2020 Nissan Kicks Problems and Top Complaints – Is Your Car A Lemon?

Forward collision avoidance, fuel system, brake, electrical system, airbag, and engine issues are among the top complaints received by the NHTSA from vehicle owners

Updated on Author: Brian Jones

It’s becoming more popular to drive compact vehicles like the 2020 Nissan Kicks. The automaker hopes to attract more buyers with the CTA, ”Flex your technology in a new 2020 Nissan Kicks!.” However, an ongoing avalanche of complaints to the NHTSA and other platforms indicates dissatisfaction with the technology offered. Complaints extend across all the major systems and components of this subcompact SUV. 

Click on other model year to view more problems: 2019   2021   2022   2023

Most Common Problems with the 2020 Nissan Kicks

In terms of volume, the most common problems highlighted by complaints lodged with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) about the 2020 Nissan Kicks relate to forward collision avoidance (36%). Common issues involve the automatic braking system and various sensors that activate unnecessarily. However, a large number of complaints listed as being forward collision problems are also listed under other problematic systems and components. For example, all but one of the brake complaints are regarded as forward collision issues, as are almost all of the electrical system problems.

There are a substantial number of engine-related complaints (21%), as well as electrical and fuel/propulsion system (17%), and powertrain and service brake (nearly 13%) complaints. But again, there is a major overlap. For instance, most of the fuel/propulsion system complaints are also regarded as engine problems. Another component worth singling out is the airbags (nearly 11%). However, we are going to focus on major problems rather than the components themselves. These include automatic braking system malfunctions, faulty sensors, engines that shut down, transmissions that fail, and airbags that don’t deploy, causing injuries to Kicks’ occupants.

In addition to the many complaints lodged with the NHTSA, you can read dozens more at the bottom of this page sent into Lemberg Law by Kicks owners.

2020 Nissan Kicks Complaint Summary

Complaint CategoryNumber of Complaints
Forward Collision Avoidance: Warnings
Electrical System
Fuel/propulsion System
Forward Collision Avoidance: Automatic Emergency Braking
Power Train
Unknown Or Other
Service Brakes
Air Bags
Lane Departure: Assist

Sensor Problems

Issues with sensors that keep activating are extremely common. Several owners who identify this problem are convinced their vehicles are lemons.

An owner from California took his 2020 Nissan Kicks in for a service after the sonar alerts had activated for no reason at least nine times. As Nissan explains, “Sonar sensors installed in the rear bumper are used to detect objects and obstacles behind the vehicle and their distance from the vehicle’s position. If the system judges there is a risk of collision, it warns the driver and automatically applies braking force.”

According to the complaint dated February 3, 2022, “The AEB would alert and chime for no reason as well as the forward collision warning for no reason. The car also chimed consistently when backing up and stalled when nothing was behind me or in the vicinity for this alert to go on. This has been a constant issue with this car. I purchased it brand new on Feb 29, 2020, and I believe they sold me a LEMON.” When the Nissan dealership ran diagnostics, they did find issues. The service advisor said “There are over 12k red Nissan Kicks with the same issue.” The owner was also told it was “under Engineering review as there is nothing available yet to fix it.”

Another owner from California also believes he was sold a lemon. After experiencing numerous electrical issues and problems with the automatic electrical braking (AEB) system, Nissan “ran diagnostics and found the issues with sonar and other possibilities. They replaced the system and while it ran ok for a while, it is currently experiencing the same electrical issues.”

Automatic Braking System Malfunctions

An owner from Maryland who had AEB problems states, “I am very scared that I may have purchased a lemon and they are not telling me.” This followed an incident while driving on the highway when the automatic brake activated a week after he’d bought the SUV. There was nothing close to him when it happened, but the dealer maintained “This car is usually very sensitive.”

An owner from Florida experienced forward collision avoidance warnings for three days before the AEB malfunctioned. The driver was pulling forward from a green light when the car suddenly braked, stopping the car. “I was the first car from the light so there was no car ahead of me and no reason for the car to brake and stop. The car behind reacted and went around me avoiding a rear-end collision — lucky for us. I cautiously continued home and parked and did not drive the car except to the dealer for them to check. Their initial response was bad battery and I’m still waiting. I am afraid to drive this car.”

It’s a similar story every time. An owner from Texas states, “I have had several issues with my check engine light popping on and off. I have also had my car brake by itself while going 65/70 MPH on the interstate twice almost causing two rear-end collisions… the lights go haywire, (and) the car does not want to accelerate.”

While driving at between 50 and 70 mph, the forward collision warning and emergency lights engage, says another owner. “The car will come to a stop. This has happened while on the highway and crashes were barely avoided. It injured my back with the sudden stop.”

Transmission Failure Problems

One angry owner who has had the transmission replaced twice states that “this transmission is going bad” as well. “It’s slipping, shuddering, and hesitating when you hit the gas. This car is a death trap waiting to happen. Nissan knows they put junk transmissions in these cars but still sells them. Nissan is going to end up hurting/killing a lot of innocent lives. It’s not safe to be driving this car around, half the time the car doesn’t want to go when you hit the gas.”

An owner from Puerto Rico had the transmission replaced before the car had done 15,000 miles. After two weeks in the shop with no loaner supplied, he got the car back. Less than a month later, he took it back to the dealer because of a check engine warning. “The dealership informed (me) it is a known issue.”

Not all vehicles have the transmission replaced as the Arizona owner of a fleet vehicle reveals. The vehicle had 38,477 miles on the clock when he lodged the complaint. This states that the vehicle had been “sent in for service several times over the past year for issues with transmission and forward collision light warning issues.”

Airbag Problems

The airbags are one of the most important safety components in any vehicle. When they don’t deploy, the risk of injury increases phenomenally.

An owner from Ohio was concussed, cut, and bruised when the airbags didn’t deploy during a crash. He had stopped at a traffic signal when a truck and snow plow crashed into the passenger rear driver-side door, and then into the driver’s side door. The corner of the plow tore a gash through the passenger door, and both the rear passenger and driver’s door glass was shattered. The driver’s door was crushed but had not been penetrated by the corner of the plow. The driver had “cuts and bruises on his left arm, with a partial tear of the rotator cuff of his left shoulder.” He was also concussed and was transported by ambulance to an ER. The police were on the scene and filed a report. The vehicle was towed to an impound lot.

Another owner from Ohio experienced a similar crash but fortunately wasn’t injured. An old Jeep crashed into the Kicks and “both driver side doors caved in, (the) windows shattered, (but the) airbags didn’t deploy.”

An owner from Illinois states that a Nissan Rogue hit his Nissan Kicks and “took off the entire front of the car.” Once again, the airbags didn’t deploy.

An owner from California took his Kicks to the dealer because the front driver’s side airbag warning light was illuminating and the forward collision avoidance feature kept activating. Not only were the parts required for a repair not available, but he was told that “the fee for the front driver’s side airbag replacement would be paid out of pocket.” Later, the owner “discovered that the dealer had activated the front driver’s air bag sensor without permission.”

Engine Problems

Arguably, the engine is the most important part of any vehicle. If this component is defective, there’s no way to enjoy the drive. Many of the engine problems in NHTSA complaints relate to cars shutting down or stalling. Even though the engine control module (ECM) isn’t mentioned often, indications from technical service bulletins (TSBs) are that the ECM is an issue.

Since March 31, 2020, there have been five manufacturer communications to dealers from Nissan relating to Kicks engines that stop running. These, by law, must be supplied to the NHTSA for the record. They involve the ECM that dealers are instructed to recalibrate or reprogram if the engine stopped running when coming to a stop — and the malfunction indicator light (MIL) wasn’t on.

A couple of other TSBs refer to the MIL being on. This is a different issue that also appears to affect the ECM. According to Nissan, “When the ignition is switched ON, the orange Malfunction Indicator light illuminates. This means that the system is operational. If the orange Malfunction Indicator light comes on while the engine is running, it may indicate an engine control system malfunction or misfire.”

Examples of NHTSA Complaints

An owner from Wyoming was traveling in heavy traffic when the Kicks “went into limp mode and all front crash sensors were illuminated.” After being stuck on a busy interstate, he took the vehicle to the dealer and was told it was the ECM, which they replaced under warranty. Five days later, “it did it again in heavy traffic. The first thing it does is cut out then 30 sec later back in limp mode All the same sensors everything. Took the car back now they say the alternator is starting to fail. And this part is not covered under warranty.” Unable to use the Kicks, this owner was forced to “voluntarily surrender the vehicle back to the bank, I have been unable to trade it in because I owe too much on it. And they don’t want to deal with the issues it’s been having.”

The car will shut off on its own when sitting at a red light, states an owner from Illinois. After getting a message showing the word “malfunction,” and pressing the start button several times, it restarts. After this happened four times in two weeks, the owner took the Kicks to a dealer. They couldn’t duplicate the problem!

An owner from Maryland states that the vehicle keeps shutting off while driving, even on major highways. The vent control valve was stuck open and had to be replaced. There was also corrosion on a connector to the wiring harness that had to be replaced. “My daughter could have been killed on the highway.” To make matters worse, 10 miles after the vehicle had been serviced, it shut down again.

Your Lemon Law Legal Rights

Several owners of the 2020 Nissan Kicks have reported to the NHTSA in complaints that they are convinced they have bought a lemon. If you feel the same way you are welcome to contact Lemberg Lew for a free appraisal of your problems. Every year, auto manufacturers buy back, replace, or pay cash settlements to thousands of lemon owners. You could be one of them. All you have to do is fill out a contact form or call us on the Helpline.


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
  • Dar

    Bought 2020 kicks in Aug. 0f 2020. It has been nothing but trouble. All with the electrical sensors. I have read lots of complaints but Nissan has not recalled anything. If anyone is thinking about buying a Nissan don’t and save yourself the headache.

  • Mecca M

    Got Nissan Kicks SR. In 2021 car stalls malfunction front and rear car brake by itself. And engine came on this morning. The car just reached 64000 I got it at 13000. Sad I have taken this car to Nissan dealership only. I keep up on the maintenance on my car. This I don’t understand just changed from a Nissan Sentara 2014 that had bad problems

  • Kimberly

    I bought my 2020 kicks with 11 miles a few weeks after I had it brake light sensor came on. It took a month to get the part and fix. I don’t even have 36000 miles on it. Now the front windows won’t go up or down. I like this car 1st brand new car I ever bought and now am starting to regret it

  • Ana

    Bought my Kicks April 2023,
    As soon as I got it, the radio started shutting off about 6-8 times per trip, Brought it in and they said that nothing was wrong and everything was working fine. Last year my car out of nowhere turned off and wouldn’t turn back on, we would jump start and hitting the mile mark it would shut off. Got my battery replaced under warranty. My car recently started having issues starting, where I need to press the button multiple times in order for it to start for like approx. 5 mins. Today I was struggling for more than 10 minutes at home and 10 minutes after dropping my son off at school. On Friday I put gas, and what would normally gives me half a tank got me 2 miles. The gas lines went up but the numbers didn’t. so now I have “half” a tank but only 40 miles..
    I only have put 33,000 miles on it.
    Called today to where I purchased my car, and they said that this is not covered by the warranty.
    Now I need to pay a diagnostic fee per concern plus whatever amount to get it fixed.

  • Mayona

    I purchased a new 2023 Kicks SV on February 21, 2023. March 2023 two warning messages appeared on the dashboard sporadically with only 600 miles. Warning Malfunction See Owner’s Manual (Rear Automatic Brake Symbol) and Warning Parking Sensor Error See Owner’s Manual. April, messages appeared each time I start my vehicle and remain on while driving. The messages are within a flashing yellow rectangle on the dashboard. After pressing ok on each message, the flashing rectangle reduces to two symbols on the dashboard. Two additional symbols appear sporadically, Parking Sensor Off and Check Rear Seat for All Articles. Sales manager phoned my home in April. I informed him of error messages, and he said, bring it in, it just needs to be reset. Purchasing dealership service appointments in April and June, no repair. Service manager only mentioned diagnostic testing and refused to answer questions. I tried another Nissan location in May and diagnostic test revealed two codes relating to sonar system, but no repair completed. Another person purchased identical vehicle from same dealership. She began having problems with sensors and horn. Purchasing dealership have not repaired her vehicle either. May, I canceled 2 extended warranties which I didn’t want. Finance manager submitted one warranty to lien holder in June. Lien holder have not received second warranty. Finance manager refused to cancel third warranty, which he included in the cost of my vehicle as an accessory for product that wasn’t applied to my vehicle. I believe cancellation of warranties have a direct effect on their lack of interest in resolving the problems with my vehicle which obviously was present before I purchased it. I take very good care of my vehicle. I am sure Nissan is aware of the various problems and know what is causing them. Nissan scan tool read codes and vehicle history. Nissan employees doesn’t appear to realize Nissan Tech Bulletins are available for review.

  • Joe B

    My 2020 Kicks and works fine but the tires keep on warning about refilling with air, replace tires.

  • James B

    My 2020 Nissan kicks stalls front end collision lights ECM REPPLACED -another module replaced and a calibration done on front end collision radar system still light is on. Contacting Consumers Affairs to see what is causing this as per dealership. Been without vehicle about 1 month or more spend nearly 11800.00 already still not fixed. Can anyone say lemon?

  • Amanda

    The only issue I have with my 2020 kicks is the Pcv valve in cold winters we live in Canada cars should be able to handle winters here. Condensation builds up and the pressure is to much to handle my dip stick pops out and gets oil all over my engine. I had to get a new alternator and valve Thank God it’s still under warranty. Apparently a newer valve is coming and supposed to fix the problem let’s hope so cause I won’t be able to get this car fixed if it keeps happening.

  • Theresa H

    I bought a 2020 Nissan Kicks at Crown Nissan in Greensboro, North Carolina in October 2020 and in less than a year all the trim work started fading on the car. I reported it to Crown Nissan multiple times and when I realized they weren’t doing anything I contacted Nissan Consumer Affairs. I have a total of 8 case numbers and contact people I have talked to and here it is a year and a half later and my car is still not fixed. I was contacted by Nissan Consumer Affairs a couple months ago and they said they would fix it but now they won’t call and give the dealership 10 minutes from me permission to order the parts they need. I am so tired and fed up with ALL the lies I have been told since the day I bought the car and I am on the verge of trading it but I guess I will have to start all over paying again after I have already paid almost 3 years. I make payments every month to them but it makes me sick they don’t honor what they promised me. My advice is to anyone, Don’t Ever Go To Nissan to purchase a vehicle.

  • Richard

    I have a 2020 kicks that I purchased in Nov 2020. In April of 2022 I only had 8,000 miles on the car when I started delivering for Amazon Flex. It now(in Feb 2023) has 34,591 miles on it.
    I love the car. Excellent MPG.
    The only issue I have had is the front collision avoidance warning light comes on, even though there is nothing in front of me. After driving a while it would stop warning and operate properly.
    I took it to the dealer and all was good there. No issues.
    After driving it for a while, I noticed that it only happened in colder weather. Specifically when there was frost on the glass when I came out to start and go. While I have been out of the car repair profession for many years, my best guess is that there is frost on the lens of the front radar unit or camera(or whatever it is called that detects objects). This does not happen in rain but sometimes does in snow. We don’t often get a lot of measurable snow in middle Tennessee and, when we do, there is no sense in going anywhere because no one can drive in to work anyway. LOL This frost or snow is fooling the system into thinking there is an object there that does not exist. When it goes away, so does my problem. Fortunately, it’s never applied the brakes on these false alarms, like it did when that deer ran in front of me. LOL Actually, after the repair of the damage done by the deer, I have not had the issue yet. They did replace the radar unit behind the front bumper. Maybe it fixed it as we have had frosty mornings since then.

  • Erica

    I have a 2021 Kicks at 6,000 miles my transmission went out. The screen blacks out for no reason. When parked on an incline it’s really hard to put it in gear and makes a horrible noise when you get it in gear. The side sensors go off and engage the braking system. now the latest is my lift gate won’t stay open. I bought this in Dec. 2021 because my other Nissan 2018 Versa the transmission went out in it. The dealer made me pay 1800 for the Versas parts before they would trade it in. I always say I bought a LEMON not an orange kicks

  • Jacqueline R

    I have a 2020 Nissan Kicks got in November 2021 at 11,000 miles . Do anyone have a problem with your passenger side making a rubbing sound.

  • Tasneem T

    I purchase Nissan kicks 2020 in March 2021 and at 22 miles (on the second day of my purchase) the car lost power at a signal and didn’t even move at full acceleration. After having fuelling several times, it started moving at a snail speed and later it speeded up. Reported to the dealer and they fixed it after having kept the car for 10 days in their workshop. Again in January 2022 the same problem occured at 13527 miles and it was fixed by the dealer in one week time. And now at 17100 miles the problem has occurred for the third time. Nissan USA is less bothered and doesn’t resolve it for once and for all.Its a nightmare and wouldn’t advise anybody to go for this model. Looks like it’s a failure model.

  • Elise

    I also have a 2020 kicks. When I first bought it, it would sometimes make a knocking sound when backing up. Then the CK engine light stays on. Now 3 different warning lights stay on and cruise control is malfunctioning. What next?

  • Donna A

    I have the 2020 Nissan Kicks and since day one every time I apply the brakes it makes a knocking noise. Now the dashboard warning lights come on after driving for about 30 seconds and stay on. Also once the warning lights come on then the auto diming head lights don’t work. Last week the radio station started changing stations on it’s own. I have taken it to the Nissan dealership and they say they don’t know how to fix! How is this even possible??

  • GUY M

    Well” my 2020 kicks has not given me any issues yet I have almost 14000 on it and it’s going into the shop for scheduled maintenance on Monday 4th 2021 @8:30. It’s Ben a good car to me . I have the device called fix and run it on my fix ..each time it has scanned the system it has come back with no issues detected. There is always later..we will see. I would hate to give up this car as I have 33 miles to the gallon. All you people out there make me ask my self will I experience later? When ? Who knows but for now ..just dive and take care of it in the way of keeping it washed and vacuumed and oil changes .this all any of us can do until problems hit.

  • JerryV.

    Front collision detection failure warning, comes on for no apparent reason goes off with restart. I use a hand free car wash like someone else talked about. Love my Kicks; hope it is a fixable problem.

  • Erica

    I’ve had my car a year now I have had it in the shop three times over transmission, And the sea owners manual rear and front sensors going off or flashing stuttering around corners, and on occasion slamming into gear. They say nothings wrong with the car other than a transmission update is needed that was done same issues still occurring. Now I have a check engine light on and another appointment this car is the biggest, largest, Headache I’ve ever owned. I’m fairly certain this will be the last Nissan I buy.

  • Amanda j

    I have a 2020 Nissan kicks. Bought it with 14 miles on it.. I am a commuter and at 75,000 the transmission had to be completely replaced!! Now it’s at 108,000 miles and it’s constantly stalling on me while the car is still running. Almost Everytime I stop , it will not take off when time to go. Gas pedal goes all the way to floor with no movement. Almost been hit by other vehicles more times than I can count! My lights constantly flicker . The headlights and interior lights . This car is the devil and it’s out to get me ..I suggest you skip buying the kicks all together!

  • Kenyatta

    I have a 2020 nissan kicks this is the second time the front inercaer light came on. Something to do with the braking system. I only have 1600 Mike’s on it. Dont know how many miles it take for it to stop coming on. The dealership anit much help.

  • John C

    I now have 7200 miles on my 2020 Nissan Kicks. At 1000 miles my front auto break detection warning light came on for no reason. The dealer replaced the radar system. I am now dealing with the rear auto detection warning light coming on. They checked it out and said I must have hit one of the 4 sensors on the rear bumper. I told the dealer I have never hit anything.They asked if I washed my car or took it to a car wash. I take it to a car wash. The dealer said they might have done something to the sensor, and that was a common issue. Nonsense! It only took 2 weeks for the warning light to come on again, and has come on3 times in the last 2 weeks, including today, when my blind spot warning came on , and they ceased working. I am scared to take this car on a long trip. Taking it back to the dealer in the AM. Can’t wait for this diagnosis.!

  • Keith W

    My 2020 Kicks powered off randomly tonight. No idea why. It turn back on about 10 minutes later. Only had the car for 2 or 3 months.

  • David M

    Got This Car as a Rental While Waiting for My Car to Be Repaired following a Collision!!
    This Car Simply Feels Unsafe.
    have not felt this insecure driving an automobile since I had to drive My brothers ’73 Pinto during High School!!
    Sadly, I am Stuck with Poor Acceleration (Dangerous when merging into Traffic) and al the other things that Make it Feel Unsafe, until My Regular Car is either repaired or Totaled, and God Knows how long That will Take!! I strongly recommend that you pass this model by!! As For Enterprise Rental Cars, You would do yourself well to Pass them By as Well!

  • Liliane

    Hi i have Nissan kicks 2018,
    The light doesn’t switch off in auto mode and doesn’t give the voice signal while opening and closing it. Please advise how can I fix it.

  • Jessica M

    I have a 2020 Nissan kicks and I am having an issue with the back rear tire. I took it to get an alignment and they told me that there’s no way that it could be aligned I took it to Nissan and they refused to fix it I called consumer affairs and they refused to help me with the situation I don’t know what else to do it’s wasting at the back of my tire faster than the rest of them. I also took my vehicle in for regular service and they just committed fraud because they didn’t even do the service I requested on my vehicle at the time I had to get a second opinion to find out about the alignment and the defect in the right rear tire if anyone else is having that issue

  • Vince

    Have a 2020 Nissan kicks with 747 miles on it and the power training indicator light came on checked it cylinder number 2 miss firing

  • Myrtle D

    Has anyone had a problem with the safety system?

  • Caitlan

    Nissan kicks S 2020. I have had issues ranging from the car stalling, radio and camera displays blacking out randomly, car not cranking, auto brake feature going off randomly, and crash sensors going off for no reason. I have taken it to the dealer three times now and raised the concerns and everytime they say”oh we reset the sensors, we updated a chip, or we can’t get it to replicate” I have had this car for only 6 months and only have 13,000 miles on it. I hate this car yet they refuse to replace it or take it back.

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