2016 Nissan Altima Transmission Problems

in Problems

A critical issue you should know before buying a used 2016 Altima

Photo of 2016 Nissan Altima Blue

The 2016 Nissan Altima is a solid family car. However, like any other car, it has issues-here is one issue you should consider before buying a 2016 Nissan Altima.

FAQ: 2016 Nissan Altima Transmission Problems

  • Is the 2016 Altima transmission reliable? No. The 2016 Nissan Altima transmission is prone to failure and has been recalled.
  • What problems am I most likely to encounter with a 2016 Nissan Altima? Major transmission problems often require a total transmission replacement.
  • How much do these problems cost to fix? The transmission itself will cost $4500-$5000. If you have transmission problems while the car is under warranty, that is okay, but keep in mind Nissan dealers are not very cooperative on this issue once the warranty expires.
  • Should you buy a 2016 Nissan Altima? We wouldn’t recommend it. The transmission is highly unreliable, and you’ll be paying out of pocket for those repairs if you do not have a warranty.

The Most Common Problem with 2016 Nissan Altimas:

Transmission Issues

The worst problem with the 2016 Nissan Altima is the transmission. It’s a CVT, so it uses belts and pulleys to drive instead of regular gears. However, these belts and pulleys wear much faster than conventional transmissions. According to a writeup of the 2013-2015 Altima transmission problems by Cars.com,

“Affected Nissan Altima vehicles may exhibit a whining or grinding noise while driving at highway speeds; the noise level may increase with vehicle speed. This condition may be due to a faulty bearing inside the constantly variable transmission, or a faulty CVT itself”.

Essentially, the CVT transmission can’t handle the temperatures and varying loads associated with even gentle, daily commuting. This transmission is a ticking time bomb waiting to happen.

Nissan Altima Gauge Cluster

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Symptoms of Faulty Transmission System

How do you know if your Nissan Altima has transmission issues? Here are signs you have to keep an eye on:

  • Hesitation when shifting: When the vehicle’s transmission hesitates to shift into gear or outright refuses, there’s a good chance you’re having transmission issues. Sometimes, you’ll notice a delay when shifting from drive to park, especially with automatic transmissions.
  • Strange noises: If you hear odd noises and sounds emitted by your vehicle, you should have it checked for various issues, including the transmission. Most people describe transmission-related noises as humming, whining, or buzzing. Additionally, manual transmissions produce even harsher sounds.
  • Fluid leakage: When your Altima leaks transmission fluid, you’re likely looking at a sizable issue. Transmission leaks may lead to overheating and expensive repairs. Look for a red, sweet-smelling fluid under your car.
  • Shaking and jerking: You have to get your Altima checked if you felt any grinding, slipping, and jerking while shifting gears. At some point, the grinding will turn into trembling and shaking as the issue worsens.
  • Check engine light: One of the many reasons your check engine light came on is transmission issues. A good rule of thumb is to have your Altima checked once you see an illuminated check engine light.


Factory recalls are issued when a vehicle fails to meet safety or quality standards. If you’re shopping for a used car, see if any factory recalls have been issued before buying.

How to Avoid Buying a Nissan Altima with Transmission Issues

Transmission issues are both expensive and unsafe. According to a 2016 Altima owner,

“The transmission would stall from taking off from a stop. It didn’t send any warning lights. The dealer stated they could not repair it because it didn’t send any warnings. I needed to drive it until it failed. Awful idea if the car were to stall in an intersection. I was the only one to drive the car, it was maintained according to service records. The transmission failure is understood to be a common problem with this car. What a waste of time and money.”

There are two serious problems here- First, the CVT does not apply the power to the wheels, which is extremely dangerous. Second, not only has Nissan failed to build a reliable transmission, but their dealers offer a costly replacement as the solution.

Thousands of owners have complained about unreliable transmissions and uncooperative dealers, like this owner:

“So I called my local Nissan Dealer and scheduled a service department check. The Nissan shop looked at my car and told me I would need a complete new CVT Transmission install at a cost of $4,654.83. The dealer told me to call 1-800-NISSAN-1 and check to see if I could get help covering the costs of my transmission repairs from Nissan USA. They all but laughed at me on the phone. My car currently has 123,972 miles on it. It only had 120,000 on it when I bought the car in February of 2019. I feel like the transmission should last longer than 123,972 miles.”

It doesn’t matter whether you own a Nissan or Ferrari, the dealer had better be there to fix it for you, and the transmission should last longer than 124,000 miles.

Cost to Fix a 2016 Nissan Altima Transmission: $3,000 - $5,000

It’s possible to rebuild CVT transmissions, but it’s not recommended, and very few shops will do it. A replacement transmission costs $3000-$5000, which is honestly more than the car is worth- here’s what one owner was quoted for a transmission replacement in his Altima.

“Took it to the dealer and asked them to diagnose the issue, and they charged me $185 for diagnosis.

The dealer did a transmission software flash and sent me back. But the same issue was happening even after the flash. Took it back again on the same day.

Dealer mentioned that the valve body and transmission needs to be replaced. Got an invoice of $4400.”

If you want a 2016 Altima, get a thorough inspection, especially on the transmission, before you buy it.

A Service Bulletin Covers the 2016 Nissan Altima Transmission

Fortunately for affected 2016 Altima owners, Nissan has issued a bulletin for 2013-2016 Altimas based on the transmission issues. They will inspect it and replace parts or the whole unit if necessary. However, the transmission is so unreliable I can’t recommend you buy one. I know this warning sounds like overkill, but there are reports of people having transmission problems with 2019 models fresh off the dealer floor. If you purchase a 2016 Altima, have the dealer check for any issues or active recalls.

This issue is severe enough that you should think twice about purchasing this car. The 2016 Nissan Altima will need too many expensive repairs for us to recommend buying a used one. If you’re looking for an Altima or something similar, the CoPilot app searches all the dealerships in your area at once & automatically notifies you when great deals become available.