2020 Nissan Armada Problems Analysis

Our data shows that forward collision avoidance, electrical system, and engine are the top problems reported for this 2020 Nissan

Updated on Author: Brian Jones | Reviewer: Sergei Lemberg

Traveling with a large family is supposed to be more enjoyable with a three-row SUV such as the 2020 Nissan Armada. After all, the company claims the newer SUVs will help you “tame the wild.” Yet, some of these vehicles have major problems that simply make drivers and occupants scared. Owners are complaining about back-up collision intervention and forward collision avoidance, and a range of engine problems.

Click on other model year to view more problems: 2017   2018  2019

Most Common Problems with the 2020 Nissan Armada

The most common complaints lodged with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) about the 2020 Nissan Armada relate to back-up collision intervention (BCI) problems. An advanced safety feature, it is designed to prevent or mitigate collisions while reversing. Strangely, though, the malfunctions described are not when people are reversing. There are also complaints that relate to another advanced safety feature, forward collision avoidance (FCA), designed to prevent or mitigate collisions while moving forward. Most of the BCI and FCA complaints involve the braking system, and several are also listed as service brake problems. Most of the electrical system complaints relate to BCI, while engine complaints are varied.

Other components and systems highlighted in complaints include the gasoline fuel system and exterior lighting.

There is also a safety recall that affects the 2020 Armada. The issue is a faulty fuel pump assembly that needs to be replaced on affected vehicles. Additionally, the automaker issued a stop-sale on affected vehicles in June 2021. However, there are several NHTSA complaints on file stating that the parts needed to do the recall repair were not available.

Forward Collision-Avoidance Problems

There are various forward collision avoidance problems including BCI (discussed later on), and automatic emergency braking problems, which we’ll discuss here.

One complaint states that the brakes lock up while driving as if the system detects something in the road. This has happened more than five times. “I have had cars stop and almost rear-end me multiple times. It happens at speeds higher than 20. I am very worried for my safety and my children’s safety in this vehicle.”

Another complaint listed as a forward collision avoidance and service brake problem lists various issues, including one that could be a BCI issue. The complaint states that often, either backing up or driving forward, if there is “something just slightly in my lane,” the brakes come on. Potentially, this can cause “huge problems.”

  1. It can cause the car to wreck.
  2. Wear the brakes down faster due to applying brakes when not needed
  3. Going down a hill in cruise control, the car is unable to keep its speed the same.
  4. When driving up to a car, the “fast brakes” won’t come on, so you risk hitting the car in front.

This, the complaint maintains, is due to a “huge programming problem.” But, the dealership can’t find any codes that would cause the problems. Owners have to recreate what made it happen the first time. “This is a 6,000 lb car. The front brakes on my Dodge Charger were twice as big.” So, why are the brakes in front and the rotor so small, the complaint asks. “This might not be a sports car, but it weighs more than an H1 Hummer.”

Back-Up Collision Intervention Problems

Generally categorized as forward collision avoidance problems, BCI issues are a major concern. However, some owners consider it to be an electrical system problem. As NHTSA complaints point out, this is “a known and frequent issue on Nissan Armadas.” It causes unsafe conditions such as random braking, failure to start, rough engine, and rough shifting. It also lights up the dashboard with the BCI malfunction light, intelligent key warning light, vehicle dynamic control indicator light, BSI light, and forward emergency braking warning light.

Yet, there are complaints that dealers can’t fix the problem and even feign surprise that this is even happening.

Examples of NHTSA Complaints

An owner who had his car repaired three times because of a BCI malfunction states that service managers at two different dealerships were both surprised by the problem. They “both stated that they have never seen this part have to be repaired so much and don’t know why it is not lasting.” He states that it’s the part that is controlled by the brake pedal that malfunctions, and “while you are driving, the car loses the ability to brake and/or control the speed.” He adds, “Nissan is aware of this issue because I had a 2019 armada that did the same thing”

Another owner states that the dealer is unable to explain why the BCI malfunction light comes on. However, they have had to replace the brake switch twice in 40k miles. “Now, at 53k miles (the) brake switch is causing issues for the third time.”

Yet another owner states that a BCI malfunction caused the brakes to seize while driving. He had received a warning previously, but on that occasion “it only caused my car not to start.” The Service Advisor said since the warning light was not actively illuminating, they were not able to pull codes and therefore not able to diagnose or repair it. Needless to say, it happened again. “While driving 50 mph and about to enter the freeway in Southern CA with 75+ speeds, the BCI malfunction light came on and my brakes immediately seized causing me to stop abruptly. I was able to move to the side of the road and call a tow truck. The vehicle was towed to Nissan who had it for 3 days and said they were unable to duplicate the issue and felt the brake switch was just out of adjustment.”

Fire Department Comes to the Rescue

In a complaint listed as an electrical system problem, an owner tells how the BCI malfunction notification and multiple other warning lights lit up on the dash at the same time. There were also issues with the low windshield washer fluid light coming on after changing the oil and checking the fluid. Later that day, the gear shift would not immediately engage to allow the driver to put the car into Drive. So, at a stop light, in a turn lane, he put the car into Park to adjust the navigation settings. Then, the car wouldn’t shift into any other gear to make the car operational. In a panic because the car was blocking traffic, he turned the car off, hoping it would start again. But it didn’t.

“Thankfully, a local fire department was coming back from a call and stopped to assist me.  They blocked traffic to my right with their fire engine, and a family member came and blocked traffic from behind me with their vehicle to keep me safer than I had been. The firemen tried everything they could to get the car to start to get the car to safety as we contacted a tow truck. With no success after another 20 minutes, they had to get a long screwdriver from the fire engine to release the shift lock to be able to put the Armada in Neutral. It took three firemen, and a family member to push the car across three lanes of traffic… So scary!”

Problems with the Engine

The engine is the heart of any vehicle. With such a large model, the engine is even more important so there is enough capability to haul passengers and cargo. But owners report all kinds of engine problems, some worse than others.

Failed Charcoal Canister Purge Valve

After the check engine warning light was illuminated, a 2020 Armada was diagnosed by the dealer as having a failed charcoal canister purge valve. It was repaired, but the failure reoccurred. The vehicle was taken to another dealer, who diagnosed a failure with the fuel pump and O-ring. It was repaired, but the failure reoccurred. So, it was taken back to the dealer, who determined that the fuel cap needed to be replaced. The failure reoccurred, with the check engine warning light illuminated, and the vehicle was taken back to the dealer. This time they said there was a failure with the battery and the Armada needed a larger battery. The vehicle was not repaired.

Unexpected Acceleration

After undergoing a recall repair, an Armada reportedly felt like it was “pulling” with the emergency brake engaged. It wasn’t constant, so the owner ignored it. Then suddenly, the opposite happened, and without warning, the vehicle unexpectedly accelerated. The complaint states that the acceleration lurched the SUV forward up a curb, up onto a berm/median, that divides north and southbound traffic, and over a boulder/huge decorative rock, approximately three feet high. Terrified, the driver managed to turn the car off. ”Even with seatbelts on, we were being tossed up and down like rag dolls.” Both occupants were injured.

When they calmed down and got out of the vehicle, “We were beyond stunned, and were attempting to figure out what had just happened to us! The undercarriage of the vehicle appeared bent, (the) hood buckled, pieces from under the car were left in (an) oncoming lane, (there were) paint cracks from force jamming (the) car into curbs, median/berm, and the boulder.”

Engine Switches Off

“On multiple occasions, when I stop at a stop sign or light and then start hitting gas, the car won’t move. (The) engine turns off almost to the point where no sounds come out of the engine. This (has) happened on multiple occasions on highways, in town — and (it) keeps happening. I took it to Nissan service and I was told everything is fine. Then it keeps happening creating huge safety risks.”

If it’s a Lemon, What Can You Do?

If you suspect that your 2020 Nissan Armada might be a lemon, call the Lemberg Law Helpline or fill out a contact form. Every year, auto manufacturers buy back, replace, or pay cash settlements to thousands of lemon owners. We’ll assess your problems to see if you might become one of them. In any case, the law makes Nissan pay the legal fees for lemon law cases, so it’s not going to cost you anything.


Brian Jones

About the Author:

Brian Jones spent more than 30 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.

See more posts from Brian Jones

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