety concern to me and my family. I have been a loyal Nissan customer for 15 years and have owned multiple vehicles but this will be the last vehicle I ever purchase from this maker.

- Cedar Grove, NJ, USA

problem #5

Mar 012014

Maxima 6-cyl

  • 22,300 miles
Me and my wife were traveling northbound in our 2012 Nissan Maxima around 30mph on western avenue in Chicago when suddenly a Ford Focus 2007 that ran a stop sign traveling East bound on rosemont avenue T-boned us on driver's side. As our car was moving at a significant speed it stopped after crashing into a fire hydrant which was on the corner of the intersection. My wife was taken to a hospital in an ambulance with arm and back injuries and I also had injuries on my left arm, shoulder and lower back. My main concern is why none of the airbags deployed if the car was traveling at a speed more than 20 mph and hit a solid object(fire hydrant). Both of us were wearing seat belts. The car was declared totaled by both the insurance investigators. I am glad that this did not happened at a high speed otherwise I would resting in peace not be filing this complain. Nissan should be questioned as to what speed the airbags in Maxima deploy and why none of them including curtain and frontal deployed.

- Vernon Hills, IL, USA

problem #4

Apr 102013


  • miles
The passenger side airbag turns off when either when my husband which is 230lbs and myself 132 lb and some other passengers. Reported this to Nissan brought the car in. The say its working fine. Even when I have video that the airbag has clicked off for long periods of time. This is a major safety issue.

- Fort Worth, TX, USA

problem #3

Aug 152012

Maxima 6-cyl

  • 3,000 miles
Air bag off light illuminates when a 200 lb adult is sitting in the passenger seat. The problem is intermittent but more often then not. The dealership says they can not find a problem. This is a big safety issue if someone is involved in a frontal crash.

- Yuma, AZ, USA

problem #2

Apr 012013


  • 12,000 miles
When any adult sits in the passenger seat who is not heavy will not enable the airbag. I took it to the dealership and they said that is how it is suppose to be but this has never happened in any other car.

- Southlake, TX, USA

problem #1

Jun 202012

Maxima 6-cyl

  • 3,000 miles
Passenger side air bag intermittently (a lot!) does not have an airbag for 130+ pound person, but does have airbag for 80lb child. Have had to the dealership multiple times, Nissan reports that this is within their specifications; they have dismissed the complaint. I have further reported to Nissan Consumer Affairs complaint #11108041, but since I've been working on this for a year now, I do not feel confident in their "help".

- Mount Vernon, IL, USA

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