2018 Nissan Maxima Problems and Top Complaints – Is Your Car A Lemon?

Vehicle speed control, electrical, braking system and structure issues among the top complaints received by the NHTSA from vehicle owners

By Brian Jones | Updated on

By Brian Jones | Updated on

The 2018 Nissan Maxima is not a new car in the automaker’s lineup, so it already has it’s dedicated following. For the newest round of cars, Nissan claims this model is the “high-tech powerhouse,” but owners are starting to see the truth. This car features a defective electrical system, dangerous service brakes, a malfunctioning vehicle speed control and poorly-created structure.

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NHTSA Complaints for the 2018 Nissan Maxima

Complaint CategoryNumber of Complaints
Unknown Or Other
6
Service Brakes
6
Electrical System
4
Forward Collision Avoidance: Automatic Emergency Braking
3
Structure:body
2
Electronic Stability Control
2
Vehicle Speed Control
2
Power Train
1
Forward Collision Avoidance: Adaptive Cruise Control
1
Engine And Engine Cooling:exhaust System:manifold/header/muffler/tail Pipe
1

Problems with the Automatic Emergency Braking System (AEB)

To look at the electrical system, one would have to rip the entire car apart. That’s because the car’s electrical system runs throughout the entire vehicle, supplying power to every aspect.

With the Maxima, customers have a lot to say, including this NHTSA review. “When driving, an error message on the front radar randomly appears. It says ‘unavailable front radar obstruction’ and affects the adaptive cruise control. This error is happening even in clear road conditions and for no reason. Other people are reporting the same error message for no reason also.”

Problems with the Electrical System

It turns out that there is an electrical system recall for the Maxima, even though it has nothing to do with the above system. NHTSA Campaign Number 19V654000 says that the back-up camera can stop displaying an image, leaving owners in danger when reversing. This recall affects well over a million vehicles, which further demonstrates the gravity of the situation. As a “high-tech powerhouse,” the Maxima fails on multiple fronts.

Problems with the Service Brakes

With the defects already illustrated, it’s helpful to know that the braking system works as it should, but that’s another sore spot with Maxima drivers.

Look at this NHTSA complaint. “I bought this car for my wife and long trip. It was rated satisfactory by Consumers Report. I received a recall from Nissan that the car could leak brake fluid and catch fire. They will not be able to fix it until Summer of 2020. In the meantime, if the ABS light comes on, I should pull it to the side of the road and call Nissan’s towing service. This makes the car unsuitable for long trips especially if my wife is driving. Calling the dealer and Nissan America got no response but that is the way things are. A woman pulling a car to the side of the road at night is not safe. Not having parts to replace a safety defect is unconscionable.”

The recall being referenced, NHTSA Campaign Number 19V807000, states that the brake fluid might leak into the ABS pump and start a fire. It affects almost 400,000 vehicles, but Nissan is having trouble making the necessary repairs. Instead, hundreds of thousands of Nissan vehicles could spontaneously burst into flames on a busy roadway at any moment. If owners wish to start a campfire, there are many other less expensive methods than by driving a defective car.

Problems with the Vehicle Speed Control

With all of the other safety concerns, it would be difficult to imagine any further, but it’s not over yet.

Here is one more safety-related concern left by a driver on the NHTSA website. “The cruise was set at 70 mph and my car approached a car ahead going 65 mph. My car’s adaptive cruise decelerated to 65 mpg. I steered into the next lane, and the space was not the required 5 car lengths, the car sensed a car closer than 5 lengths reducing my speed to less than 65 mph. My car was now slowing down below 65 mph in a lane with cars going 70 mph. I pressed on the accelerator, accelerating to 70 mph, avoiding a rear end collision.”

With this situation, Nissan chose to take the silent-route instead. There are no bulletins discussing the trouble and the automaker hopes people stop focusing on the defect. In the meantime, Maxima cars entering the passing lane regularly find themselves in danger, putting occupants at risk as well. So much for the “high-tech” qualifications, this model seems to boast about.

Problems with the Vehicle Structure

Finally, a look at the structure shows that this car isn’t built the way it should be.

One Edmunds review states, “It has had 2 separate cabin noises that the dealer is having difficulty fixing. Both occur intermittently. One of them is originating in the trunk, behind the rear seat, the other may be the driver’s side rear window or the area above the left rear wheel well. Frustrating for any new car, especially one that is not inexpensive.”

Thankfully, Nissan was kind enough to issue a statement regarding the structural issues. Service Bulletin #NTB18-032a states that a popping, tapping and ticking noise can come from the right rear parcel shelf and the right rear passenger seatback. To fix the problem, the dealers must widen the gap between the two pieces of body paneling and fill it with foam. That’s the “high-tech” solution to fixing the noise. It might be time for Nissan to hire some new engineers to fix these problems as the current team doesn’t sound much better than a bunch of kids building with LEGOs.

Your Lemon Law Legal Rights

Think you have a lemon? Sit back and let the experts work out your lemon case at no cost to you. The law makes Nissan pay legal fees. You may be able to get your lemon out of your life. Every year, auto manufacturers buy back, replace or pay cash settlements to thousands of ‘lemon’ owners like you.

Complaint Data

CategoryForward Collision Avoidance: Automatic Emergency Braking
DateOct 25, 2022
StateNY
Description
Inappropriate function of the aeb system. Filed a prior complaint with you a couple of months ago about the cruise control sensor and the aeb. Cruise was fixed, but aeb keeps going off while using cruise inappropriately. Did not get fixed. Spent a lot of time working with nissan consumer affairs and vision nissan in webster ny and problem not found. There are numerous complaints on line about the same problem, but nissan consumer affairs (nca) keeps telling me there are no other complaints about this issue. The nca told me that unless the service department has the aeb go off while they are trying it out, they won't do anything. If I want the second opinion they are recommending, it has to be out of pocket cost for me. I have had it happen and drove to the dealer without turning the vehicle off, and they didn't pull any codes, so won't address it. I have asked to speak to a manager/supervisor at nca, but they refuse to let me talk to anyone. This has happened no less than 100 times and is very dangerous.
CategoryPower Train
DateSep 11, 2022
StateFL
Description
I having problems with the transmission in the vehicle. The vehicle shakes during acceleration, you can see the gages on the dashboard shaking. When accelerating, the gears won't shift properly with a smooth flow. You can notice this in the rpm also when accelerating. I took the vehicle to the nissan of st. Augustine dealership and the diagnosis the vehicle with code p17f1 cvt judder. The dealership stated I will need a new transmission totaling 05. 09. The vehicle maintenance is up to date and it have been very well taken care of. I noticed that this issue has been reported by many other people who owns nissan maxima's. This issue needs to be fixed please.
CategoryForward Collision Avoidance: Adaptive Cruise Control, Forward Collision Avoidance: Automatic Emergency Braking
DateJul 26, 2022
StateNY
Description
I purchased this vehicle used a couple of months ago. The automatic emergency braking initiates inappropriately while using icc, it brakes without obstruction. Also, the distance sensor isn't working properly according to the dealer. When I use icc, and sometimes when I am not using it, I get an "unavailable, front radar obstruction" message. The icc stops working when this happens. It happens every single time I drive. The dealer I bought it from (not a nissan dealer) won't address it. The nissan dealer I had to pay 0 to diagnose it said it has a faulty distance sensor, which will be repaired if I pay over 00. I only have ,000 miles on this vehicle, and it was 11,000 when I bought it. This has a nissan service bulletin easily found online, a known issue to nissan which is a safety issue, but it isn't recalled and should be.
CategoryEngine And Engine Cooling:exhaust System:manifold/header/muffler/tail Pipe
DateJul 15, 2022
StateTX
Description
The contact owns a 2018 nissan maxima. The contact stated that the engine, transmission, spark plugs, battery, and brakes were previously replaced by an independent mechanic. The contact stated that while driving at an undisclosed speed, there was white smoke coming from the exhaust pipe. The vehicle was not diagnosed nor repaired by an independent mechanic or dealer. The manufacturer was not made aware of the failure. The failure mileage was approximately 90,000.
CategoryAir Bags, Structure:body
DateDec 02, 2021
StateNV
Description
The contact owned a 2018 nissan maxima. The contact stated that while driving at 35 mph, he became unconscious behind the wheel due to medication. The contact crashed into another vehicle however the air bags did not deploy causing his face to hit the steering wheel. The contact also stated that he fractured his back in 7 different locations as a result of the failure and required medical attention via ambulance. The vehicle was totaled and towed to his residence where nissan came and towed the vehicle to the dealer. A police report was filed. The occupants in the other vehicle were not injured. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The failure mileage was 39,357.
CategoryUnknown Or Other
DateNov 11, 2020
StateLA
Description
When driving to work my sunroof exploded on interstate scaring me. It was a very loud noise. This is a safety issue for all nissan owners. When bringing the vehicle in they stated that they were not responsible for the sunroof explosion. When going on line this looks like is been ongoing for awhile.
CategoryUnknown Or Other
DateOct 10, 2020
StateVA
Description
When car maxima is sitting still in idle it leaks out a clear fluid. The fluid has no color and no smell. This happens when the vehicle is stationary and in idle.
CategoryElectronic Stability Control
DateAug 03, 2020
StateMS
Description
Collision avoidance system continuously disengages
CategoryVisibility/wiper
DateMay 28, 2020
StateOH
Description
Panoramic sunroof exploded while driving on interstate highway @ 70mph on hot sunny humid day. After research it appears that this is a known issue for nissan sunroofs with numerous claims resulting in a class action lawsuit in calfornia. Nissan has responded to my complaint that they aren't liable even though the vehicle is under nissan warranty with the exclusion that glass is not covered unless a known product defect is determined. My nissan case number is [xxx]. I've turned to my insurance carrier for repairs. This is a dangerous situation. Information redacted pursuant to the freedom of information act (foia), 5 u. S. C. 552(b)(6). *tr
CategoryUnknown Or Other
DateFeb 13, 2020
StateTX
Description
Rear obstruction warning. Around view, rear view,etc monitoring system. Have had dealership look into numerous times they cant remedy without some kind of proof. There suggestion was cell phone picture of warning on dash while driving or video. I told them I wouldn't do that and asked them if that is what they would need to do to satisfy nissan for approval to fix he said yes. Really while driving I think not.
CategoryService Brakes
DateDec 26, 2019
StateSC
Description
I bought this car for may wife and long trips. It was rated satisfactory by consumers report. I received a recall from nissan that the car could leak brake fluid and catch fire. They will not be able to fix it until summer of 2020. In the mean time if the abs light comes on I should pull it to the side of the road and call nissan's towing service this makes the car unsuitable for long trips especially if my wife is driving. Calling the dealer and nissan america got no response but that is the way things are. A woman pulling a car to the side of the road at night is not safe. Not having parts to replace a safety defect is unconscionable
CategoryElectrical System
DateDec 24, 2019
StateUT
Description
When driving a error message on the front radar randomly appears. It says "unavailable front radar obstruction" and affects the adaptive cruise control. This error is happening even in clear road conditions and for no reason. Other people are reporting same error message for no reason also.
CategoryElectronic Stability Control
DateOct 28, 2019
StateNC
Description
Front radar obstruction unavailable warning comes on very often and remains for a couple minutes up to 15+minutes. When using cruise control this stops the cruise causing a slow down. This happens when in motion and very often.
CategoryElectrical System
DateSep 27, 2019
StateSC
Description
When is in motion on any type of street and also at a stop, when getting close to a vehicle or if someone cuts in front of me, or if there is a street sign directly in front of the car, this message appears very briefly "unavailable front radar obstruction" which also shows the icon of two front end of cars colliding. This happened immediately after puchasing my 2018 maxima. The dealership has not said a word about being aware of this problem when it is a known problem with certain nissan vehicles. The cost to bring it into the dealership and for any repairs at this point would be out of my pocket since the car is no longer under warranty. This faulty radar compromises the emergency braking system in the car.
CategoryForward Collision Avoidance
DateSep 19, 2019
StateMO
Description
Tl* the contact owns a 2018 nissan maxima. While driving various speeds, the collision avoidance system erroneously activated although no objects were present in front of the vehicle. The vehicle was taken to napleton nissan (10964 page ave, st. Louis, mo) where the collision avoidance sensor wa recalibrated; however, the failure continued. The manufacturer was notified of the failure and provided case number: 2170186. The failure mileage was 40,000.
CategoryElectrical System, Service Brakes, Vehicle Speed Control
DateAug 21, 2019
StateNM
Description
Show me warning of obstruction on radar for emergency brake
CategoryElectrical System, Unknown Or Other
DateAug 06, 2019
StateWA
Description
Unavailable front radar obstruction. This alert happens at random times when driving, it puts the sensor in an unavailable mode which in turns does not allow the safety function to work properly. I have done searches online and this is happening not only to maximas but to other nissan make/models. This is not a one time and done occurrence it happens often. When we purchased the car safety was one of our biggest concerns leading us to believe nissan provided safe cars, apparently, that is not the case. In my opinion, this should be a recall fix, this is a safety issue!
CategoryService Brakes
DateAug 06, 2019
StateCA
Description
Dashboard message appears intermittently while driving "unavailable front radar obstruction". The message relates to the system that automatically applies the brakes if it senses a collision danger.
CategoryService Brakes
DateJul 29, 2019
StateAL
Description
Automatic emergency braking failure while moving on a daily basis at 39,000 miles.
CategorySeat Belts
DateJul 25, 2019
StatePA
Description
The seatbelt latch on the rear passenger side was installed backwards. The seatbelt twists when latched. This makes using a child car seat unsafe.
CategoryForward Collision Avoidance: Automatic Emergency Braking
DateJul 09, 2019
StateIL
Description
Tl* the contact owns a 2018 nissan maxima. While attempting to accelerate from a stop, the vehicle braked suddenly. Hawkinson nissan (5513 miller circle dr, matteson, il 60443, 708-304-3645) and the manufacturer stated that there were no recalls. The failure occurred once. The vehicle was not diagnosed or repaired. The failure mileage was 4,098.
CategoryStructure:body
DateJun 24, 2019
StateFL
Description
I rented a nissan maxima 2018 for a road trip. Unfortunately, I didn't have the renter car insurance coverage I decided to go with my insurance. However, I was driving down the express way and I heard what sounded like a gunshot the sunroof exploded with no known explanation. I was devastated. There were glass flying all over me and my friend who was with me at the time. I feel like the car was a defective car and unsafe car! They are now making me reliable in all the damage cost to a vehicle that I had no control over. I did some research and found out that there were lawsuits from nissan known sunroof explosion. I'm not sure if theres a recall on that particular car. I need suggestions and guidance. I wish I never rented that car....
CategoryService Brakes, Unknown Or Other
DateMay 23, 2019
StateFL
Description
Warning: unavailable front radar obstruction appears on th display along with a loud beep.
CategoryService Brakes
DateApr 12, 2019
StateNY
Description
Brake system sensors are not working properly. Warring light appears on dash and reads: front radar unavailable due to obstruction.
CategoryVehicle Speed Control
DateApr 04, 2019
StateMN
Description
I was driving in the right lane on a four lane interstate highway with good driving conditions and a 70 mph speed limit. The car was an enterprise rental. Adaptive cruise control uses the accelerator and brakes to maintain a safe distance to the car ahead. It is done by sensing the distance to the car ahead at about 5 car lengths then adjusting the accelerator and brakes as needed to maintain this spacing and avoid a rear end collision. The fault is seen in changing lanes. The cruise was set at 70 mph and my car approached a car ahead going 65 mph. My car's adaptive cruise decelerated to 65 mph. I steered into the next lane, and the space was not the requisite 5 car lengths, the car sensed a car closer than 5 lengths reducing my speed to less than 65 mph. My car was now slowing down below 65 mph in a lane with cars going 70 mph. I pressed on the accelerator, accelerating to 70 mph, avoiding a rear end collision. Enterprise did not inform me of the adaptive cruise features and operation. There was no warning sticker in the car stating: "turn off cruise control when changing lanes."
CategoryUnknown Or Other
DateFeb 07, 2018
StateFL
Description
Driving a rented nissan maxima I encountered an issue I am concerned with. While changing a radio station I accidentally hit something that brought up a menu. Trying to get back to the original screen I found myself on the ongoing lane. We should not be looking at a screen when driving. It should not exist. I am very concerned with these unnecessary devices in cars that car companies push to make a sale. I find it a very dangerous distraction.

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Brian Jones

About the Author:

Brian Jones spent more than 20 years working as an ASE Certified Master Tech and Parts Specialist at multiple dealerships. Brian has become an authority in the industry, traveling across the country to consult for car dealerships and contributing his expertise as a writer for several major automotive publications. In his spare time, Brian enjoys working on pickup trucks, muscle cars, Jeeps and anything related to motorsports.

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