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

Structure and brake issues are among the top complaints received by the NHTSA from vehicle owners

Updated on Author: Brian Jones | Reviewer: Sergei Lemberg

In today’s modern world, owners are demanding an extreme level of performance out of their vehicles. Since the 2020 Nissan Maxima promises to be a “high-tech powerhouse,” there’s been lots of enthusiasm for this model. However, customers are dealing with all kinds of defects including defective brakes, windshields that crack, and sunroofs that shatter.

Most Common Problems with the 2020 Nissan Maxima

There hasn’t been a flood of complaints about the 2020 Nissan Maxima. But the worry is that those lodged with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) affect numerous components and systems. In terms of volumes, brake issues top the list followed by a variety of problems that relate to the structure of the sedan. These include sunroofs that shatter and windshields that spontaneously crack.

There are also complaints that airbags discharge so forcefully, they damage the vehicle and injure occupants of the Maxima. One owner describes how a driver pulled out in front at a four-way stop, resulting in a crash. “I was going around 15 miles per hour. The airbag discharged so hard it broke my windshield and injured my head, neck, and lower back.”

Other components and systems that owners state are problematic include backover prevention, the electrical system, forward collision avoidance, the fuel/propulsion system, land departure, latches/locks.linkages, and the powertrain.

Additionally, there is a recall that affects a relatively small number (150) of 2020 Nissan vehicles including the Maxima. This warns that the rear window glass may separate from the vehicle. This, they warn, can increase the risk of a crash.

2020 Nissan Maxima Complaint Summary

Complaint CategoryNumber of Complaints
Forward Collision Avoidance: Automatic Emergency Braking
Service Brakes
Air Bags
Air Bags:sensor:frontal Impact
Back Over Prevention: Rearview System Braking
Back Over Prevention: Sensing System: Camera
Electrical System
Fuel/propulsion System
Lane Departure: Blind Spot Detection

Brake Problems

What stops a vehicle to avoid an accident? The braking system. When everything is running correctly, drivers have nothing to worry about. Yet, there are issues with both the Maxima parking brakes and its service brakes, which are causing some owners huge problems. The most common problems seem to relate to the emergency parking brakes and the automatic emergency braking system (AEB).

Emergency Brake Problems

An owner from South Carolina was driving when the emergency park brake, rear brake, and traction control lights lit up on the dash. “The vehicle seemed to lose power … and then the  check engine light came on.”

Whenever there is heavy rain, an owner from Michigan finds that the emergency parking brake comes on. “It starts to illuminate vaguely. Then, eventually, the brake light will come on and it’ll start indicating to pull over. The first time I was in rush hour traffic on a busy highway. I was able to push down on the brake and release (it) long enough to come off an exit before it came back on. Had to let the car sit for over 20 minutes. The second time we had heavy rain. I got in the car the following day. After 15 minutes of driving the brake light started to illuminate and I could not get it to go off. I had to pull over several times eventually sitting on the side of the road for 20 minutes again for it to go off.” Additionally, there was a burning smell when the driver got out of the vehicle.

Automatic Emergency Braking System Problems

An owner from Maryland was driving at 50-55 mph when the vehicle lost motive power.”The automatic emergency braking (AEB) system, slip indicator, and rear automatic braking warning lights were illuminated.” The owner took the Maxima to the dealer who was unable to replicate the failure. So, the vehicle was not repaired. According to the complaint, the manufacturer was made aware of the failure and informed the owner that “they would not authorize the dealer to perform the repair and could not replace or repurchase the vehicle.”

An owner from New York was driving at 55 mph when the instrument panel began flashing red and the vehicle forcefully braked independently. There weren’t any vehicles nearby so he managed to avoid a crash and continue to his destination. Even though the failure occurred on three different occasions, the dealer was unable to duplicate the failure.

There is one single manufacturer communication that relates to 2020 Nissan Maxima brakes — specifically its hydraulic service brakes. These must, by law, be shared with the NHTSA. This one relates to a whole lot of other Nissan vehicles. A total of 362 products are affected — 36 models with model years from 2005 to 2023. Incredibly, the NHTSA records show that there is only one single technical service bulletin (TSB) on file about this issue.

Structure-Related Problems

There are a variety of problems that involve the structure of the 2020 Nissan Maxima. Several relate to the sunroof or windshield, while others indicate shoddy bodywork.

An owner from New York tells how the front passenger side A-pillar molding flew off while driving in windy weather. “This piece could have hit another vehicle and impeded their vision while driving. The molding was not otherwise compromised.”

Another owner whose Maxima had less than 12,000 miles on the clock states that several body components are broken. “This is my daily drive, with a mix of town and highway driving, so I typically drive 30-70 MPH daily and only about 10 miles per day to and from work. There is very little wear on this car.”

According to the complaint: “Clips that secure the front grill and front quarter panels have broken for no apparent reason.” After this happened, “the front camera looked “cloudy” because it had fallen when the grill clips broke and became loose.” Additionally, “Body parts can fall off during driving if not repaired.” There were no warnings. The dealership inspected and discovered that the entire grill had to be replaced. But, “All parts are on backorder with no date for restock.”

Sunroof and Windshield Issues

An owner from North Carolina describes how the sunroof “inexplicably blew out” while he was driving on a three-lane interstate highway he normally takes to work every morning. The windows were up. His NHTSA complaint tells the full story. “This movable portion of the sunroof is part of the panoramic sunroof. The sun shade was open, it is normally left open. Some small pieces of the glass fell onto me and (the) seats but most were sucked up and away from the car. Thankfully, no glass hit me in the face and no cars were around me. I have rear cam footage of the glass flying out behind the car. Front footage shows nothing hit the car. No one was near enough to suspect otherwise. A picture is attached of what is left.”

The scenario an owner from Wisconsin describes is different. After getting into the car, they closed the doors and heard the sunroof shatter. “The edges of the broken glass were pushed up as if the air pressure inside the car broke the glass. If the inside cover was open, we would have been showered in glass. The manufacturer inspected and replaced the glass.”

An owner from Maryland highlights the fact that windshield cracks are common with 2020 model year Nissan vehicles. “The windshield cracks randomly with no point of impact (and) frays outward. It seems to be (a) stress fracture from the frame.”

Your Lemon Law Legal Rights

It can be incredibly frustrating when your vehicle stops working the way it should. Before you blame yourself, consider whether there are problems that might indicate your 2020 Nissan Maxima might be a lemon. If these problems are impacting your use of the sedan and/or its value, you may, indeed, be sitting with a lemon.

Did you know that every year, auto manufacturers buy back, replace, or pay cash settlements to thousands of lemon owners? Furthermore, the law makes Nissan pay the legal fees for lemon law cases.

So, what can you do? That’s the easy part. Fill out a Lemberg Law contact form or call our Helpline. We’ll assess your case to see if you have a lemon law case. 


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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